Wikipedia: Murder and Myth — Part 19

Dec. 22, 1937, Ted Healy

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.

Wikipedia -- Wallace Beery

What started me on this adventure in research was the Wikipedia entry on Wallace Beery, alleging that he and two other men beat Ted Healy to death in the parking lot of the Trocadero in 1937.

Now, at long last, it’s time to examine what actually happened that night.

I previously wrote about using online sources to show how anyone can fact-check a dubious account. And in general, the online sources were acceptable. But frankly, there is no substitute for looking at the major papers in Los Angeles in those days, the Los Angeles Examiner, and to a lesser extent its afternoon counterpart the Herald-Express, and the Daily News.

The news accounts answer many questions, but add a layer of complexity that isn’t found in the other news accounts and certainly not in the books we have looked at: E.J. Fleming’s “The Fixers,” Jeff and Tom Forrester’s “The Three Stooges” and Michael Fleming’s “The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History.”

I’ll do it in several parts, starting Tuesday.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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6 Responses to Wikipedia: Murder and Myth — Part 19

  1. Eve says:

    41?! Jeez, I thought he was 60-ish.


  2. LC says:

    Honestly, I didn’t know that I wanted to know that much about Ted Healy, but it seems that I am hooked, so bring it on.


    • lmharnisch says:

      I’m not sure that Healy, per se, is that interesting — having just seen him in “Mad Holiday” (which should prove beyond any doubt that he and Wallace Beery *never* competed for the same roles). For me it’s the myth; how it got started and how it has become “truth.”


  3. Stevezl1 says:

    This has been a mystery in Hollywood for years. It seems nobody was willing to talk about it. Ted Healy was – for awhile anyway – the highest paid actor in vaudville. $40,000.00 a week! That computes in today’s money to about $557,000.00 a week! it’s been said he didn’t have money for his own funeral! There were people out there that knew what happened.


    • lmharnisch says:

      I’ll get into that in the weeks to come, but Healy wasn’t making anything like that in Hollywood. His manager, Jack Marcus, said Healy was earning $1,750 a week (in 1937 dollars) but was giving most of it away. He was apparently a very soft touch.


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