People Unfairly Judged and Villainized by History
People Unfairly Judged and Villainized by History

People Unfairly Judged and Villainized by History

Larry Holzwarth - July 15, 2021

People Unfairly Judged and Villainized by History
Sam Sheppard served 10 years for murder before the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Cleveland Police Department

19. Sam Sheppard was convicted for murdering his wife, though later acquitted

In the early morning of July 4, 1954, Marilyn Sheppard was beaten to death in her bed in her Ohio home. Her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, reported hearing her screams and twice grappling with an intruder, once in the home and again outside. Both times the intruder, whom he described as “bushy-haired”, rendered him unconscious. After weeks of investigation marked with rampant media speculation, most of which claimed Dr. Sheppard murdered his wife, he was charged. One possible motive presented by the authorities was Sheppard’s having an extramarital affair. Newspaper headlines and radio and television reports assumed his guilt. Prior to the trial beginning in October, the judge, Edward J. Blythin, told New York journalist and celebrity Dorothy Kilgallen, “Well, he’s guilty as hell. There’s no question about it”. Convicted of second degree murder, Sheppard received a life sentence.

After years of unsuccessful appeals Sheppard’s attorney died, and F. Lee Bailey took over the case. Bailey succeeded in having the United States Supreme Court overturn the conviction, a decision in which they referred to the “carnival nature” of the trial. In a second trial for the murder, Bailey won an acquittal, vaulting him into national prominence. For the rest of his life the first verdict, for which he served ten years in prison, haunted Sheppard. Though other suspects and theories regarding the case have been proposed, none have definitively solved the case. Sheppard performed for a time as a professional wrestler (as “Killer” Sam Sheppard), remarried twice, and died in 1970 as a result of advanced alcoholism. He is still widely regarded as a murderer, in a case often presented in film and television.

People Unfairly Judged and Villainized by History

 

20. Yoko Ono is still blamed by many for the dissolution of The Beatles

From early 1968 until the announcement made by Paul McCartney on April 10, 1970, the wildly popular band The Beatles grew more and more distant from each other. Despite the multiple factors which contributed to their breakup, including future management and projects, their fans immediately focused on John Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, as the cause of their sudden disharmony. In truth it wasn’t sudden at all. Ringo Starr had temporarily left the band during 1968 recording sessions. George Harrison did the same during the recording sessions for the Get Back project in 1969. John Lennon announced his departure from the band in September of that year, though he was persuaded to keep the decision private for the time being. But Paul’s announcement made official what some already suspected, and Yoko Ono became the primary cause of the breakup.

Fans and the media speculated that Yoko had permanently damaged the relationship between John and Paul, the band’s principal songwriters. In fact, by the time she appeared in the public eye the two frequently worked alone, even during projects released as The Beatles. When John recorded his song, The Ballad of John and Yoko, released as a Beatles track, of the remaining three Beatles only Paul showed up to the session. Throughout the early 1970s Yoko bore the brunt of the blame for The Beatles’ breakup, a fact John resented and denied. Harrison and Starr supported John Lennon in several of his solo projects, but for business reasons McCartney remained distant. Many Beatles fans, supported by the mass of literature purporting to describe the history of the band, continue to blame Yoko for the end of one of the greatest performing and recording acts of history.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Brutus, the Noble Conspirator”. Matthew Leigh, History Today. April 12, 2018. Online

“Marie Antoinette 1655-1793”. Article, Chateau de Versailles. Online

“Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea”. Article, the Editors, Britannica Online

“Niccolo Machiavelli”. Biography, The Great Thinkers. Online

“Nero, the Man Behind the Myth”. Article, The British Museum. Online

“The Myth of ‘Bloody Mary'”. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine. March 12, 2020

“Sherman’s March to the Sea: Scorched Earth”. Dr. John F. Marszalek, American Battlefield Trust. Online

“Captain William Kidd”. Ben Johnson, Historic UK. Online

“The feud that never was”. Erica Jeal, The Guardian. December 18, 2003

“Sympathy for the Neville”. Robert Citino, National World War II Museum (US). August 30, 2018

“Captain Bligh’s cursed breadfruit”. Caroline Alexander, Smithsonian Magazine. September, 2009

“Ulysses S Grant” Article, The White House. Online

“Life of Napoleon Bonaparte”. John Abbott. 2005

“Lucrezia Borgia: Is her bad reputation deserved?” BBC History Extra. Online

“Young Philanthropist Lessons From Ty Cobb”. Peter Lipsett, America’s Future. August 21, 2020. Online’

“The Story of Captain Edward John Smith”. Article, The National Archives (UK). Online

“Admiral Kimmel’s Story”. Husband E. Kimmel. 1955

“Joe Kennedy” Article, The American Experience. PBS.org. Online

“Sheppard Murder Case”. Article, Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Online

“Paul McCartney” Yoko Ono didn’t break up the Beatles”. Hollie McKay, Fox News. May 17, 2013

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