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Verified

Well-documented by reputable humans and is logical given other things we know to be true.

002 00:00:51 Image: Johns Hopkins University exterior

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Image: Johns Hopkins University exterior

Photograph of Johns Hopkins taken by Harvey Cushing circa 1900.

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Photograph of Johns Hopkins taken by Harvey Cushing circa 1900.

022 00:04:41 Image: Chapter I text page

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Image: Chapter I text page

The text here is reproduced from The Life of a Man‘s preface (with minor edits).

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The text here is reproduced from The Life of a Man‘s preface (with minor edits).

040 00:06:36 Image: Train depot

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Image: Train depot

This drawing is based on a photo of the real Milford train depot (date unknown).

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This drawing is based on a photo of the real Milford train depot (date unknown).

042 00:06:44 Image: Milford, built up
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Image: Milford, built up

Brinkley’s status as perpetual benefactor to his community is a big part of the image he cultivated, for obvious reasons. There are loads of period newspaper references to how much Brinkley “built up” Milford (“the Milford [Little League baseball] team wears uniforms furnished by Dr. Brinkley” said The Junction City Daily Union in 1922, and …

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Brinkley’s status as perpetual benefactor to his community is a big part of the image he cultivated, for obvious reasons. There are loads of period newspaper references to how much Brinkley “built up” Milford (“the Milford [Little League baseball] team wears uniforms furnished by Dr. Brinkley” said The Junction City Daily Union in 1922, and “[Brinkley] gave the town a $25,000 Methodist church in memory of his mother” claimd The San Bernardino County Sun in 1933) but they’re all pretty hard to substantiate. He certainly made many improvements to his own property, and spared no expense (“Brinkley built electrical, water and sewage systems for his hospital, and soon his power plant supplied Milford businesses, then the Methodist church, then residences. He expanded the water and sewer systems also, and sidewalks were built,” wrote Lee). And there’s little doubt that Milford benefitted from its new status as rejuvenation destination (“trains stop regularly at Milford and electric lights and asphalt streets have supplanted kerosene lamps and mud roads” said the Wilmington News-Journal in 1923, and “the town is planning a new hotel” said The San Bernardino County Sun in 1923).

But remember that he’s got a paid staff of PR people working for him to place stories just like these in newspapers!

043 00:06:47 Dialogue: “became very active in the Methodist church”

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Dialogue: “became very active in the Methodist church”

In fact, he built the Methodist Church!

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In fact, he built the Methodist Church!

044 00:06:53 Dialogue: “they loved him”

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Dialogue: “they loved him”

They loved him so much that in 1933, newspapers reported that a “majority of voters” in Milford unsuccessfully petitioned to have the town itself renamed “Brinkley.”

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They loved him so much that in 1933, newspapers reported that a “majority of voters” in Milford unsuccessfully petitioned to have the town itself renamed “Brinkley.”

049 00:07:27 Text: Author, “Charlatan”

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Text: Author, “Charlatan”

Pope Brock wrote a Brinkley biography called Charlatan, which is how we found out about Brinkley in the first place!

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Pope Brock wrote a Brinkley biography called Charlatan, which is how we found out about Brinkley in the first place!

051 00:07:37 Dialogue: “Pretty soon he had his own herd of goats out back”

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Dialogue: “Pretty soon he had his own herd of goats out back”

This is logical, we’ve read it in multiple sources, and we’re guessing we can believe the photo caption.

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This is logical, we’ve read it in multiple sources, and we’re guessing we can believe the photo caption.

057 00:08:01 Dialogue: “1923, when radio was just beginning”

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Dialogue: “1923, when radio was just beginning”

True, radio was really taking off in the early 1920s.

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True, radio was really taking off in the early 1920s.

058 00:08:04 Dialogue: “Brinkley realized what radio could do”

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Dialogue: “Brinkley realized what radio could do”

The story goes that he “realized what radio could do” when he visited California in 1922. “In February 1922 the doctor received a brusque invitation from Harry Chandler, owner of the Los Angeles Times, to come to the West Coast and put goat glands in one of his editors” (Brock, 56). “Chandler was in the …

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The story goes that he “realized what radio could do” when he visited California in 1922. “In February 1922 the doctor received a brusque invitation from Harry Chandler, owner of the Los Angeles Times, to come to the West Coast and put goat glands in one of his editors” (Brock, 56). “Chandler was in the midst of constructing Los Angeles’ first radio station, KHJ. Brinkley saw it and had a religious experience” (Brock, 60).

In September of 1922, Brinkley installed a state of the art radio receiving set in his own home, a big enough deal to make the papers.

063 00:08:40 Image: KFKB

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Image: KFKB

The drawing of the station is based on a real photograph of KFKB. (See also: notes 8 and 23 on the origin of this image of Milford.)

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The drawing of the station is based on a real photograph of KFKB. (See also: notes 8 and 23 on the origin of this image of Milford.)

067 00:08:47 Text: “Sunshine station in the heart of the nation”

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Text: “Sunshine station in the heart of the nation”

“The Sunshine Station in the Heart of the Nation” was the real slogan of KFKB (which he would repurpose for his later Mexican radio station as “The Sunshine Station Between the Nations”). Sometimes Brinkley said KFKB stood for “Kansas First, Kansas Best” and other times “Kansas Folks Know Best.” (See also: note 185 on XERA …

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“The Sunshine Station in the Heart of the Nation” was the real slogan of KFKB (which he would repurpose for his later Mexican radio station as “The Sunshine Station Between the Nations”). Sometimes Brinkley said KFKB stood for “Kansas First, Kansas Best” and other times “Kansas Folks Know Best.” (See also: note 185 on XERA slogan.)

072 00:09:41 Soundtrack: Potted palm music

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Soundtrack: Potted palm music

The “potted palm” music is by the Victor Salon Orchestra, from a record called “Music to Relax By” (late 1920s or early 1930s).

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The “potted palm” music is by the Victor Salon Orchestra, from a record called “Music to Relax By” (late 1920s or early 1930s).

076 00:11:00 Dialogue: “Then he worked out this whole thing with druggists”

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Dialogue: “Then he worked out this whole thing with druggists”

Brinkley indeed had this “network of druggists”: the Brinkley Pharmaceutical Association, who stocked Brinkley medicines. People who listened to Medical Question Box would be told which medicine to take for what ailment, and they could visit any number of “official” Brinkley medicine purveyors to buy them.

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Brinkley indeed had this “network of druggists”: the Brinkley Pharmaceutical Association, who stocked Brinkley medicines. People who listened to Medical Question Box would be told which medicine to take for what ailment, and they could visit any number of “official” Brinkley medicine purveyors to buy them.

081 00:11:39 Dialogue: “When I left my little cabin”
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Dialogue: “When I left my little cabin”

Brinkley was specifically from Beta, North Carolina.

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Brinkley was specifically from Beta, North Carolina.

082 00:11:43 Dialogue: “I’d known very few”
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Dialogue: “I’d known very few”

According to Brinkley himself (who else are you supposed to believe when it comes to the personal details of a life that can’t be otherwise verified?), he indeed grew up in these conditions.

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According to Brinkley himself (who else are you supposed to believe when it comes to the personal details of a life that can’t be otherwise verified?), he indeed grew up in these conditions.

