Wikipedia: Murder and Myth — Part 17

Wikipedia -- Wallace Beery

In case you just tuned in, I am using the Wikipedia entry on Wallace Beery — alleging that he was involved in the death of Ted Healy — as a way to explore Wikipedia’s fundamental problems with accuracy and delve into Hollywood myths.

We have been backtracking the source for the Wikipedia entries (the ones that cited a source, anyway), E.J. Fleming’s “The Fixers.” From there, we went to one of Fleming’s sources, Jeff and Tom Forrester’s “The Three Stooges.”

Among many other problems, we found that it was impossible, as claimed in “The Three Stooges,” for Ted Healy to have made phone calls to various people describing his attack by Wallace Beery et al, for the simple reason that two men who dealt with Healy that night — including the doctor who treated his cuts — said he had no idea who had hit him.


AP via The Telegraph, Dec. 22, 1937

Let me repeat that: Healy had no idea who hit him.


Wikipedia: Murder and Myth: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16

There are many more mistakes left to be debunked in the Forresters account in “The Three Stooges,” but I’m going to leave them for another industrious soul.

Before we go, let’s look at a few more claims, because they appear in “The Fixers” and Wikipedia.

To their credit, the Forresters quote the Albert Broccoli’s account in the Los Angeles Herald-Express (although they are fans, not scholars, and call it the Herald-Examiner, which didn’t exist until 1962).

But they fail to quote his version of the incident in its entirety:


The actual Herald-Express account from Dec. 23, 1937.

In quoting the Herald-Express account, the Forresters eliminate the fact that Healy wanted to see Broccoli and that they shook hands. Why? Presumably it’s because the “Wallace Beery beat Ted Healy to death”  story is too good to resist, even if it is contradicted by a first-person statement from the incident.

Finally, let’s address this:

"Three Stooges," Page 64
The Forresters write “By most accounts, however, Healy was savagely beaten that night, with his three assailants wrestling him to the ground and kicking him in the head, ribs and stomach.” There are graphic details of Healy lying in a puddle of his own blood, etc.

The problem is that there isn’t a single news report about Healy’s death from the period that says anything at all about “three assailants wrestling him to the ground, and kicking him in the head, ribs and stomach.”

“By most accounts” is, in fact, “by NO account.” Not the Los Angeles Times, not the Examiner, not the Herald-Express, not the Daily News, not the Associated Press and not the United Press.

Nobody writing at the time says this. No one.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1937, Film, Hollywood, Nightclubs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Wikipedia: Murder and Myth — Part 17

  1. Homer says:

    Then that would leave Albert R. Broccoli who admited that he had a fight with Healy and that he and Healy have never met before.(he was in hollywood visiting his cousin DiCicco)
    Healy knew Pat DiCicco (both were drinkers) and might even had an affair with Thelma Todd
    Healy knew Wallace Berry, their is a drawing that Healy made of Berry in 1937


  2. JAMES says:

    Thank you so much for this facinating series. You’re doing a great job!


  3. Homer says:

    I just updated Ted Healy’s Personal life (nothing to do with murder) and he was married twice and asked both women to marry upon meeting! So it now seems Ted Healy was Bipolar. Part time Stooge Mousie said Healy was depressed so he drank.

    Personal life [edit]Healy’s first wife was dancer and singer Betty Brown (born Elizabeth Braun), whom he married in 1922[5]after knowing her for one week.[6]The couple worked together in vaudeville before divorcing in 1932,[7]after Brown sued heiress Mary Brown Warburton for alienation of her husbands affections.[8]

    Healy’s second marriage was to UCLA Co-Ed Betty Hickman. Healy upon introducing himself asked her to marry him and became engaged the next day.[9] They were married in Yuma, Arizona on May 15, 1936 after a midnight surprise elopement by plane.[10] Betty Hickman was granted a divorce from Healy on October 7, 1936[11], but later reconciled.

    Hickman gave birth to the couple’s son, John Jacob, on December 17, 1937, four days before Healy’s death.[12]

    (by the way searching online shows that Mary Brown Warburton died of a overdose of heroin or morphine in Sept 1937 (Three months before Healys death).


  4. Carl Belken says:

    This is an excellent series. Thank you for taking the time and effort to write it!


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