Jump to content
The Education Forum
Sign in to follow this  
John Simkin

Dorothy Kilgallen: The Key Witness

Recommended Posts

In July members of the forum managed to identify the friend that Dorothy Kilgallen passed her notes on her JFK article (Florence Smith/ Florence Pritchett) that she was writing when she was murdered.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=1254

This discussion encouraged me to research Kilgallen in more detail. This included an in-depth reading of Lee Israel’s biography of Kilgallen. The problem with Israel’s book is that she knows very little about the events surrounding the assassination of JFK. Although she collected a great deal of information about Kilgallen as a person (mainly by interviewing her close friends) she was unable to use this information to fully explain her death.

Surprisingly, most books written about the JFK assassination, have not grasped the significance of Kilgallen. Most do not mention her and those who do fail to show her true role in these events. If you carry out a search of the web for Kilgallen and the JFK assassination will find very little information. One thing you will find at the top of the rankings is a disinformation piece by John McAdams (I attend to start another thread on this article where I will show point by point how he does this).

One reason Kilgallen is dismissed is that she has been categorised as a “gossip columnist” and “TV star”. She was indeed both of these (she was also a star of US radio as well). However, all her career she was also an investigative reporter. Kilgallen began her career as a crime reporter. When she was in her early 20s she became interested in miscarriages of justice. She took part in several campaigns to free people falsely accused of murder. Kilgallen was in fact the reporter who got Sam Sheppard a retrial (and consequently his freedom).

As well as being a syndicated gossip columnist for William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers, Kilgallen was given assignments by Journal American to cover important murder cases. However, Kilgallen was refused permission to cover the JFK assassination. Bob Considine got the job and he soon became one of the leading proponents of Oswald as the lone gunman theory. In fact, Considine wrote the introduction to the 1967 book, The Scavengers (Lawrence Schiller and Richard Warren Lewis). The book was a savage attack on the critics of the Warren Commission Report.

Kilgallen decided to carry out her private investigation of the assassination. In fact, she was one of the very few journalists to immediately realise that there had been a conspiracy to kill JFK. Mark Lane was once given a lecture to students on the JFK assassination and they started giggling when he mentioned Kilgallen’s role in the investigation. Lane remarked: “You’re laughing because you think of her as a gossip columnist. Well, I’m gonna tell you something. She was a very, very serious journalist. You might say that she was the only serious journalist in America who was concerned with who killed John Kennedy”. Lane’s comments about the students could be applied to most JFK researchers.

How did Kilgallen know so much about the JFK assassination? To understand this you need to realise the way she worked. By the 1940s Kilgallen was the most important gossip columnist in America. She had achieved this position by developing a very good strategy for gaining secret information about famous people. This is how it worked. Kilgallen was swamped with requests by press agents to plug the activities of their clients. For example, an actor’s latest movie or a singer’s latest record. Kilgallen always refused these requests. Instead she offered a deal. Bring me three detrimental stories concerning other stars and I will include a good piece about your client. As these stars were usual rivals of their clients, they were only too willing to do so. For really important stories, Kilgallen was even willing to plug these agent’s clients in her popular morning radio show, Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick.

Kilgallen also had other sources of information. The Hearst media organization had a team led by Jack Clements and J. B. Mathews who collected information about people with left-wing views. This was then passed on to its reporters. According to one of Hearst’s journalists, Adela Rogers St. Johns, the Hearst organization was behind what became known as McCarthyism. Hearst wanted this information to get out via Congress. At first the plan was to use Millard Tydings. However, he rejected the idea and so they used Joseph McCarthy instead. Rogers admitted this was a mistake: “we didn’t know he was a drunk. If McCarthy hadn’t been an alcoholic, the whole story would have been different, because he had the material, but he kept blowing it.”

Kilgallen also had another source of information. According to several of her close friends, Kilgallen received information from the CIA. Kilgallen was in fact an important CIA media asset. Kilgallen was given a great deal of information about the situation in Cuba. In 1959 and 1960 Kilgallen included a large number of anti-Castro stories in her column. According to her friends she was also receiving information from Cuban exiles based in Miami.