083 00:11:51 Image: Brinkley’s mother
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Image: Brinkley’s mother

John R. Brinkley was born a bastard. This image of a photo of his birth mother, Sarah Candace Burnett, who was impregnated by an unknown man outside of wedlock. The boy was named after and raised by his uncle John Brinkley, married to the aunt of his birth mother. (Did you follow that? No, we …

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John R. Brinkley was born a bastard. This image of a photo of his birth mother, Sarah Candace Burnett, who was impregnated by an unknown man outside of wedlock. The boy was named after and raised by his uncle John Brinkley, married to the aunt of his birth mother. (Did you follow that? No, we didn’t either, but this appears to be correct.)

084 00:11:57 Image: Brinkley as a boy
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Image: Brinkley as a boy

This is a photo of young Brinkley included in The Life of a Man.

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This is a photo of young Brinkley included in The Life of a Man.

085 00:12:01 Image: Brinkley’s father
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Image: Brinkley’s father

This is a photo of Brinkley’s father included in The Life of a Man.

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This is a photo of Brinkley’s father included in The Life of a Man.

094 00:13:41 Image: Roses
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Image: Roses

We play up Brinkley’s verified love of flowers, especially roses, whenever we can because it makes him seem like a bit of a romantic.

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We play up Brinkley’s verified love of flowers, especially roses, whenever we can because it makes him seem like a bit of a romantic.

096 00:13:56 Dialogue: “A tutor”

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Dialogue: “A tutor”

Johnny Boy indeed had a tutor named Lowell Brown, a former grade school principal.

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Johnny Boy indeed had a tutor named Lowell Brown, a former grade school principal.

097 00:14:04 Dialogue: “He is gonna make a man”

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Dialogue: “He is gonna make a man”

This line is borrowed from the last ever letter Brinkley wrote Minnie in 1942. (See also: note 306 for more on “the last love letter.”)

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This line is borrowed from the last ever letter Brinkley wrote Minnie in 1942. (See also: note 306 for more on “the last love letter.”)

098 00:14:24 Dialogue: “A blatant quack”

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Dialogue: “A blatant quack”

Fishbein’s words throughout this section are paraphrased from his actual writing. Here is the first time we bring the word “quack” into this film. It’s worth taking a second to define it. We like Stephen Barret’s definition of quackery as “anything involving overpromotion in the field of health. This definition would include questionable ideas as …

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Fishbein’s words throughout this section are paraphrased from his actual writing.

Here is the first time we bring the word “quack” into this film. It’s worth taking a second to define it. We like Stephen Barret’s definition of quackery as “anything involving overpromotion in the field of health. This definition would include questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. In line with this definition, the word ‘fraud’ would be reserved only for situations in which deliberate deception is involved. Unproven methods are not necessarily quackery. Those consistent with established scientific concepts may be considered experimental. Legitimate researchers and practitioners do not promote unproven procedures in the marketplace but engage in responsible, properly-designed studies. Methods not compatible with established scientific concepts should be classified as nonsensical or disproven rather than experimental. Methods that sound scientific but are nonsensical can also be classified as pseudoscientific. Folk medicine, even when known to be erroneous, is not generally considered quackery so long as it is not done for gain. Thus, self-treatment, family home treatment, neighborly medical advice, and the noncommercial activities of folk healers should not be labeled as quackery. However, folk medicine and quackery are closely connected because folk medicine often provides a basis for commercial exploitation. For example, herbs long gathered for personal use have been packaged and promoted by modern entrepreneurs, and practitioners who once served their neighbors voluntarily or for gratuities may market themselves outside their traditional communities. All things considered, I find it most useful to define quackery as the promotion of unsubstantiated methods that lack a scientifically plausible rationale. Promotion usually involves a profit motive. Unsubstantiated means either unproven or disproven. Implausible means that it either clashes with well-established facts or makes so little sense that it is not worth testing.”

We have already established Brinkley as the hero of this story and are trying to keep you identifying with him as such. So we’re doing a lot of manipulative things to make you think that he is not a quack, and to ensure that even if you already know that Brinkley is a quack, at this point you may think he is at least not a fraud (maybe he’s just a bit of a weirdo who believes this stuff works.) Later, we will make it as clear as possible that we think he is both a quack and a fraud.

Conversely, we are now introducing Morris Fishbein as Brinkley’s nemesis. So we’re doing what we can to make him as unappealing and unreasonable as possible. Later, we will make it clear that Fishbein was hardly perfect, but when it comes to Brinkley he was entirely correct.

100 00:14:43 Image: Archival of AMA exterior, Fishbein’s office

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Image: Archival of AMA exterior, Fishbein’s office

Archival imagery taken from “Men Of Medicine” (American Medical Association, 1938). It’s from a slightly later time period than is being discussed here…

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Archival imagery taken from “Men Of Medicine” (American Medical Association, 1938). It’s from a slightly later time period than is being discussed here…

101 00:14:49 Text: Medical Historian

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Text: Medical Historian

Professor Megan Seaholm is a senior lecturer in the Dept. of History at UT Austin. One of her research areas is the social construction of medical science and medical practice.

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Professor Megan Seaholm is a senior lecturer in the Dept. of History at UT Austin. One of her research areas is the social construction of medical science and medical practice.

102 00:15:04 Image: Archival of medical students

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Image: Archival of medical students

Archival imagery taken from “Men Of Medicine” (American Medical Association, 1938). It’s from a slightly later time period than is being discussed here…

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Archival imagery taken from “Men Of Medicine” (American Medical Association, 1938). It’s from a slightly later time period than is being discussed here…

105 00:15:30 Image: Archival of Fishbein at podium

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Image: Archival of Fishbein at podium

Archival imagery taken from “Men Of Medicine” (American Medical Association, 1938). It’s from a slightly later time period than is being discussed here…

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Archival imagery taken from “Men Of Medicine” (American Medical Association, 1938). It’s from a slightly later time period than is being discussed here…

113 00:16:41 Image: FRC members

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Image: FRC members

This is actually a photo of the Federal Radio Commission in 1929, so pretty close to the right time period. Also: omg, look at how big their ears are!!!

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This is actually a photo of the Federal Radio Commission in 1929, so pretty close to the right time period. Also: omg, look at how big their ears are!!!

114 00:16:43 Dialogue: “Wild radio dial”

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Dialogue: “Wild radio dial”

The FRC was created in 1926 to regulate radio use “as the public interest, convenience, or necessity” requires. The Radio Act of 1927 superseded the Radio Act of 1912, which had given regulatory powers over radio communication to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor.

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The FRC was created in 1926 to regulate radio use “as the public interest, convenience, or necessity” requires. The Radio Act of 1927 superseded the Radio Act of 1912, which had given regulatory powers over radio communication to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor.

115 00:16:49 Dialogue: “The FCC”

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Dialogue: “The FCC”

True. The Federal Radio Commission became the Federal Communications Commission in 1934.

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True. The Federal Radio Commission became the Federal Communications Commission in 1934.

116 00:17:03 Dialogue: “America’s favorite radio station”

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Dialogue: “America’s favorite radio station”

True: KFKB was voted the most popular radio station in America in a 1929 survey conducted by the Chicago-based magazine Radio Times. But we’ve noticed that quacks are especially good at calling on their fans to vote in things like this. They can always marshal popularity when credibility is scarce.

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True: KFKB was voted the most popular radio station in America in a 1929 survey conducted by the Chicago-based magazine Radio Times.

But we’ve noticed that quacks are especially good at calling on their fans to vote in things like this. They can always marshal popularity when credibility is scarce.

