Dec. 22, 1937: Ted Healy in the Los Angeles County morgue, photographed by the 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.
This has been a lengthy trek, but at last we are going to look at what the newspapers called Healy’s “macabre last night out.” This is a complicated story several variations and the chronology as reported in the Los Angeles Examiner, Herald-Express and Daily News doesn’t quite make sense. The newspaper accounts also disagree with one another on some points.
In the previous post, we found that everybody exonerated Albert Broccoli in his encounter with Ted Healy at the Cafe Trocadero. Even Betty Braun Healy, the ex-wife who was the source of all the charges about a cover-up, said she was confident that Broccoli was not to blame:
Attorney [Walter A.] Ham and Mrs. Healy are satisfied that Healy did not receive ill treatment from Broccoli. (Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 28, 1937)
I emphasize this because Broccoli was swept up years later in the “Wallace Beery beat Ted Healy to death” yarn that appears in E.J. Fleming’s “The Fixers” and (at least at one point) Wikipedia.
After receiving “a whale of a beating” from an unidentified man at the Trocadero, Healy took a cab. His destination is usually given in news accounts as Ray Haller’s Seven Seas Cafe, 6904 Hollywood Blvd., where he borrowed $50 ($807.40 USD 2013) “to pay for some fun.” (Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 23, 1937).
It seems more likely that the Seven Seas Cafe was Healy’s first stop — because there are no reports of him being beaten and bloody while he was there. Then again, we are dealing with a drunken binge so it’s possible that the newspapers’ chronology is correct.
Healy’s next stop was the Hollywood Brown Derby, 1628 N. Vine St.
There, he was discovered, bleeding and incoherent, by three friends, Joseph E. “Doc” Stone and Jack Antler, movie extras, and Joe Frisco, comedian. It was than (sic) 2:15 a.m. (Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 22, 1937)
What happened next is a bit murky. The clearest version appears to be that Stone called Healy’s sister Marcia, who told them to take Healy to Dr. Sydney L. Weinberg at the Hollywood Plaza Hotel (Associated Press via the Lewiston Evening Journal, Dec. 22, 1937).
The Daily News, Dec. 23, 1937, refers to a “Doc” Bishop (possibly “Doc” Stone), who encountered Healy.
Bishop said he paid a $4.50 taxi bill for Healy. The size of the bill indicated, police said, that Healy had ridden around considerably after leaving the Trocadero, which is about a 75-cent ride to the point where Dean and Bishop met him.
Upon arriving at the Hollywood Plaza Hotel, where Weinberg treated him, Healy and his friends encountered “Man Mountain” Dean, who had appeared with Healy in the Jean Harlow movie “Reckless.” According to all news reports, Healy was heavily intoxicated and unable to say what happened to him.
Dean reported that he was standing in front of the hotel when a taxicab pulled to a stop and the comedian staggered out, bleeding from a cut over one eye.
“I don’t know how I got it,” Healy was quoted as saying. (Daily News, Dec. 22, 1937)
According to the Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 22, 1937, Dr. Weinberg closed the cut over Healy’s eye with two surgical clips.
“Healy,” Dr. Weinberg said, “had been drinking heavily. He said he had been in a fight, but was unable to say who his opponent was.”
Marcia Healy said of what occurred early Monday (Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 26, 1937):
“At 3 a.m., he telephoned me and asked me to go to Clara Bow’s It Cafe [Note: It was next to the Hollywood Plaza Hotel] in Hollywood and get him. He said he had two stitches in his head.
“I telephoned to Jack Marcus, his manager, and told him to go get Ted. Jack got him and took him to Ted’s home. I know because I followed in my car.”
On Monday, Marcus remained at the home with Healy, who was “violently ill, racked by convulsions, and frequently delirious, moaning about the fight.” (Los Angeles Examiner, Dec. 22, 1937)
The Los Angeles Examiner (Dec. 22, 1937) reported:
The family physician, Dr. Wyant Lamont, who last Friday delivered the baby boy, was called and, realizing the gravity of Healy’s condition, administered a sedative and summoned into consultation Dr. John Ruddock, Los Angeles heart specialist.
Glucose was administered and oxygen was rushed from the University Hospital, but Healy’s condition became ever more desperate. At 3 a.m., he suffered the attack which was to prove fatal.
The Daily News (Dec. 22, 1937) reported:
Healy’s condition had become so critical that Dr. Wyantt LaMont [Dr. Wyant Lamont], the family physician, was summoned.
Dr. Lamont said a trained nurse was in attendance on his arrival. The physician said he was told Healy had been suffering from vomiting spells since Sunday, a few hours after the asserted beating he is reported to have been given by an unidentified man.
When the actor was seized with severe convulsions, Dr. Lamont rushed oxygen to the home in an effort to stave off death.
At 3 a.m. Tuesday, Healy lapsed into what the newspapers called a coma or “semi-coma.” He died Tuesday, Dec. 21, 1937, at 11:30 a.m.
Present at the time of his death were Jack Marcus and his wife, and Marcia Healy. (Daily News, Dec. 22, 1937) The Dec. 22, 1937, Associated Press story (via the Lewiston Evening Journal) said both doctors were also present.
To be continued.