Kilgallen used her column to attack famous people who appeared to be pro-Castro. One of her targets was the TV chat show host, Jack Paar. He retaliated on national television by accusing Kilgallen of being a right-wing bigot. He even attacking her for her reporting on the recent Khrushchev visit and ended up with using the Frank Sinatra’s tactic (another one who had been on the receiving end of Kilgallen’s journalism) of describing her as the woman “with no chin”. Sinatra and Paar had been informed that Kilgallen was very conscious of this defect.

The popular perception was the Kilgallen was a rabid right-winger. This in fact was not true. As a Roman Catholic who had suffered prejudice herself, she was a keen supporter of equal civil rights. Kilgallen used her column to promote the work of black artists. In fact, most of her close friends were liberals (she was very closely associated with the jazz scene in New York). She did what she could do to protect left-wing friends from being blacklisted. However, as in the case of Louis Untermeyer, her fellow panellist on “What’s My Line”, these efforts were always unsuccessful.

Kilgallen sometimes included highly subversive material in her column. For example, on 15th July, 1959, Kilgallen became the first journalist to suggest that the CIA and the Mafia were working together in order to assassinate Fidel Castro.

J. Edgar Hoover was fully aware that Kilgallen was not a loyal right-winger. The FBI maintained a dossier about Kilgallen’s activities. As a result of the Freedom of Information Act some of these files have been published. It shows that in the 1930s and 1940s Kilgallen was seen as being “cooperative”. However, concerns about her behaviour was raised by her behaviour in the late 1950s. The FBI was not only concerned with what Kilgallen was writing. They were also concerned about the people she was associating with (their was a rumour that she was having an affair with the black singer, Bobby Short). Kilgallen was obviously considered an important figure The files that have been released shows that Hoover added his own handwritten comments in the margins of these FBI reports.

Kilgallen was also a close friend of JFK. It is almost certain they met through Florence Pritchett who had an affair with JFK between 1944 and 1963. Kilgallen worked with Prichett on the Journal American in the early days of the affair.

Kilgallen’s friendship with JFK was kept a secret. On one occasion Bobby Short was with Kilgallen at the Stock Club. JFK came over to Kilgallen and began talking to the couple. One of JFK first comments was: “Dorothy, do you remember the night we played charades at your house?” Up until that time, Short was not even aware that Kilgallen knew JFK.

Kilgallen was fully informed about JFK’s sexual affairs with women. One day she was gossiping about this with her friend Allen Stokes. He asked her why she did not write about it in her column. She replied “I couldn’t possibly”. It would indeed be a great scoop for her. But she decided to protect him.

However, Kilgallen broke this rule when on the 3rd August, 1962, she became the first journalist to refer to JFK relationship with Marilyn Monroe. She did not actually name him but left enough clues for the readers to identify JFK as the secret man in Monroe’s life (later Kilgallen claimed she was in fact referring to Robert Kennedy). One can only assume that she came under severe pressure from someone to write this story. My belief is that it was the FBI or CIA who had put her under pressure to print this information.

The following day Monroe was found dead. Kilgallen must have realised that the FBI/CIA had set her up to smear the Kennedy brothers. Rumours soon began circulating that RFK had arranged Monroe’s death to protect JFK. In reality, Monroe had been killed to implicate the Kennedy brothers in murder. At the time, the murderers must have been confident that JFK would be ousted from power. In fact, Hoover used the incident to get JFK to promise him the job as head of the FBI for life.

Kilgallen was now aware of the attempt to remove JFK. Hoover ceased to became a problem after Monroe’s death as he got what he wanted out of the deal. However, elements of the CIA were to continue this campaign and Kilgallen knew who they were. I believe that Kilgallen knew that David Phillips was behind this conspiracy. After all, Phillips was in charge of CIA’s media assets in the campaign against Cuba.