122 00:18:40 Dialogue: “Alternative medicine”

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Dialogue: “Alternative medicine”

This term “alternative practitioners” is not historically accurate, but it’s more legible to a contemporary audience than “irregular doctors.” (That’s what they called alternative practitioners back then!)

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This term “alternative practitioners” is not historically accurate, but it’s more legible to a contemporary audience than “irregular doctors.” (That’s what they called alternative practitioners back then!)

123 00:18:54 Dialogue: “Is only in an experimental stage”

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Dialogue: “Is only in an experimental stage”

We borrowed the lines, “Of course gland transplantation is only in an experimental stage – for some people…” from The Life of A Man (254). The point is that this guy is right: gland transplantation was only in an experimental stage, and was soon abandoned as totally ineffective (see note 12 on omitted background on the era of …

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We borrowed the lines, “Of course gland transplantation is only in an experimental stage – for some people…” from The Life of A Man (254). The point is that this guy is right: gland transplantation was only in an experimental stage, and was soon abandoned as totally ineffective (see note 12 on omitted background on the era of experimental gland transplantation).

131 00:22:05 Image: FRC members

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Image: FRC members

This is actually a photo of the Federal Radio Commission in 1929, so pretty close to the right time period. Also: omg, look at how big their ears are!!!

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This is actually a photo of the Federal Radio Commission in 1929, so pretty close to the right time period. Also: omg, look at how big their ears are!!!

133 00:22:22 Dialogue: “Pornography”

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Dialogue: “Pornography”

Brinkley faced three charges: KFKB had deviated from its assigned wave length; he was broadcasting obscene and indecent things; and his answers to listeners to his Medical Question Box were “inimical to the public interest.” We are reenacting this hearing as if the FRC were just snobs who didn’t like country music or hated the …

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Brinkley faced three charges: KFKB had deviated from its assigned wave length; he was broadcasting obscene and indecent things; and his answers to listeners to his Medical Question Box were “inimical to the public interest.” We are reenacting this hearing as if the FRC were just snobs who didn’t like country music or hated the First Amendment. While these issues were certainly at play, it was most of all the advisability and safety of Medical Question Box (which we’re leaving out completely) that was at issue at the hearing. Prescribing medicines for people over the air was seen as a pretty bad thing to do.

134 00:22:32 Image: Brinkley supporters

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Image: Brinkley supporters

According to Brock, about thirty Brinkley supporters took the stand, but mostly they talked about was how much they loved Medical Question Box.

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According to Brock, about thirty Brinkley supporters took the stand, but mostly they talked about was how much they loved Medical Question Box.

138 00:23:51 Dialogue: “They revoked both”

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Dialogue: “They revoked both”

It’s more accurate to say that the FRC declined to renew his radio license. The FRC decision was made on Friday the 13th(!) of June 1930. The vote was 3-2. Also, Brinkley appealed both of these decisions and the appeals process went on for a few more months, but we’re leaving all that our for …

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It’s more accurate to say that the FRC declined to renew his radio license. The FRC decision was made on Friday the 13th(!) of June 1930. The vote was 3-2. Also, Brinkley appealed both of these decisions and the appeals process went on for a few more months, but we’re leaving all that our for brevity since his appeals failed anyway.

145 00:27:06 Image: Chapter III title page

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Image: Chapter III title page

“The Will of the People” is Clement Wood’s title for Chapter XIII in his book, dealing with the same period. The title refers to Brinkley’s preferred version of the story of the gubernatorial race: “Thousands of Kansans have written urging me to run for governor,” he said. “Judging from my mail the people of Kansas …

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“The Will of the People” is Clement Wood’s title for Chapter XIII in his book, dealing with the same period. The title refers to Brinkley’s preferred version of the story of the gubernatorial race: “Thousands of Kansans have written urging me to run for governor,” he said. “Judging from my mail the people of Kansas seem to believe that I have been persecuted, not prosecuted, and as long as I have a leg to stand on I will fight'” (quoted in Brock, 155).

151 00:27:31 Image: Goat paperweight

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Image: Goat paperweight

A real paperweight, yes.

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A real paperweight, yes.

152 00:27:37 Image: Headline, “Lakes”

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Image: Headline, “Lakes”

Weird but true, this business with the lakes! It had to do with increasing rainfall. “Brinkley also proposed building a recreational lake in every county in the state” (Lee, 122).

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Weird but true, this business with the lakes! It had to do with increasing rainfall. “Brinkley also proposed building a recreational lake in every county in the state” (Lee, 122).

154 00:27:39 Dialogue: “When God made Kansas”

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Dialogue: “When God made Kansas”

Weird but true, this business with the lakes! It had to do with increasing rainfall. “Brinkley also proposed building a recreational lake in every county in the state” (Lee, 122). We feel that we didn’t make up the actual line “When God made Kansas, He blessed her with everything but lakes” (it sure sounds like …

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Weird but true, this business with the lakes! It had to do with increasing rainfall. “Brinkley also proposed building a recreational lake in every county in the state” (Lee, 122).

We feel that we didn’t make up the actual line “When God made Kansas, He blessed her with everything but lakes” (it sure sounds like Brinkley!), but we can’t track down the reference now, so maybe we did make it up?

155 00:27:49 Dialogue: “The first thing I’ll do”

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Dialogue: “The first thing I’ll do”

True! “He favored free textbooks, free medical services for the poor, and health clubs for children in every county” (Lee, 122).

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True! “He favored free textbooks, free medical services for the poor, and health clubs for children in every county” (Lee, 122).

159 00:28:27 Dialogue: “Put on shows featuring the stars of KFKB”

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Dialogue: “Put on shows featuring the stars of KFKB”

True. Also there is an omission here: although the FRC had revoked KFKB’s broadcasting license, Brinkley appealed to the U.S. Appeals Court and was given a temporary stay. He used KFKB to great advantage during this campaign.

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True.

Also there is an omission here: although the FRC had revoked KFKB’s broadcasting license, Brinkley appealed to the U.S. Appeals Court and was given a temporary stay. He used KFKB to great advantage during this campaign.

164 00:29:26 Dialogue: “Brinkley was going to win”

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Dialogue: “Brinkley was going to win”

It really did appear to many that he was going to win! Some sources say that his campaign brought out the most voters in Kansas history.

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It really did appear to many that he was going to win! Some sources say that his campaign brought out the most voters in Kansas history.

166 00:29:53 Dialogue: “Spell his name”

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Dialogue: “Spell his name”

Smith really did issue this ruling about the spelling issue on November 1 (three days before the election).

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Smith really did issue this ruling about the spelling issue on November 1 (three days before the election).

169 00:30:41 Dialogue: “Was not correct”

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Dialogue: “Was not correct”

We never looked this up ourselves, but we trust that Reardon did. He researched this episode extensively.

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We never looked this up ourselves, but we trust that Reardon did. He researched this episode extensively.

170 00:30:51 Dialogue: “Say it with me”

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Dialogue: “Say it with me”

True. Brinkley really did lead crowds in spelling out his name correctly. He even handed out pencils imprinted with the correct spelling.

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True. Brinkley really did lead crowds in spelling out his name correctly. He even handed out pencils imprinted with the correct spelling.

173 00:31:19 Dialogue: “Vote count would go on for 12 days”

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Dialogue: “Vote count would go on for 12 days”

True: the polls closed November 4, and the election was decided November 16.

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True: the polls closed November 4, and the election was decided November 16.

