Dec. 22, 1937: “Beating of Ted Healy Told in Death Probe,” in the Los Angeles Daily News.
In case you just tuned in, we are nearing the end of a long journey that began in April, when I stumbled across a Wikipedia entry claiming that Wallace Beery was involved in beating Ted Healy to death in the parking lot of the Cafe Trocadero in December 1937.
In our research trek, we have looked at the Wikipedia entries, examined the source material (as such) for the entries and concentrated on some of the key players, especially Betty Braun Healy, the comedian’s first wife and onetime vaudeville partner.
Healy’s ex-wife is crucial to understanding the stories surrounding Healy’s death because she is the only one to claim that people are being protected, that there is a cover-up, that she is being warned to keep quiet and that she is threatened with being blacklisted by the studios.
Everyone else — the coroner, the police, the district attorney, Healy’s widow and his sister, his manager and Healy’s doctors — all of them insist that Healy died of natural causes. They are unanimous.
It is only Betty Braun Healy who is adamant in speaking to the Los Angeles newspapers that there is a cover-up.
In several earlier posts, we looked at Betty Braun’s marriage to Healy. Now it’s time to examine where they stood in 1937.
And the answer is not good, at least if you are the current Mrs. Ted Healy.
What do you suppose Healy was doing while his young wife, who had just turned 22, was in the hospital giving birth to their first child?
On the Saturday night before Healy died, he was in a cafe with his ex-wife, according to her own account in the Los Angeles Herald-Express, Dec. 24, 1937.
She insisted that they were “discussing a business matter” and “in the presence of other people” but being seen in a public restaurant or nightclub with your ex while your wife is in the hospital with your new baby is fairly despicable — even by Ted Healy’s standards.
“I saw Ted Saturday night in the presence of other people. He told me that he had never felt better in his life; that he had been taking better care of himself and that he had not been drinking for at least six months. We were in a cafe discussing a business matter and Ted drank coffee and declared he’d never drink again as he did once upon a time.”
She also said:
“Ted never looked better in the 16 years I’ve known him than he did Saturday night. He was filled with the joy of life and with plans for the future for his new baby. He told me of his real estate plans — he was planning to build nine houses on Vermont Avenue and wanted me to go look at the site and see what I thought of the idea.
He also spoke of his new picture* and said he hoped it brought him the success he thought it would.”He said he expected to make a half-million dollars during the coming year. He expressed great interest in the story that I sent to Warner Brothers for consideration by them because it was written around the neighborhood where Ted’s youth was spent.”
And she expected to be included in Healy’s purported life insurance policy, according to the Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 29, 1937:
“She was told, she added, that he took out a $100,000 life insurance policy shortly before his death.”
By his ex-wife’s account, Healy drank coffee that night, so presumably he wasn’t hung over. But whatever the cause, he was sick most of the next day, Sunday, Dec. 19, 1937.
*Probably “Hollywood Hotel,” which was about to premiere, although it could have been his upcoming film “Gold Diggers in Paris”
To be continued.