As soon as JFK was killed she began investigating his death. This resulted in a series of articles in the Journal American. She appears to have had a good contact within the Dallas Police Department. He gave her a copy of the original police log that chronicled the minute-by-minute activities of the department in the immediate wake of the assassination, as reflected in the radio communications. This enabled her to report that Chief Curry’s first reaction to the shots in Dealey Plaza was: “Get a man on top of the overpass and see what happened up there”. Kilgallen pointed out that he lied when he told reporters the next day that he initially thought the shots were fired from the Texas Book Depository.

Kilgallen also had a source within the Warren Commission. This person gave her an 102 page segment dealing with Jack Ruby before it was published. She published details of this leak and so therefore ensuring that this section appeared in the final version of the report.

In another of her stories, Kilgallen claimed that Marina Oswald knew a great deal about the JFK assassination. If she told the “whole story of her life with President Kennedy’s alleged assassin, it would split open the front pages of newspapers all over the world.”

Kilgallen’s courageous reporting brought her into contact with Mark Lane who had himself received an amazing story from the journalist Thayer Waldo. He had discovered that J.D. Tippit, Jack Ruby and Bernard Weissman had had a meeting at the Carousel Club eight days before the assassination. Waldo, who worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was too scared to publish the story. He had other information about the assassination. However, he believed that if he told Lane or Kilgallen he would be killed. Kilgallen’s article on the Tippit, Ruby and Weissman meeting appeared on the front page of the Journal American. Later she was to reveal that the Warren Commission were also tipped off about this gathering. However, their informant added that there was a fourth man at the meeting, an important figure in the Texas oil industry.

Several conspiracy books point out that Kilgallen was the only reporter to get a private interview with Jack Ruby. As far as I know, none provide the full background details of this interview. It was set up by Ruby’s lawyer Joe Tonahill. Kilgallen went to Tonahill with a message for Ruby from a mutual friend. It was only after this message was delivered that Ruby agreed to be interviewed by Kilgallen. Tonahill remembers that the mutual friend was from San Francisco who was involved in the music industry. Any idea of who that could be?

The interview with Ruby lasted eight minutes. No one else was there. Even the guards agreed to wait outside. Officially, Kilgallen never told anyone about what Ruby said to her during this interview. Nor did she publish any information she obtained from the interview. There is a reason for this. Kilgallen was in financial difficulties in 1964. This was partly due to some poor business decisions by her husband, Richard Kollmar. The couple also lost the lucrative contract for their popular breakfast show. Kilgallen also was facing an expensive libel case concerning an article she wrote about a fellow journalist. In 1964 her financial situation was so bad she fully expected to lose her beloved house at 45 East 68 Street off Park Avenue.

Kilgallen was a staff member of Journal American. Any article about the Jack Ruby interview in her newspaper would not have helped her serious financial situation. Therefore she decided to include what she knew about the JFK assassination in the book she had been working on for several years: Murder One. The book was a series of chapters on famous murder cases she had worked on. The last chapter was to be on the JFK assassination. She fully expected that this book would earn her a fortune.

Mark Lane said in 1976 that “I would bet you a thousand-to-one that the CIA surrounded her as soon as she started writing those stories.” I agree. Dick Billings played this role when Jim Garrison was working on his investigation. Billings was also called in to monitor Gaeton Fonzi and his team in 1976-78. Who did the CIA use against Kilgallen.

The only new person who became close to Kilgallen during this period was her new young secret lover. Lee Israel calls him the “Out-of-Towner”. He arrived on the scene in June, 1964. According to Israel she met him in Carrara during a press junket for journalists working in the film industry. The trip was paid for by Twentieth Century-Fox who used it to publicize three of its films: The Sound of Music, The Agony and the Ecstasy and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Israel claims that the “Out-of-Towner” went up to Kilgallen and asked her if she was “Clare Boothe Luce”. This is in itself an interesting introduction. Kilgallen and Luce did not look like each other (see below). Luce and her husband (Henry Luce) however were to play an important role in the JFK assassination. Henry Luce, a CIA media asset, owned Life Magazine and arranged to buy up the Zapruder film. Life Magazine also successfully negotiated with Marina Oswald the exclusive rights to her story. This story never appeared in print.