175 00:31:34 Dialogue: “People wrote in Brinkey’s name for everything: the Supreme Court…”

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Dialogue: “People wrote in Brinkey’s name for everything: the Supreme Court…”

The Kansas City Times reported that he received votes for both Senate seats, Supreme Court justice, for Congress, and for other county positions, and that Brinkley got more than 20,000 votes in Oklahoma.

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The Kansas City Times reported that he received votes for both Senate seats, Supreme Court justice, for Congress, and for other county positions, and that Brinkley got more than 20,000 votes in Oklahoma.

177 00:32:02 Image: Vote tally

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Image: Vote tally

Woodring received 217,171 votes, to Haucke’s 216,920, and Brinkley’s 183,278.

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Woodring received 217,171 votes, to Haucke’s 216,920, and Brinkley’s 183,278.

181 00:32:34 Image: Archival of fishing trip

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Image: Archival of fishing trip

This bizarre 1934 film is a professionally filmed record of a three-month journey aboard the Brinkleys’ yacht (named the “Doctor Brinkley,” of course). It is seventy-five minuts long and culminates with Dr. Brinkley’s 788-pound tuna catch, which broke the Western Hemisphere record held by Zane Grey. The film also includes a visit to Brinkley’s birthplace …

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This bizarre 1934 film is a professionally filmed record of a three-month journey aboard the Brinkleys’ yacht (named the “Doctor Brinkley,” of course). It is seventy-five minuts long and culminates with Dr. Brinkley’s 788-pound tuna catch, which broke the Western Hemisphere record held by Zane Grey.

The film also includes a visit to Brinkley’s birthplace in Beta, NC. We loved this film so very much, in part because it contains a reference to the idea of the “fish story,” or “big fish story” – a colloquial term for an outlandish and far-fetched story full of lies… or a story that’s just too good to be true.

185 00:35:56 Text: “Sunshine Station”

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Text: “Sunshine Station”

“The Sunshine Station Between The Nations” was a reworking of his earlier KFKB slogan, “The Sunshine Station in the Heart of the Nation” (see note 67).

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“The Sunshine Station Between The Nations” was a reworking of his earlier KFKB slogan, “The Sunshine Station in the Heart of the Nation” (see note 67).

188 00:36:07 Dialogue: “5,000 watts”

Timecode: 00:36:07

Dialogue: “5,000 watts”

True (also see note 65 for details on KFKB power).

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True (also see note 65 for details on KFKB power).

197 00:37:09 Soundtrack: Carter Family

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Soundtrack: Carter Family

The Carter Family were in fact one of the “in house bands” at XERA from 1937 to 1939. “Their three year stint on XERA would turn the Carter Family from regional stars into national icons, ‘the inventors of commercial country music,’ ‘the big bang of country music,’ the first act elected to the Country Music …

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The Carter Family were in fact one of the “in house bands” at XERA from 1937 to 1939. “Their three year stint on XERA would turn the Carter Family from regional stars into national icons, ‘the inventors of commercial country music,’ ‘the big bang of country music,’ the first act elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

199 00:37:32 Image: Advertisement for happiness

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Image: Advertisement for happiness

This ad is for a line of products by a charlatan named Rose Dawn who looked a lot like Mae West. “Border performers were rated by how much mail they could ‘pull.’ Rose Dawn, Brinkley’s personal astrologer, became ‘one of the most successful mail pullers in border radio history.’ Rose would read listeners’ horoscopes, pray …

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This ad is for a line of products by a charlatan named Rose Dawn who looked a lot like Mae West.

“Border performers were rated by how much mail they could ‘pull.’ Rose Dawn, Brinkley’s personal astrologer, became ‘one of the most successful mail pullers in border radio history.’ Rose would read listeners’ horoscopes, pray for a radio fan, or give lovelorn advice for $1 per service – with no discounted rates for a combination thereof. Rose also offered a book that would make a personality ‘blossom like a flower’ or vials of perfume that would affect one’s own and other people’s behavior in an extraordinary manner, for $1 each. Some wags began referring to [Del Rio] as Dollar Rio. Rose was married to Koran, a missionary for an occult society called the Mayan Order, and the couple was ‘an ethereal sight on the streets of Del Rio as the glided past gawking onlookers in their pink Chrysler trimmed in green with orchid wheels” (Lee, 161).

201 00:38:04 Dialogue: “Kolor-Bak is a solution”

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Dialogue: “Kolor-Bak is a solution”

The Kolor-Bak radio ad is from a real XERA broadcast, c. 1937-9; the voice is one of the members of the Pickard Family. The image is also from a real Kolor-Bak ad we found online.

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The Kolor-Bak radio ad is from a real XERA broadcast, c. 1937-9; the voice is one of the members of the Pickard Family. The image is also from a real Kolor-Bak ad we found online.

202 00:38:10 Dialogue: “Kolor-Bak actually had some kind of lead”

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Dialogue: “Kolor-Bak actually had some kind of lead”

In 1922, the American Medical Association analyzed KolorBak and found it to be made primarily of lead (with some sulphur, salt and alcohol), warning that the product could cause lead poisoning.

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In 1922, the American Medical Association analyzed KolorBak and found it to be made primarily of lead (with some sulphur, salt and alcohol), warning that the product could cause lead poisoning.

203 00:38:14 Image: Kolor-Bak ad detail

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Image: Kolor-Bak ad detail

The Kolor-Bak radio ad is from a real XERA broadcast, c. 1937-9; the voice is one of the members of the Pickard Family. The image is also from a real Kolor-Bak ad we found online.

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The Kolor-Bak radio ad is from a real XERA broadcast, c. 1937-9; the voice is one of the members of the Pickard Family. The image is also from a real Kolor-Bak ad we found online.

208 00:38:48 Image: Gate

Timecode: 00:38:48

Image: Gate

This image is from a film made in 1934 about Brinkley’s fishing exploits titled “Making A World’s Record.” So, actually it’s just about chronologically correct in this usage!

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This image is from a film made in 1934 about Brinkley’s fishing exploits titled “Making A World’s Record.” So, actually it’s just about chronologically correct in this usage!

213 00:39:54 Image: Congressional bill

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Image: Congressional bill

This is indeed the text of a Congressional bill.

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This is indeed the text of a Congressional bill.

215 00:40:17 Image: Congressional bill

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Image: Congressional bill

True: Section 325(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 was written into law in an attempt to halt live broadcasting via telephone lines from radio studios in the United States linked to “border blaster” transmitters on the Mexican side of the border. This amendment is colloquially referred to as the “Brinkley Act.”

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True: Section 325(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 was written into law in an attempt to halt live broadcasting via telephone lines from radio studios in the United States linked to “border blaster” transmitters on the Mexican side of the border. This amendment is colloquially referred to as the “Brinkley Act.”

216 00:40:28 Dialogue: “Brinkley circumvented”
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Timecode: 00:40:28

Dialogue: “Brinkley circumvented”

Brinkley probably didn’t himself “invent” this method of recording on transcription discs, but he was an early adopter of the technology and was the first to use it to circumvent the new law. So many transcription discs were produced and discarded by XERA that locals supposedly used them as roofing shingles.

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Brinkley probably didn’t himself “invent” this method of recording on transcription discs, but he was an early adopter of the technology and was the first to use it to circumvent the new law. So many transcription discs were produced and discarded by XERA that locals supposedly used them as roofing shingles.

217 00:40:52 Dialogue: “Soon became an industry standard”

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Dialogue: “Soon became an industry standard”

Yup.

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Yup.

