Mary Mallon Spreads Typhoid Across New York City – Drunk History

Mary Mallon Spreads Typhoid Across New York City – Drunk History


Hello, I’m Jackie Johnson, and today,
we will be discussing Typhoid Mary.
[laughs]Let’s travel back to 1900.New York City.Immigrants were just
flooding in
from all over the worldto start their new life
in America.
And then we see
one angel face,
and she says, I’m Mary Mallon.I am Irish, I’m proud,
and I’m here to cook, baby.
So, um, Mary’s signature dishwas vanilla ice cream
with sliced peaches.
The rich people would call up
their friends and say, honey,
have you had Mary Mallon’s
peach vanilla ice cream?
It is the best friggin’
dessert that I have had!
And that’s how she got around,
word of mouth.
Old-school marketing.So… what is it?
Oyster Bay.Oyster Bay is like
the Beverly Hills of the time.
Teddy Roosevelt’s there.
That’s where he summers.
Charles Warren is there.He is the bankerto all the rich people,
including the Vanderbilts.
So what happens to his family?They all of a sudden get sick,and they say, we’re rich.We don’t have to deal
with disease.
Doctor George Soper rolls up.His job is whatever
a sanitation engineer is.Doctor Soper says, well,
honey, I’ll be honest.
Everybody in your family
has typhoid fever.
Charles says, what?What does that mean?Ty–typhoid? And–and Dr. Soper says,You could hemorrhage
from the inside!
People die from this!This is 1900.
We don’t have pills.
We don’t have, uh–
what–we don’t have…
[stammering]What’s it called?What’s that pill
that solves everything?
Antibiotics!We didn’t have that, okay?There’s no antibiotics.Okay?
[laughs]
[Derek laughing] So, Charles Warren says,Here’s a bunch of money.Hunt down the source
and kill it off.
Doctor Soper gets to business.He goes through the plumbing.He interviews
the local fishmonger.
He’s trying to find
the typhoid
and finding dead ends
everywhere he goes.
But then, all of a sudden,
he gets a call from Manhattan.
There’s a wealthy familywho just came down
with typhoid.
The little girl is very sick.She has her covers
up to her face.She says, Daddy, I’m cold.I’m very cold, Daddy!So Soper rolls up
and interviews the family.
He realizes
they just had a new chef.
He says, wait a minute.Who is the chef?And he said, well,
she was a delightful
Irish immigrant
named Mary Mallon.
And Soper says,
Wait a damn minute!
That’s the same womanwho was cookin’ for the family
at Oyster Bay!
And he says, I think
we’re onto something, baby.
I think I’m onto something.[laughs]So anyway,Soper rolls up
to Mary’s house.
He says, excuse me, ma’am.I’m pretty sure
you have typhoid fever,
and I’m pretty sure
you’re giving it
to everybody
that you’re cooking for.
And she says, excuse me?I am an Irish immigrant womantrying to make it
in 1900 New York.
How dare you accuse me
of being unsanitary?
Then she chases him out
with a fork
and says,
If you ever come back,
if you ever try to [bleep]
with my money again,
I will take you out!So, he has to get
more evidence.
He sits down at his desk.There are papers everywhere,and he says,
Oh, my God.
Eight families
Mary Mallon has cooked for–
seven of them
have contracted typhoid?
That’s not a coincidence.That’s not.That is fact, honey.[blows raspberry]I spit everywhere. – [laughs] – It happens. You know what else happens? – Hmm?
– Shit. – You look good.
You remember where you are? – We’ll see, ’cause, you know,
the brain’s fading, I’ll be honest,
the brain is going out. – I love
that you’re always honest.– Okay, so we are pissed
at this point.
The health inspector
and Dr. Soper roll up to Mary’s. They bust open the door, and they said,[singsongy]
Mary!
We have unequivocable proof
that you’re spreading typhoid
all over this damn city.What is the deal?She says, honey,
you’re making shit up.
I’m fine.And they say, Mary,are you washing your hands
after you take a shit?
Be honest.She says, if I’m being honest,no, I don’t wash
my hands thoroughly
every time I take a dump.I’m a busy woman.I’m trying
to get dessert made.
I’m trying to get
the appetizers done.
So sometimes, I gotta take
a shit while I’m at work.
I hurry up, I wipe, and I get
back in that kitchen, okay?
Time is money, and I’m trying
to make my damn money.
[Derek laughs]They said, you’re making
rich people sick.
That’s unacceptable.So they grab her
by her shit-infested wrists,and they ship her off
to North Brother Island,
which is where they quarantine
people with diseases.
Mary Mallon sits on the damn
island alone with her dog
for three years.Meanwhile, they test
her sweat, her spit, her…
[chuckles] I was gonna say
her jizz.Her eye juice.They did over a hundred tests,and they all tested positive
for typhoid fever.
Yet, she showed no symptoms.Finally,
the health inspector says,
Listen, Mary,
I’ll level with you, okay?
We want you
to get out of here,
but you gotta wash
your damn hands,
and you gotta promise
that you’re not gonna cook.
She says… Fine.And they say, okay.Pinky-swear, Mary?She says, pinky-swear,
health inspector.
– With shit-covered hands? [laughs] – That’s disgusting.
– [chuckles]– So, she peaces out
of the island.
Everything’s fine.
New York is flourishing.
Five years later, in 1915,there is a typhoid outbreakat Sloane Maternity Hospital.Two people died
at the hospital–two–
so Soper rolls up
to the hospital.
A nurse who’s very sick says,
We’re clean.
We’re a hospital.We’re not idiots.We know how to not
get typhoid,
yet we all got it!What’s happening?He says, Wait a minute.Who’s the cook here, baby?Who’s the cook?Well, it’s this delightful
Irish woman named Mary Brown!
– Mm-mm. – Who’s in the damn kitchen
of the hospital, Derek? Take a wild guess. – [laughs]– George storms
into the kitchen!
He busts open the damn doorwith his foot, as a power move.He says, I see you,
Mary Mallon!
I see you!
I see you.
And I smell you.I caught you
fecal-matter-handed, baby.
I caught you
fecal-matter-handed.So they took her back
to North Brother Island.
Twenty-three years,
she sat in quarantine,
and in 19–oh, shit.My pillow.
Hold on. Let me put my pillow back, ’cause I love
a good throw moment. I love a good
[bleep] accent pillow. Okay.In 1938, Mary dies.The minute her body…[snaps fingers]
Hit the ground,
they sliced her open,
pulled out that gallbladder.
What did they see?[snaps fingers]Live typhoid virus.Doctor Soper was like,
I knew it, bitch!
I knew it!What have I been saying?
What have I been saying?
An asymptomatic carrier
of typhoid
has been living among us
for years.
This is crazy!But you know what?
It’s America, baby.
The land of crazy,
and the land of opportunity.
– [laughs]
– Okay?
The medical journals all start
calling her Typhoid Mary.
So she is considered to be
the first asymptomatic case
of typhoid fever
in the history of the planet.
How insane is that? Honestly. – If you could tell Mary
one thing right now… – I would tell Mary,
make your money,make your ice cream,make a career
and a life for yourself,
but honey,wash your [bleep] hands. – [laughs]