Clare Boothe Luce also worked with William Pawley in financing anti-Castro Cubans in Miami. According to Gaeton Fonzi (The Last Investigation), Luce also took part in a disinformation campaign during the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.

I don’t believe “Out-of-Towner” did use this line when he met Kilgallen. I suspect that Kilgallen suspected he was a CIA spy. She therefore told her friends this is what he said so that if anything happened to her, a future investigator would realize that “Out-of-Towner” was a CIA agent with links to Clare Boothe Luce. Unfortunately for her, investigators missed this clue.

Why does Israel not name Kilgallen’s young lover? She knew who he was because she interviewed him for her book on Kilgallen. The story goes that she was worried that he would take her to court if he was named in the book. But why? She does not accuse him of murdering Kilgallen. All Israel does is to suggest that he met her on the night she was killed. I believe it was his employers, the CIA, who placed pressure on Israel not to name him. She also gives him a false identity by claiming he was a songwriter when in reality he was a journalist.

I suspected that someone in the past had investigated who “Out-of-Towner” was. I typed in “Kilgallen” and “Out-of-Towner” into Google. The first page was my own page on Kilgallen. The second page gave me several of the answers I was looking for.

It was a letter written in 1993 by a student journalist called David B. Henschel. This letter had been added to the IETF Mailing List Archive. In 1993 Henschel decided he would investigate the identify the “Out-of-Towner”. In her book, Israel claims that a press agent, Harvey Daniel, saw Kilgallen with this man in the cocktail lounge of the Regency Hotel a few hours before she died. Henschel visited the Regency and after interviewing several witnesses he discovered that “Out-of-Towner” was a journalist called Ron Pataky. At the time of Kilgallen’s death, Pataky was working for the Columbus Citizen-Journal. Henschel tracked down Pataky who admitted he was the “Out-of-Towner” named by Israel. However, he insisted he never had an affair with Kilgallen. Nor did he meet her on the night of her death. Instead he had a long conversation with her on the phone.

Henschel believes Pataky killed Kilgallen. I disagree. The CIA would not have employed a journalist to have killed Kilgallen. His role was to discover what she knew about the JFK assassination. He probably helped the CIA gain access to Kilgallen’s home the night she was murdered. (I will go into this in more detail in a later posting).

Did Kilgallen tell Pataky what she knew about the assassination of JFK? She was definitely very much in love with Pataky at the time she died. I am sure if she told anybody it would have been Pataky or Florence Pritchett (she died two days after Kilgallen). If so, it would be well worth interviewing Pataky. If you are in the United States and you want to do this, send me an email and I will give you further details.

Clare Boothe Luce (left)

Dorothy Kilgallen (right)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John - I noted your comment:

In reality, Monroe had been killed to implicate the Kennedy brothers in murder. At the time, the murderers must have been confident that JFK would be ousted from power.

I'd be interested to know on what sources or on what information you base this statement.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(1)  Kilgallen was the only reporter to get a private interview with Jack Ruby. It was set up by Ruby’s lawyer Joe Tonahill. Kilgallen went to Tonahill with a message for Ruby from a mutual friend. It was only after this message was delivered that Ruby agreed to be interviewed by Kilgallen. Tonahill remembers that the mutual friend was from San Francisco who was involved in the music industry. Any idea of who that could have been?

John, I believe this might be Mike Shore-- though he was from Los Angeles, not San Fran.

Interesting character - even for this case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Folks, this is a stretch but was Gruber a friend of Mike Shore?

I seem to recall that Ruby's alibi for calling Gruber immiediately after the assasination was that he wanted to get some connections which might help him promote a story/book/movie about the assassination - well that and that he was discussing sending one of his dogs to Gruber (not likely).

I think this is in Seth Kantor's book ....or something similar at least.

-- Larry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Folks,  this is a stretch but was Gruber a friend of Mike Shore?

Not impossible. Gruber worked for Cohen. Belli was Cohen's lawyer. Shore knew Belli.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greg, on a side note, Belli's law partner has described receiving a call from the Desert Inn, from a fellow he had known in Havana, right after Ruby shot Oswald. The call was for Belli and the caller wanted him to defend Ruby but under the condition that all payments would be represeted as coming from Ruby's brother.