222 00:41:28 Dialogue: “He had his record breaking tuna”

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Dialogue: “He had his record breaking tuna”

True.

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True.

223 00:41:45 Dialogue: “Every Sunday evening”

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Dialogue: “Every Sunday evening”

We don’t know if it was “every Sunday evening,” but Brinkley in fact owned a giant fountain with interactive colored lights he controlled from a panel inside his house. We have seen the panel, which is still in the Brinkley Mansion, or it was as of 2009 when we visited. He also had a (rare …

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We don’t know if it was “every Sunday evening,” but Brinkley in fact owned a giant fountain with interactive colored lights he controlled from a panel inside his house. We have seen the panel, which is still in the Brinkley Mansion, or it was as of 2009 when we visited. He also had a (rare and expensive) player organ inside his house and installed giant speakers so he could play the music outside. Eventually the Brinkleys installed a parking lot across the street from their house for all the cars bringing the onlookers.

224 00:42:18 Image: Archival film of Romulus and Remus statue

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Image: Archival film of Romulus and Remus statue

This statue is a replica of the iconic “Capitoline Wolf,” depicting future founders of Rome Romulus and Remus suckling at a wolf’s teat. The image was a favorite of Mussolini’s, who liked to cast himself as the founder of “New Rome.” He gave replicas of the Capitoline Wolf to many U.S. cities called “Rome” as …

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This statue is a replica of the iconic “Capitoline Wolf,” depicting future founders of Rome Romulus and Remus suckling at a wolf’s teat. The image was a favorite of Mussolini’s, who liked to cast himself as the founder of “New Rome.” He gave replicas of the Capitoline Wolf to many U.S. cities called “Rome” as a gesture of goodwill c. 1929-1931. We don’t know where Brinkley got his copy from, but Brinkley visited Italy in 1925 (where he received a medical degree from the University of Pavia, later rescinded). He was quite enamoured of Italian culture and especially Mussolini himself.

Incidentally, the Capitoline Wolf was traditionally thought to be an Etruscan work from the 5th century B.C., with the twins added in the 15th century A.D., but recent scholarship and carbon dating have established pretty certainly that the sculpture is from between the 11th and 12th centuries A.D.

225 00:43:37 Image: Sound archival film of Brinkley’s lecture

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Image: Sound archival film of Brinkley’s lecture

The gist of this filmed lecture (from which of course we’ve only used a tiny excerpt) was to tell patients that they can’t bring their whole families with them when they visit the Brinkley Hospital. He goes on to explain this at great length. It’s very weird.

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The gist of this filmed lecture (from which of course we’ve only used a tiny excerpt) was to tell patients that they can’t bring their whole families with them when they visit the Brinkley Hospital. He goes on to explain this at great length. It’s very weird.

226 00:44:55 Image: Junk mail

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Image: Junk mail

Real circulars from Brinkley’s many ventures. We have not, until now, given you a real sense of just how much junk mail this man produced! Watch the letterheads and slogans change; he changes the name of his hospital, operation, etc. even more often than he changes their locations.

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Real circulars from Brinkley’s many ventures. We have not, until now, given you a real sense of just how much junk mail this man produced! Watch the letterheads and slogans change; he changes the name of his hospital, operation, etc. even more often than he changes their locations.

230 00:45:40 Image: Hospital, Little Rock postcard

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Image: Hospital, Little Rock postcard

Brinkley called this one “The World’s Most Beautiful Hospital” or the “Country Club Hospital.”

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Brinkley called this one “The World’s Most Beautiful Hospital” or the “Country Club Hospital.”

231 00:45:42 Image: Hospital, Downtown Little Rock

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Image: Hospital, Downtown Little Rock

This one was in downtown Little Rock.

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This one was in downtown Little Rock.

233 00:45:47 Dialogue: “Remember Del Rio”

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Dialogue: “Remember Del Rio”

Yes, this is an actual thing Brinkley said.

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Yes, this is an actual thing Brinkley said.

234 00:45:53 Image: Junk mail and ads piling up

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Image: Junk mail and ads piling up

Real circulars from Brinkley’s many ventures. We have not, until now, given you a real sense of just how much junk mail this man produced!

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Real circulars from Brinkley’s many ventures. We have not, until now, given you a real sense of just how much junk mail this man produced!

236 00:46:20 Image: True Happiness
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Image: True Happiness

An advertisement from one of his Doctor Books.

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An advertisement from one of his Doctor Books.

237 00:46:31 Image: Photos of mansion, etc.

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Image: Photos of mansion, etc.

We are now sharing lots of images that we haven’t shared before because we’ve been downplaying the true extent of both his wealth and his narcissism.

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We are now sharing lots of images that we haven’t shared before because we’ve been downplaying the true extent of both his wealth and his narcissism.

238 00:46:37 Dialogue: “No more sense than the geese”
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Timecode: 00:46:37

Dialogue: “No more sense than the geese”

“If only they had the wisdom to cooperate with the inspired healer from Milford . . . but the doctors had no more sense than the geese of Rome who could only call out ‘Quack! ‘Quack!,’” is taken directly from The Life of a Man (219).

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“If only they had the wisdom to cooperate with the inspired healer from Milford . . . but the doctors had no more sense than the geese of Rome who could only call out ‘Quack! ‘Quack!,'” is taken directly from The Life of a Man (219).

240 00:46:52 Image: Cruise ship

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Image: Cruise ship

This is the SS Normandie, considered by some to the greatest ocean liners of all time. The Brinkleys traveled aboard the Normandie in 1937 on their way home to a “grand tour” of Europe.

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This is the SS Normandie, considered by some to the greatest ocean liners of all time. The Brinkleys traveled aboard the Normandie in 1937 on their way home to a “grand tour” of Europe.

242 00:47:50 Dialogue: “In John R. Brinkley”

Timecode: 00:47:50

Dialogue: “In John R. Brinkley”

This rant/lecture by Fishbein is composed almost entirely of things he really wrote, primarily in the February 1938 Hygeia article “Modern Medical Charlatans.”

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This rant/lecture by Fishbein is composed almost entirely of things he really wrote, primarily in the February 1938 Hygeia article “Modern Medical Charlatans.”

245 00:49:24 Image: Newspaper headline

Timecode: 00:49:24

Image: Newspaper headline

We created this headline in Photoshop. None of the real ones were this clear. But Brinkley indeed sued Fishbein for libel, asserting that he was owed $250,000 in damages. By the way, by 1939 Brinkley had already sued Fishbein, the Kansas City Star, the AMA and many others quite a number of times, which we’ve …

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We created this headline in Photoshop. None of the real ones were this clear. But Brinkley indeed sued Fishbein for libel, asserting that he was owed $250,000 in damages.

By the way, by 1939 Brinkley had already sued Fishbein, the Kansas City Star, the AMA and many others quite a number of times, which we’ve left out of the film.

246 00:49:23 Dialogue: “March 22, 1939”

Timecode: 00:49:23

Dialogue: “March 22, 1939”

True. We are pleased to report that some things in this story are actually easy to verify!

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True. We are pleased to report that some things in this story are actually easy to verify!

