The Death of Ted Healy — Part 1

Dec. 22, 1937, Los Angeles Examiner, Ted Healy

Dec. 22, 1937: Ted Healy’s death is reported in the Los Angeles Examiner.

In the days leading up to his death, comedian Ted Healy had been under continuous observation  by his sister, Marcia, and manager, James Marcus, to keep him from drinking and otherwise out of trouble. Hymie Marx, a bodyguard, had been hired not to protect Healy from his fans but to protect him from himself.

A longtime alcoholic, Healy had apparently been striving to stay sober in the last months of his life. Sammy Lewis, a partner in Slapsy Maxie Rosenbloom’s cafe, said: “During the past six months, I saw Ted very frequently. He never drank anything stronger than coffee at those times and he seemed in the best of health.” (Examiner, Dec. 26, 1937)

Superficially, at least, Healy’s prospects seemed bright. He was earning $1,750 ($28,288.39 USD 2013 ) a week, he had a role in the upcoming film “Hollywood Hotel,” which was about to open, and was scheduled to shoot “Gold Diggers in Paris.”  (Examiner, Dec. 25, 1937)

Betty Braun and Ted Healy
Dec. 25, 1937: Betty Braun Healy and Ted Healy in an undated photo published in the Daily News.

Jan. 23, 1936, Healy Alimony

Healy was divorced from his first wife, former vaudeville partner Betty Braun, in New York in 1932, and he was paying her $150 a week alimony. (The Times, Jan. 23, 1936)

May 16, 1936, Healy Elopes
May 16, 1936, Ted Healy elopes with the former Betty Hickman, as reported in The Times.

623 Hillcrest Drive, Beverly Hills, home of Ted Healy
623 Hillcrest Drive, Beverly Hills via Google Street View

Healy had married 21-year-old UCLA student Betty Hickman, on May 15, 1936, and was living at 623 Hillcrest Drive, Beverly Hills, but they separated Aug. 28 of that year. In suing for divorce, she “accused the screen player of displaying a violent temper and of making their married life continually unpleasant by frequent quarreling.” (The Times, Oct. 4, 1936)

Despite the estrangement, there was apparently a reconciliation, as she became pregnant and gave birth to their son, John Jacob Healy, on Dec. 17, 1937, at University Hospital in Culver City.

Healy Son Born, Dec. 18, 1937
Dec. 18, 1937, a son is born to Ted Healy and his wife, Betty, as reported by The Times.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

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

8 Responses to The Death of Ted Healy — Part 1

  1. homer says:

    For healys first wife they were married a week after meeting, for second wife Healy asked her to marry him at first meeting. As in mousie garners book


    • lmharnisch says:

      The Hollywood memoir is a genre that tends to be unreliable at best and utter fiction and downright lies at worst, so I’m only using original news reports.


  2. aryedirect says:

    Ted Healy, a film funster? He seemed as mean-spirited on screen as off.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Playground to the Stars » What Really Happened the Night Ted Healy Was Beaten up at Cafe Trocadero?

  4. Joseph says:

    “so I’m only using original news reports.” Which would never be inaccurate, would they?


    • lmharnisch says:

      The original news reports are far more accurate than anything you’ll find in the books on the subject.


      • Carl Belken says:

        My father in-law was the owner and editor of a small town newspaper from the late 30’s to the early 70’s. Journalists from that era were far different than many today. His attitude towards news stories can be summed up in three words. Verify,verify,verify. Publishing information that was wrong could earn you the label of “Yellow Journalism” a title no respectable editor or reporter wanted.


  5. Sarah James says:

    Betty had an 11 lb baby? Poor girl.


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