The caller was most likely Roselli. Hinckle and Turner identify Gruber as having associated with Roselli in L.A. Peter Dale Scott identifies Grumer as a long time associate of Cohen.

Also, on November 12th, Ruby phoned Candy Barr and talked to her for 14 min. She had been Cohen's favorite girl for awhile and there is good reason to supposed Cohen and several L.A. folks knew of Ruby through her, Ruby tried to intervene when she was sent up for drugs. There was supposed to be a dynamite book on her a couple of years ago but supposedly it got pulled before publication.

I suggest somebody check Ruby's testimony on the Gruber call about this because I'm virtually certain he says he called Gruber about his media or film connections and that might indeed give a tie -- and that is something Kilgalen might have dug up and used as an introduction. Hck, Jack may have still had an idea he might end up in a book himself...hers.

-- Larry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve Thomas has posted this on another thread:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=1642

In the thread on Dorothy Kilgallen, John mentioned that Dorothy got the interview with Ruby by mentioning a mutual contact in San Francisco who was in the music business. I suggested that this person might be either Alex Gruber or Frank Goldstein, although I don't know enough about either of them to know if either was involved in the music industry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone know if Mike Shore, Alex Gruber or Frank Goldstein were involved in the music industry? Kilgallen definitely had a lot of friends in the industry and most nights could be found in jazz clubs. This upset Hoover who was concerned by the colour and political opinions of the people she was mixing with. It was at this time that Hoover (and the CIA) realised that Kilgallen was not to be trusted to push right-wing opinions in her column and radio show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does anyone know if Mike Shore, Alex Gruber or Frank Goldstein were involved in the music industry? Kilgallen definitely had a lot of friends in the industry and most nights could be found in jazz clubs. This upset Hoover who was concerned by the colour and political opinions of the people she was mixing with. It was at this time that Hoover (and the CIA) realised that Kilgallen was not to be trusted to push right-wing opinions in her column and radio show.

John, Gruber was ostensibly in a similar line of work to Ruby's brothers... selling bic-a-brac and household wares. He lived in Los Angeles.

Goldstein was from San Fran, but was a bookie. Ruby had worked for him when he moved to that city in the '30's.

Shore worked for Reprise Records in Los Angeles. I think Tonahill most likely misremembered which city the person was from, or maybe Shore was temporarily in San Fran at the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank Sinatra.

In 1960 he co-founded Reprise Records, where he recorded exclusively after 1963.

Any help?

On Saturday November 23, 1963, Jack Zangetty, the manager of a $150,000 modular motel complex near Lake Lugert, Oklahoma, remarked to some friends that “Three other men, not Oswald, killed the President.” He also stated that “A man named Ruby will kill Oswald tomorrow and in a few days a member of the Frank Sinatra family will be kidnapped just to take some of the attention away from the assassination.” Two weeks later, Jack Zangetty was found floating in Lake Lugert with bullet holes in his chest, and he had been dead for about two weeks.

Apparently Frank Sinatra and Irv Kupcinet were well acquainted. The Karyn Kupcinet murder wasn't solved... Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe?

Just thinking...

Edited by Antti Hynonen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Frank Sinatra. In 1960 he co-founded Reprise Records, where he recorded exclusively after 1963. Any help?

Interestingly, Kilgallen had a long running dispute with Sinatra. It all started in October, 1952 when she revealed that Ava Garner was “living it up North of the Rio Grande”. Eight days later reported he was contemplating suicide over the break-up with Garner.

Sinatra responded by making unpleasant comments about Kilgallen during his night-club act. In February, 1956, Kilgallen wrote in her newspaper column: “Success hasn’t changed Frank Sinatra. When he was unappreciated and obscure, he was hot-tempered, egotistical, extravagant, and moody. Now that he is rich and famous… he is still hot-tempered, egotistical, extravagant, and moody.”

Someone close to Sinatra was feeding Kilgallen with information about him. Maybe it was Mike Shore who was doing this. It also raises issues about why Kilgallen knew so much about Mafia activities.