248 00:49:31 Dialogue: “And it was packed, it was packed out the door”

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Dialogue: “And it was packed, it was packed out the door”

“Judge R. J. McMillan’s oblong little court room in the federal building is filled an hour before each day’s trial begins, but that doesn’t mean there is much of a crowd on hand. Its seating capacity is less than 100, and some twenty-five or thirty form a waiting line outside” (Millard Cope, San Angelo Standard-Times …

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“Judge R. J. McMillan’s oblong little court room in the federal building is filled an hour before each day’s trial begins, but that doesn’t mean there is much of a crowd on hand. Its seating capacity is less than 100, and some twenty-five or thirty form a waiting line outside” (Millard Cope, San Angelo Standard-Times coverage of the trial, quoted in “The Case of Brinkley v. Fishbein”, Journal of the American Medical Association, May 13, 1939, Volume 112, No. 19, p. 1952).

251 00:50:11 Dialogue: “Honorable Judge”

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Dialogue: “Honorable Judge”

True, Robert J. McMillan was the judge.

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True, Robert J. McMillan was the judge.

253 00:51:09 Dialogue: “The testimony provided by patients”

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Dialogue: “The testimony provided by patients”

It is true that the judge decided in this case that patients would not be allowed to testify, though not quite as immediately as we’ve portrayed it: “Judge McMillan took a long night to think it over. Next morning he announced his decision. ‘Gentlemen, I am of the opinion that the specific instances of malpractice couldn’t be …

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It is true that the judge decided in this case that patients would not be allowed to testify, though not quite as immediately as we’ve portrayed it:

“Judge McMillan took a long night to think it over. Next morning he announced his decision. ‘Gentlemen, I am of the opinion that the specific instances of malpractice couldn’t be shown, nor could specific instances of good result obtained by [Brinkley] be shown… [If the attempt were made], it would open up an unlimited field of evidence in which, maybe, seventy five or a hundred patients might appear and, for some reason or other, claim they had been benefited, and seventy five or a hundred might appear on the other side and claim they had been mistrated or hadn’t been benefited, and the first thing you know the drial would deteriorate from a trial of issues before the court and jury to one of prejudice and passion and feeling… I don’t think that kind of evidence is admissable'” (Brock, 239-240).

254 00:51:23 Dialogue: “Mr. Brown”

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Dialogue: “Mr. Brown”

Clinton Brown was in fact the name of Fishbein’s lawyer. Brown, a former mayor of San Antonio, was considered one of the most capable lawyers in Texas.

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Clinton Brown was in fact the name of Fishbein’s lawyer. Brown, a former mayor of San Antonio, was considered one of the most capable lawyers in Texas.

255 00:51:28 Dialogue: “Dr. Richard Ross”

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Dialogue: “Dr. Richard Ross”

We made up the name “Richard Ross” and we can’t remember why; the name of the urologist who gave this testimony at the trial was Dr. A. I. Folsom. Other than his name, this exchange is very close to that found directly in the transcript.

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We made up the name “Richard Ross” and we can’t remember why; the name of the urologist who gave this testimony at the trial was Dr. A. I. Folsom. Other than his name, this exchange is very close to that found directly in the transcript.

256 00:51:37 Dialogue: “Objection!”

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Dialogue: “Objection!”

True. Brinkley’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the goat gland surgeries were not relevant to this case, wanting (for obvious reasons) to limit testimony to Brinkley’s activities after 1933, when he stopped performing the goat gland surgeries. Judge McMillan ruled that the jury should consider the entirety of Brinkley’s career, including the goat gland surgeries, when …

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True. Brinkley’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the goat gland surgeries were not relevant to this case, wanting (for obvious reasons) to limit testimony to Brinkley’s activities after 1933, when he stopped performing the goat gland surgeries. Judge McMillan ruled that the jury should consider the entirety of Brinkley’s career, including the goat gland surgeries, when deciding whether or not Fishbein libelled him by calling him a quack.

259 00:53:20 Dialogue: “Xenotransplantation of this sort”

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Dialogue: “Xenotransplantation of this sort”

See note 12 on how many other people – real scientists and quacks alike – had attempted “xenotransplantation of this sort.”

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See note 12 on how many other people – real scientists and quacks alike – had attempted “xenotransplantation of this sort.”

261 00:53:34 Dialogue: “Would the mere transplanting of the gland”

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Dialogue: “Would the mere transplanting of the gland”

These claims were all actually made by Brinkley.

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These claims were all actually made by Brinkley.

267 00:54:53 Dialogue: “I am, I have analyzed it”

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Dialogue: “I am, I have analyzed it”

True, a chemist testified about his analysis of Formula 1020 at the trial.

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True, a chemist testified about his analysis of Formula 1020 at the trial.

269 00:55:24 Dialogue: “Doctor, what is Formula 1020?”

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Dialogue: “Doctor, what is Formula 1020?”

At the trial, chemist Dr. Eugene W. Schoeffel testified that Formula 1020 was in fact just colored water.

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At the trial, chemist Dr. Eugene W. Schoeffel testified that Formula 1020 was in fact just colored water.

274 01:00:26 Image: Chapter VI title page

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Image: Chapter VI title page

“The Soul of a Man Speaks” (which we’ve shortened to “The Soul of a Man”) is Clement Wood’s title for Chapter VIII. The entirety of Chapter VIII is dedicated to a lengthy analysis of a dream Brinkley has one night. It’s the single most amazing chapter in that book (see also note 294).

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“The Soul of a Man Speaks” (which we’ve shortened to “The Soul of a Man”) is Clement Wood’s title for Chapter VIII. The entirety of Chapter VIII is dedicated to a lengthy analysis of a dream Brinkley has one night. It’s the single most amazing chapter in that book (see also note 294).

277 01:01:13 Dialogue: “When you say to the best of your recollection”

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Dialogue: “When you say to the best of your recollection”

This insane back and forth about whether he is “absolutely certain” or “relatively certain” is taken (almost) verbatim from the transcript. Can’t make this stuff up.

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This insane back and forth about whether he is “absolutely certain” or “relatively certain” is taken (almost) verbatim from the transcript. Can’t make this stuff up.

278 01:01:41 Dialogue: “I made eleven hundred thousand dollars”

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Dialogue: “I made eleven hundred thousand dollars”

Again, we kept this pretty close to the transcript: Q– Now, what was your gross income for the year 1937? A– If I remember correctly, the gross income for 1937 was pretty close to eleven hundred thousand. Q– Doctor, wouldn’t most people refer to that number, that eleven hundred thousand, as one million, one hundred …

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Again, we kept this pretty close to the transcript:

Q– Now, what was your gross income for the year 1937?

A– If I remember correctly, the gross income for 1937 was pretty close to eleven hundred thousand.

Q– Doctor, wouldn’t most people refer to that number, that eleven hundred thousand, as one million, one hundred thousand dollars?

A– I couldn’t say what most people would say. I would say I made about eleven hundred thousand in 1937.

279 01:02:22 Dialogue: “Do you also put LLD”

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Dialogue: “Do you also put LLD”

Brinkley indeed said, “I don’t remember,” when asked about the LLD degree.

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Brinkley indeed said, “I don’t remember,” when asked about the LLD degree.

280 01:02:34 Image: The Life of a Man

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Image: The Life of a Man

We have finally come full circle: the way that The Life of a Man functioned at this trial was a major source of inspiration for the entire structure of this film. We’ve represented the way the book worked in the trial pretty accurately in this scene, with Brown reading the more absurd portions out loud …

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We have finally come full circle: the way that The Life of a Man functioned at this trial was a major source of inspiration for the entire structure of this film. We’ve represented the way the book worked in the trial pretty accurately in this scene, with Brown reading the more absurd portions out loud and forcing Brinkley to respond to them, Brinkley trying to say he doesn’t even know what’s in it, and eventually admitting he paid for it and published it himself as a sort of promotional item.

