Buffalo Courier-Express, November 22
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Lee Tracy, American movie actor who had been in custody and questioned on a complaint that he had “offended public morals,” left by airplane for Juarez and El Paso, racing against a new order for his arrest which Neraclio Rodriguez, acting prosecutor of the federal district, said he was obtaining.

Tracy, after receiving the permission of police to leave, departed in a private plane this morning in what authorities called an apparent violation of Rodriguez’s order which freed him on his own recognizance on the condition he remain in the city pending a further examination of the complaint.

Rodriguez ordered police in all border towns to arrest the actor.

The American was arrested for the second time yesterday on the complaint of Alfonso Esparza, a lawyer who said he and his 12-year-old daughter saw Tracy standing unclothed on the balcony of a hotel.

Newspapers, meanwhile, announced that theatergoers will boycott the film, “Viva Villa” in which Tracy had a part, and the government inspector supervising the picture called it “an absurd outrage against Mexico.”

Tracy spent two hours in jail Monday morning and five hours there last night after which he was released, but ordered to remain until the complaint is more fully investigated.

The actor admitted to police that he shouted at cadets from a balcony of his hotel room Sunday morning, but denied he had been undressed at the time.

“I had no intention of insulting Mexico, and if I did, I am sorry,” he said, “but when I heard the music of a parade Sunday morning I went out on the balcony. It is true that I shouted at the cadets, but it is not true that I was nude.”

While the Mexico City incident didn't destroy Lee Tracy's career, it inflicted a lot of damage — and blossomed into a Hollywood legend that has been so embellished over the years that the truth will never be known. Even Tracy revised his version a few times.

What's true is that Tracy was fired from the film and was replaced by Stu Erwin. Howard Hawks, the original director of "Viva Villa," also was let go and was replaced by Jack Conway.

Tracy specialized in playing fast-talking reporters and press agents with few (if any) scruples. He also had a reputation for getting drunk regularly and often showing up late for work.

He played reporter Hildy Johnson in the Broadway version of "The Front Page," and when he arrived in Hollywood was kept busy in 1932 and 1933 (up until November) in such films as "Washington Merry-go-Round," "Dinner at Eight" and "Bombshell," the last two with Jean Harlow.

As for the Mexico City incident, the favorite version (and one that almost certainly contains no truth) is that he stood on a balcony and urinated on Mexican cadets who were parading past his hotel. This set up the obvious line about Lee Tracy pissing away his career.

The Wikipedia biography of Tracy sort of supports this fairy tale with a reference to Desi Arnaz, who claimed he had worked on the film, and also that from then on Mexicans would disperse any time an American stepped out onto a balcony.

First, there's no evidence the Cuban-born Arnaz was anywhere near Mexico City when the film was made. Arnaz didn't appear in his first movie until 1940.

Second, there was no balcony at the hotel. As Tracy explained in an ad he placed in Modern Screen magazine:

"I did nothing shameful or disgraceful while in Mexico. I was fully clothed. There was no balcony. I was in a hotel room seven stories above the ground, peering over an iron grating that reached to my chest."

Actor-director Irving Pichel claimed he was in Tracy's room and he supported the actor's version, except for saying Tracy had a blanket over his shoulders. (Tracy, during one of his interviews, said he was wearing only pajama bottoms; in another he mentioned the blanket.)

Long story short, Tracy shouted something at the passing cadets. He claimed he said nothing offensive, but whatever it was got lost in translation. Someone — a cadet, perhaps — shouted back something Tracy took as an insult, so the actor yelled again, this time telling the cadet where he could go.

Perhaps in his excitement he dropped the blanket, which gave the impression to the Mexican father on the street that the American actor was unclothed. Had Tracy actually urinated through the grate then you can bet that father would have added that detail to his complaint.

As mentioned, Tracy kept working in films and later in television until 1965, three years before he died at age 70. His last big screen role was in 1964's "The Best Man" when he played fictional United States president Art Hockstader.