I had an email about this from Larry Hancock yesterday:

If you do a NARA search you will find 74 entries on her (Kilgallen) and see that the FBI was maintaining a much bigger file than the CIA was. If I were looking for clues to her murder though I would not think of anything other than that the mob side of the conspiracy had her eliminated due to her contact with Ruby. As I have said before, almost all of the real mysterious deaths have to do with Ruby and reflect mob cover-up not government agencies, the mob guys exposed themselves badly by having to use Ruby - he was by far the greatest risk to the conspiracy.

I would also point out that I have identified the Moe Dalitz/Lansky "Jewish" Mafia as heavily involved in the infrastructure that Roselli leveraged for his part... and of course Ohio was Dalitz city. I would submit that if anybody sent Pataky it was them... would be interesting to know if he had any connection to organized crime there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greg wrote:

John, Gruber was ostensibly in a similar line of work to Ruby's brothers... selling bic-a-brac and household wares. He lived in Los Angeles.

Goldstein was from San Fran, but was a bookie. Ruby had worked for him when he moved to that city in the '30's.

Shore worked for Reprise Records in Los Angeles. I think Tonahill most likely misremembered which city the person was from, or maybe Shore was temporarily in San Fran at the time.

We know from his telephone calls, that Ruby knew both Shore and Goldstein.

Calls made from Jack Ruby's telephone

Sorted by State

9/26/63 - 11/22/63

http://www.jmasland.com/ruby_telephone_state.htm

State City Date Time Duration Person Calling Person Called Number Called

CA Los Angeles 10/26/63 22:17 3 Unknown Mike Shore BR 2-9836

CA San Francisco 11/12/63 22:15 10 Unknown Frankie Goldstein JU 7-7674

Steve Thomas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems clear that Jack and his brother both knew Mike Shore and that the connection was not one that anybody wanted to discuss (Irwin Weiner being an excellant example). The following is from a quick google search:

"Mike Shore, a Californian involved in the entertainment field (2267) also attended school with Weiner and Earl Ruby,(2268) and he and Weiner had been involved in a number of business transactions. (2269) Jack Ruby also called Shore numerous times in 1963 to seek help with his labor problems,(2270) including calls in the days before and after the October 26 call to Weiner. Weiner stated that Shore never mentioned to him the calls from Ruby.(2271) Shore may have prompted Ruby's call to Weiner, however, by mentioning the latter's name in one of' his 1963 telephone conversations with Ruby. "Ruby asked if he should call Weiner about the trouble he was havingwith AGVA but Shore replied, 'What can he do ?.' Shore did not know if Ruby did call Weiner."(2272) (Earl Ruby worked with Shore following the Oswald shooting to raise defense funds and to secure an attorney.)(2273)"(a)

Seems like Shore might be a good candidate for an introduction to Jack Ruby for Dorothy...we need to know more about his entertainment activities.

(a) courtesy of none other than McAdams' WEB site....grin, Larry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure how relevant any of this is but there was a book written about Sinatra titled 'All The Way: A Biography Of Frank Sinatra' by Michael Freedman. Industry insiders say that the book was actually authored by Mike Shore.

Also Shore was loosely connected to the production of a film in 1964 called 'Pajama Party'. Interestingly enough, Dorothy Kilgallen made an uncredited cameo appearance in the film. Also cast in the movie was Kerry Kollmar, third child to Kilgallen and Dick Kollmar.

Kerry went on to set-up a thing called Martial Hearts which is a self-defense organization committed to stopping violence against women.

Kerry can be contacted via this email address - kkollmar@ix.netcom.com

Maybe there is an interesting perspective here on offer, even though Kerry was only a child at the time.

FWIW.

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should have elaborated on that loose connection between Shore and the movie, 'Pajama Party'.

It is via the guy who composed the score, Les Baxter. Baxter was a close friend of Sinatra's and did lots of big band arrangements for him. Baxter recorded 5 albums for Reprise during the 1962 - 64 period. Shore being the ad exec at Reprise was behind the industry push.

FWIW.

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×