281 01:02:42 Dialogue: “Interesting reading, if you have the stomach”

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Dialogue: “Interesting reading, if you have the stomach”

Brown actually said, “Interesting reading… if you’ve got a strong stomach.”

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Brown actually said, “Interesting reading… if you’ve got a strong stomach.”

282 01:03:23 Dialogue: “To a woman named Sally Wike”
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Dialogue: “To a woman named Sally Wike”

Sally came up at the trial, but only in a minor way in trying to get Brinkley’s early life story straight. It’s not true that Sally doesn’t appear in The Life of a Man; it is true that she doesn’t appear in this film. We’ve withheld information about her both because it didn’t seem too …

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Sally came up at the trial, but only in a minor way in trying to get Brinkley’s early life story straight. It’s not true that Sally doesn’t appear in The Life of a Man; it is true that she doesn’t appear in this film. We’ve withheld information about her both because it didn’t seem too relevant and because keeping it from you until this point only adds to the sense that Brinkley’s life story – and thus, this film – has been pretty untrustworthy.

283 01:03:50 Dialogue: “You were nowhere near Johns Hopkins in 1902”
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Dialogue: “You were nowhere near Johns Hopkins in 1902”

We’re condensing a lot into this section, but it is true that Brinkley’s early life selling snake oil both with and without his first wife Sally was an important part of the evidence presented in this trial.

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We’re condensing a lot into this section, but it is true that Brinkley’s early life selling snake oil both with and without his first wife Sally was an important part of the evidence presented in this trial.

284 01:04:03 Dialogue: “Diploma from the Eclectic Medical University”
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Dialogue: “Diploma from the Eclectic Medical University”

“On May 7, 1915, the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City presented him with a certificate signed by its president, Dr. Date R. Alexander. To become an alumnus of E.M.U. (later described in court proceedings as ‘vague, obliging and long defunct’) cost Brinkley one hundred dollars and got him licensed in eight states” (Brock, 25).

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“On May 7, 1915, the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City presented him with a certificate signed by its president, Dr. Date R. Alexander. To become an alumnus of E.M.U. (later described in court proceedings as ‘vague, obliging and long defunct’) cost Brinkley one hundred dollars and got him licensed in eight states” (Brock, 25).

285 01:04:34 Dialogue: “You were incarcerated in Greenville, SC”
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Dialogue: “You were incarcerated in Greenville, SC”

True: Brinkley had been arrested for the colored water scam in Greenville, SC. Not true: it was on the very same day he claimed to be graduating. So: a chronological distortion for effect.

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True: Brinkley had been arrested for the colored water scam in Greenville, SC.
Not true: it was on the very same day he claimed to be graduating.
So: a chronological distortion for effect.

287 01:05:17 Dialogue: “I have not read this book, I do declare”

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Dialogue: “I have not read this book, I do declare”

Brinkley’s actual line was, “I declare, I don’t know what is in that biography!”

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Brinkley’s actual line was, “I declare, I don’t know what is in that biography!”

290 01:06:31 Dialogue: “How much did you pay the author?”

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Dialogue: “How much did you pay the author?”

We invented the $5,000 figure, but Brinkley did acknowledge having paid Wood to write this book in the trial.

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We invented the $5,000 figure, but Brinkley did acknowledge having paid Wood to write this book in the trial.

292 01:07:40 Dialogue: “Is goat gland surgery possible?”

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Dialogue: “Is goat gland surgery possible?”

Here is an excerpt from the trial transcript inspiring this part of this scene; we’ve condensed and clarified it greatly but the spirit is the same: Q– Now tell us, please, does a little goat gland have little nerves there, when you take a testicle out of a young goat? A– Naturally, any living organism in …

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Here is an excerpt from the trial transcript inspiring this part of this scene; we’ve condensed and clarified it greatly but the spirit is the same:

Q– Now tell us, please, does a little goat gland have little nerves there, when you take a testicle out of a young goat?

A– Naturally, any living organism in an animal body has nerves and blood vessels.

Q– Now explain to us, please, how you could make that little testicle of a 3-week old goat live and grow after you implanted it into a human testicle?

A– Some of them seemed to grow and enlarge, and others, the majority of them, went through a process of absorption.

Q– Absorption?

A– Yes, sir, they were gradually absorbed. Some of them were gone in 3 or 6 months.

Q– You mean to say that this little thing lived still inside there?

A– No sir, that is not how I conceive it.

Q– You don’t claim that you connected up the nerves or the blood vessels?

A– Oh Lord, no!

Q– You would examine the testicle before you transplanted a goat gland, would you?

A– You seem to be of the opinion that all of my gland operations were in the testicle but that’s not the case; I transplanted them in many different places. The majority were in the cremaster or in the fasciae of the scrotum.

Q– Well can you tell us about the testicle version?

A– Certain ones I took and cut a hole out of the man’s testicle and took a chunk out and filled it with the goat gland.

Q– Would you put just a little piece of the goat gland?

A– No, I would transplant the entire gland from a 3 week old goat.

Q– You would put a goat gland into one testicle and another in the other testicle?

A– Yes, and sometimes put them in the abdominal muscles. There were different places for them.

Q– Then, your goat glands had something to do with hormone production, is that it?

A– My idea of whatever good they did was that when you put them in a man, it caused him to urinate, and so forth, and he was getting that sex hormone to balance his own to the level with the female sex hormone, and that was there the good came from.

294 01:08:34 Dialogue: “That night, Brinkley had a dream”

Timecode: 01:08:34

Dialogue: “That night, Brinkley had a dream”

This dream and its analysis has been greatly condensed but not changed in tone or substance from the entire chapter (!!!) it takes up in The Life of a Man.

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This dream and its analysis has been greatly condensed but not changed in tone or substance from the entire chapter (!!!) it takes up in The Life of a Man.

295 01:09:30 Dialogue: “At this time I must”

Timecode: 01:09:30

Dialogue: “At this time I must”

Clement Wood was a well-known hack said to “churn out manuscripts nearly on demand” and to write “at the pace of 80,000 words in 30 days” (not the best pace for careful research and fact-checking). Clement Wood wrote some other biographies-for-hire. Wood’s list of published works is astonishingly diverse and poor in quality. One of …

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Clement Wood was a well-known hack said to “churn out manuscripts nearly on demand” and to write “at the pace of 80,000 words in 30 days” (not the best pace for careful research and fact-checking).

Clement Wood wrote some other biographies-for-hire. Wood’s list of published works is astonishingly diverse and poor in quality. One of his books, Flesh And Other Stories, published in 1929, was the subject of an important obscenity trial. Wood was a one-time lawyer turned teacher turned Greenwich Village hipster who supposedly hosted orgies as a means of satisfying the sexual needs of his beautiful wife Gloria Goddard; he himself was said to be impotent. He is a fascinating person that we did a lot of unnecessary research on, and his Wikipedia page deserves much more attention.

297 01:10:40 Dialogue: “The jury was sent out”

Timecode: 01:10:40

Dialogue: “The jury was sent out”

The jury returned in less than 4 hours, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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The jury returned in less than 4 hours, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.

299 01:11:20 Dialogue: “Suddenly he’s bankrupt”

Timecode: 01:11:20

Dialogue: “Suddenly he’s bankrupt”

Brinkley declared bankruptcy on February 1, 1941, claiming over a million dollars in debt.

