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Robert "Get It" Kelly

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Retrospective Interview

"Get It" pals with Ruby, worked for him, and a radio station that was owned by the city of Dallas and had DPD Channel 2. Did anybody ask them if they had a tape of it?

...Jack Ruby and I were not personal friends; as a matter of fact, I didn't like him at all, but I did come in contact with him on many business propositions. He was a "news hound" as people in the entertainment business call someone that is constantly trying to get free publicity in any way possible.

Probably 1955 [was] the first time I had any contact with Jack Ruby [and it was an] introduction that I will never forget. He owned a club called The Vegas Club, even though it was in Dallas and it was basically a late night club where all the "rounders," as they were called then, would hang out. The strippers, hoods, prostitutes, etc., were the usual crowd. Anyway, I was only 19 at the time, well under the 21-age limit, but a friend of mine that went to the club quite often talked me into going [there] one Saturday night at about 1:00 A.M.

When we walked into the door and started down an isle next to the bar, Jack Ruby met us coming from the opposite direction and immediately pulled out a 38 revolver from under his coat and pointed it directly at my friend and shouted very loudly, "I told you to never come in here, again, and I meant it!" Needless to say, I immediately turned my tail around and was out the door so fast that you could hear my feet burning leather all the way. My friend came out a couple of minutes later and [admitted] that he had gotten into a fight at the club the last time that he was there and had beaten up one of Jack Ruby's bartenders because the bartender had been going out with his girl friend. Jack Ruby didn't care, and yes, he always carried a gun just as he did when he shot Oswald.

....I next [ran into] Ruby when I worked at one of his clubs (I donít remember if it was the Carousel or the Theatre Lounge) when my group was the featured act in between the strippers. (I worked both of these clubs, but I donít remember which one Jack Ruby owned.) It would be a stripper, then a comic, then the featured act (me), a stripper, the comic, and the featured act again. We usually did three shows like this and usually got $100.00ónot each [as] there were four of us, so it was $25.00 apiece. Four guys doing rock songs for a bunch of guys that only wanted to see the strippers was a very difficult audience to entertain; but we were in ìshow businessî . . . at least that was the way we looked at it at the time.

President Kennedy had a fitness program that he was promoting [in which] he asked everyone to walk fifty miles. So as a D.J., I proclaimed that I would not only walk fifty miles around Loop 12 in Dallas, but I would broadcast all the way. (Actually I did walk all the way, but I was only on the radio between songs and news and commercials.) When I finished the walk, there were lots of people there to greet meóand who was the first with his strippers in see-through blouses? Jack Ruby, of course.

I was not surprised when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. He was mentally disturbed as far as I was concerned almost like a manic-depressiveóhigh as a kite one minute and low as a mole the next, trying to cover it up with a superiority complex. My own opinion is that he thought that the majority of the people would truly love him because he had killed the man that killed President Kennedy. I'm quite sure that it was a spur of the moment thing that just snapped in him when he got close to Oswald; after all he was always in the police stations and everyone knew him. This was his way of getting lots of press.

RK: To me it was just another of those ìfunky" jobs that we had back then and they all pretty much became a blur after a while. Jack Ruby always had a bouncer and ran a pretty tight ship as far as patrons staying under control, so maybe everyone in his places were afraid to cause any trouble. I don't know.

I didn't remember anything strange or unusual from performing at Jack Ruby's Carousel Lounge Strip Club, so I sent an e-mail to my long time friend and member of Expression, Jerry Brown, [who] worked the job with me and here is what [he] had to say about the job:

ìI really don't remember anything bizarre happening to us in those clubs. Ruby owned the Carousel that we worked in. I remember the waitresses were very friendly, and I ended up going out with one of them the next night. I don't remember the Theatre Lounge, but I don't think Ruby owned that. He obviously owned the Vegas Club, where you had some problems you had told us [about]. Jack Ruby loved the girls and the entertainment, but I never saw him do anything out of line that concerned any of us or anyone around us . . . just a peach of a guy, wasn't he?î

The other strip club that I workedóthe Theatre Loungeómust have been with Scotty McKay and his band. I was the bass player and singer with Bobby Rambo on guitar and either Paul Carney or Roger (Gougenheimer) Bland on Drums with Scotty on Piano and doing Jerry Lee Lewis-type antics for his show.

LM: Where were you and what were you doing when you learned that Ruby shot Oswald. In addition, what happened to his clubs when he went to prison?

RK: I was a disk jockey at WRR radio station in Dallas at the time. I also did all the production station promos, commercials, etc., so I was at the radio station before my regular on-air shift and someone told me that Jack Ruby had just shot Oswald. After thinking about it for a while, I really wasn't surprised.


The day Kennedy was shot, however, was a much more interesting day for me. That day, in-between doing my production work and then my regular DJ shift, I usually gave the newsman a break and sat in the newsroom. It was in-between news reports so all I was doing was being there to answer the phone.

(Background: The radio station that I worked for was owned by the city of Dallas and because of this, we had police radio, which every other radio station had, but we also had Channel 2 radio for the police, which was only for police and internal use. No one else had this. Now back to the story.)

I was giving the newsman a break and then I heard on the Channel 2 police radio speaker that the President had been shot and they were taking him to Parkland Hospital. Panic!!! Here I am, a novice D.J. that knows more about music and recording than anything connected to the newsroom, and I have just heard the most important news in history from Channel 2 radio that I donít know whether I am even supposed to be listening to and I donít know what to do.

Needless to say, by the time I got the news director on the phone and he told me to get it on the air immediately. It was too late; it was already broadcast and it didn't matter where I had heard the information. Just as soon as I had the news director on the phone, the regular newsman took over and all I was good for at that time was to take phone calls from all over the world, asking about the incident and what was going on in Dallas. It's one of those experiences where adrenaline takes over and you do whatever it takes to get through the moment, sometimes without really thinking about the situation.

...Most Cherished Events - Sharing the lounge stage (alternating shows) with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Willie Nelson (before his huge success), Kenny Rogers (before he was a super-star), Barbara Mandrell (when her sister Erleen was still playing drums with the back-up group), Little Anthony (while he still had The Imperials with him), Louie Prima and Keely Smith (and later Sam Butera and the Witnesses), Count Basie Orchestra, Don Rickles (comedian), Bill Medley (Righteous Brother without Bobby Hatfield), and many more I can't remember right now....

I was at the station all the way through my regular D.J. shift (3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.) until well after 12 midnight and then it was about 1:00 A.M. when I finally got home. The minute I walked into my house, it all finally dawned on me that the President of the United States had just been killed! I just started sobbing uncontrollably and couldn't really believe that this had happened. I had been talking about it, on the phone to radio stations all over the world, but I wasn't listening or thinking about what I was sayingóreality wasn't a part of it; just reporting breaking news. The reality hit me after I got home, and that was really painful. People always say that they remember where they were when Kennedy was shot; well, I certainly do.

.......RK: As you can probably tell from this interview I usually have something to say about whatever is asked, but I think you might have me stumped on this one. I know I must have made some mistakes but I definitely didn't keep making them. So, I have thought about it long and hard and I canít think of anything that I would do differently; well, not anything that would have made a big difference in the final outcome. I never had a hit record singing and had only moderate success as a song writer, but I have made a better than average living doing something that I love (entertaining).

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