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Brinkley declared bankruptcy on February 1, 1941, claiming over a million dollars in debt.

300 01:11:25 Dialogue: “His health collapsed”

Timecode: 01:11:25

Dialogue: “His health collapsed”

Brinkley had a heart attack on July 24, 1941. A blood clot formed in his leg and he had to have it amputated on August 29, 1941.

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Brinkley had a heart attack on July 24, 1941. A blood clot formed in his leg and he had to have it amputated on August 29, 1941.

301 01:11:31 Dialogue: “He was dead in less than 3 years”

Timecode: 01:11:31

Dialogue: “He was dead in less than 3 years”

Brinkley died on May 26, 1942 (just over three years from the conclusion of the libel case). There are many letters attesting to Brinkley’s desperation and despair during the last few years of his life; i.e., “On January 10, 1942, the doctor wrote one of his attorneys, Wallace Davis of San Antonio, begging for help: …

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Brinkley died on May 26, 1942 (just over three years from the conclusion of the libel case). There are many letters attesting to Brinkley’s desperation and despair during the last few years of his life; i.e.,

“On January 10, 1942, the doctor wrote one of his attorneys, Wallace Davis of San Antonio, begging for help: ‘I am in bankruptcy and everything I own has been sold . . . I have been in bed since August 23rd. My weight fell from 175 to 130. The amputated bone is diseased and the leg has never healed properly. I am in constant pain… Until we were indicted we could borrow money, but since the indictment even our personal friends will not take a chance . . . In days gone by I paid you every cent you charged me. One time I had to borrow money to pay you, but you were paid. I am flat on my back and helpless and I am asking for a little mercy…'” (quoted in Brock, 271-272).

302 01:11:37 Text: Malpractice / IRS

Timecode: 01:11:37

Text: Malpractice / IRS

True, although the $550,000 figure is not consistent across sources; Lee, for example, puts it at $115,000. We used the highest number we found.

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True, although the $550,000 figure is not consistent across sources; Lee, for example, puts it at $115,000. We used the highest number we found.

303 01:11:43 Text: Mail fraud

Timecode: 01:11:43

Text: Mail fraud

True. “The most crushing blow of all fell on September 22, 1941, when a grand jury in Little Rock indicted John, Minnie, and six of their former employees . . . on fifteen counts of using the mail to defraud” (Lee, 224).

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True. “The most crushing blow of all fell on September 22, 1941, when a grand jury in Little Rock indicted John, Minnie, and six of their former employees . . . on fifteen counts of using the mail to defraud” (Lee, 224).

304 01:11:48 Text: XERA seized

Timecode: 01:11:48

Text: XERA seized

True; according to the Associated Press, Mexican officials claimed that the station was broadcasting Nazi propaganda. Minnie Brinkley denied the Nazi affiliation. Historians have pointed out that whether or not the Nazi claim was true, the United States and Canada finally agreed to share use of the airwaves with Mexico – if the border radio stations …

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True; according to the Associated Press, Mexican officials claimed that the station was broadcasting Nazi propaganda. Minnie Brinkley denied the Nazi affiliation. Historians have pointed out that whether or not the Nazi claim was true, the United States and Canada finally agreed to share use of the airwaves with Mexico – if the border radio stations were shut down. So there were other incentives for this action regardless of the Nazi connection.

305 01:11:57 Text: Mexican president

Timecode: 01:11:57

Text: Mexican president

True.  See previous note.

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True.  See previous note.

307 01:12:54 Text: Brinkley died

Timecode: 01:12:54

Text: Brinkley died

True.

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True.

310 01:14:29 Dialogue: “I knew he was bilking me”

Timecode: 01:14:29

Dialogue: “I knew he was bilking me”

It was reported in the New York Press that an old man at Brinkley’s funeral said, “I knew he was bilking me… but I liked him anyway.” We made this anonymous old man into Stittsworth, because: storytelling, closure, full circle, etc.

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It was reported in the New York Press that an old man at Brinkley’s funeral said, “I knew he was bilking me… but I liked him anyway.” We made this anonymous old man into Stittsworth, because: storytelling, closure, full circle, etc.

311 01:14:41 Text: XERA wasn’t torn down

Timecode: 01:14:41

Text: XERA wasn’t torn down

True.

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True.

312 01:14:47 Text: XERA reborn as XERF

Timecode: 01:14:47

Text: XERA reborn as XERF

True. There is much more we could say about this; the history of border radio is long and rich. We recommend the book Border Radio as an entertaining primer on the subject.

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True. There is much more we could say about this; the history of border radio is long and rich. We recommend the book Border Radio as an entertaining primer on the subject.

313 01:14:55 Text: Milford flooded

Timecode: 01:14:55

Text: Milford flooded

True, but our text is off by one year: the town was flooded in 1962.

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True, but our text is off by one year: the town was flooded in 1962.

315 01:15:21 Text: Minnie lived alone

Timecode: 01:15:21

Text: Minnie lived alone

All true. The issue of Minnie’s belief is obviously not something we can verify by talking to her ourselves, but several sources indicate her continued claim that her the goat gland cure was “ahead of its time” for decades after her husband’s death.

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All true. The issue of Minnie’s belief is obviously not something we can verify by talking to her ourselves, but several sources indicate her continued claim that her the goat gland cure was “ahead of its time” for decades after her husband’s death.

317 01:16:28 Image: Johnny Boy drinking

Timecode: 01:16:28

Image: Johnny Boy drinking

“Daunted by repeated failures, Johnny turned to alcohol . . .” (Lee, 235).

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“Daunted by repeated failures, Johnny turned to alcohol . . .” (Lee, 235).

318 01:16:43 Text: Suicide

Timecode: 01:16:43

Text: Suicide

“. . . finally overwhelmed, took his own life. On October 23, 1976, police found the body of John R. Brinkley III in his home. A 9mm German Luger was in his left hand. A bullet had pierced the left side of his head and exited behind his right ear” (Lee, 235).

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“. . . finally overwhelmed, took his own life. On October 23, 1976, police found the body of John R. Brinkley III in his home. A 9mm German Luger was in his left hand. A bullet had pierced the left side of his head and exited behind his right ear” (Lee, 235).

319 01:17:16 Image: Party scene [under closing credits]

Timecode: 01:17:16

Image: Party scene [under closing credits]

We’ve based this closing credits scene on a real party at the Brinkley Mansion in April of 1937. It sounds like the best party of all time! “[W]hile a stunt pilot did barrel rolls in the opalescent evening sky, fourteen hundred guests milled about the Brinkley estate under a wide web of glowing paper lanterns. Floodlights …

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We’ve based this closing credits scene on a real party at the Brinkley Mansion in April of 1937. It sounds like the best party of all time!

“[W]hile a stunt pilot did barrel rolls in the opalescent evening sky, fourteen hundred guests milled about the Brinkley estate under a wide web of glowing paper lanterns. Floodlights buried in the bushes produced an effect of ‘intense moonlight, almost as bright as day, such as seen in Japan in the cherry blossom time.’ High-school girls dressed as geishas hoisted seventy pounds of canapes. From a twinkling bandstand a San Antonio hotel orchestra dealt out dance music and the blues. It was the biggest party the doctor ever threw, the biggest south Texas could recall. After short speeches and a big feed, the night was crowned by an apocalyptic fireworks display: dogs, cats, ducks, soldiers on horseback appeared in the heavens etched in flame, each greeted with gasps and applause (Brock, 211).