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An account of a conversation with John and Nellie Connally about the JFK assassination


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Michael Danzig email to Robert Morrow on June 13, 2021
 
Account of Conversation With John and Nellie Connally During Car Ride From Los Angeles Airport to Beverly Hills Hotel, January, 1992
 
By Michael Danzig
 
June 12, 2021
 
My name is Michael Danzig, I grew up on Long Island, New York, I graduated from The University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin in 1969. After, I lived in Amsterdam for five years, and worked with The Khamphalous Light Show Group at the Paradiso Club there, and toured all over Europe with groups such as Pink Floyd, and others. In 1974 I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screenwriting, during which time I had numerous freelance writing jobs, but never achieved an onscreen credit. Subsequently, I taught high school history in the Los Angeles Unified School District for two decades. I am now retired. While I was writing, I supported myself driving a limousine for Dav-El Limousine Inc.
 
The company had numerous show business accounts. I usually drove a town car, which gave me the opportunity, if the client was in a talkative mood to have conversations with some of society's most renowned personalities. Among the memories that stand out are Mick Jagger, who sat in the front seat, and shared a joint with me, as he talked about the coming video revolution in music. I had a lively political discussion with the great playwright, and former Marilyn Monroe husband, Arthur Miller. George Harrison was quite friendly, and we talked about the world situation, and American and English politics. Alexander Haig, former secretary of defense under Reagan, was mad that The Beverly Hills Hotel had not placed in his room his customarily offered bottle of his favorite Scotch. John Ehrlichman, of Watergate fame, was joking about being recognized in the hotel lobby. Deborah Harry, known as Blondie, who I drove to her concert at The Greek Theater, wore onstage a T-shirt I gave her that my girlfriend made with hearts on it to sing her hit, "Heart Of Glass." Sharon Stone, who I drove for a week, shared her dislike of a certain star with whom she shared the screen in one of her hit movies. Diane Sawyer, the highly accomplished newswoman, was so talkative and friendly she gave me a hundred and thirty dollar tip for a ride to the airport. Meryl Steep encouraged me to continue pursuing my quest to become a screenwriter, and gave me the advice to explore my own experience for material. Robin Williams sat in the back seat, and didn't say a word. Steven Spielberg handed me a thin manila envelope, probably with a three-page screen treatment in it, and asked me to put it in the trunk, although he had no luggage or briefcase. I also picked up Robert Wagner from The Santa Monica Airport the morning his wife Natalie Wood drowned, but that's a whole other story for another venue. There were many famous people, who I drove over the decade and a half I worked there, but none  so memorable or historic as the former governor of Texas and Treasury Secretary John Connally and his wife Nellie. I picked them up at the Los Angeles Airport, and took them to their hotel in Beverly Hills on the day they appeared on CNN on The Larry King Show. The Oliver Stone movie, "JFK" had opened the month before and had generated worldwide controversy.
 
I had become fascinated with the assassination in 1975, when I watched the first public broadcast of the Zapruder film on Geraldo Rivera's show "Good Night, America." As a limo driver, there was plenty of dead time to read, and I consumed everything from Sylvia Meagher to Col. Fletcher L. Prouty to Anthony Summers, and David Lifton.
 
Thus, when the Dav-El dispatcher, Gordon, handed me the job slip for a pick-up at the airport, and I read the name "Mr. and Mrs. John Connally" I almost collapsed in shock. This was to be my personal appointment with history: I would be transporting in a Lincoln Town Car the two people who were riding in the presidential limousine on November 22, 1963 with President John Kennedy when he was murdered. This was beyond belief, and my brain trembled with anxiety, as I drove to the LA Airport. The plane was on time, and our airport greeter brought the couple to the curb. I got out, and opened the doors for them, and put their luggage in the trunk.
 
I took Motor Avenue to the hotel. This street is a special route from the airport to Beverly Hills, which most limo drivers know as a way to avoid traffic, and give the clients a nice drive. It's a beautiful winding, tree-lined road through the upper middle class suburb of Cheviot Hills. It connects the studios of MGM  in Culver City with those of 20th Century Fox in Beverly Hills. It was specially built in the 1920's by Louis B. Meyer, head of MGM, so he could conveniently drive to have lunch with Darrel B. Zanuck, who was chief of 20th Century Fox. I told the Connallys this story as we drove, and they laughed easily, and asked me some questions about the movie industry. They appeared quite friendly and informal, and since they mentioned they were going on The Larry King Show later I felt confident enough to ask them what they thought of the  JFK movie. 
 
Connally said he didn't agree with the premise that an arm of the government had conspired to kill Kennedy, but that director Oliver Stone had gotten right the fact he was not hit by the same bullet as the president. I started throwing in some details from my reading, and they seemed open to a discussion. The book, "Double Cross" by Chuck Giancana had just come out, where he said his brother, Sam, the late Mafia crime boss of Chicago, admitted to him the mob's involvement in the killing of the president, and I asked Connally what he thought about it. I also reminded him that there was a recent item in the news concerning a man named Frank Ragano, the lawyer of the late mob boss of Florida, Santos Trafficante. He had stated to an author that Trafficante on his death bed had told him he had had a hand in the assassination, along with Carlos Marcello, Mafia boss of New Orleans. Connally said he had read about that, and his wife said she had, too.
 
Connally then said that he had always told the public and the Warren Commission that he knew for sure Kennedy had been hit by the first shot (the neck shot), and that he, Connally, was hit by the second one, and that the third bullet was the kill shot that hit Kennedy in the head. His wife chimed in that's what she witnessed, and that they had never deviated from their testimony. I offered the observation that therefore "The Magic Bullet Theory" must be incorrect, and either Oswald didn't act alone or didn't pull the trigger at all. They both agreed with me, and maintained they believed the Warren Commission was wrong in their conclusion that Oswald acted alone.
 
At that point, as we were driving through this most peaceful neighborhood one could imagine, and to this day, I recall vividly looking in the rearview mirror at John Connally's face as I got up the nerve to ask him the question on the whole world's mind for the last twenty-nine years; who do you think did it? And as I asked it, I realized I was asking the man who had been sitting two feet from the president when he was killed. Connally replied, "I think it was the mob. I think the Mafia killed him, and the recent information that just came out about Giancana and the other guy proves what I've always thought." I then gently prodded them about why the Warren Commission said it was Oswald alone. I remember Nellie Connally, who was the nicest person with the friendliest, cheerful smile say, as I looked at her face in the  mirror: "We don't know, we've been trying to figure that one out forever, but we only know what happened because we were there."
 
I remember telling them a few more details about the mob because I had recently read the Giancana book, and I threw in facts about Ruby and his connections to known Chicago gangsters; he was said to have phone numbers in his book linked to them, as well a couple of Dallas mob operators. Then Nellie said, with a laugh, "You know more about this than we do. We should bring you on Larry King with us." And we all laughed about the idea of them bringing their driver on the show. 
 
Then, as we turned onto Pico Boulevard in front of the entrance to the 20th Century Fox Studio lot, the subject abruptly changed back to the movie industry. I gave them my standard limo driver history of the old studio system, and how it had radically changed in the sixties, and the story of the creation of Century City as a real estate scam. We drove down Avenue Of The Stars and into Beverly Hills. I'm not sure if I dropped them off at The Beverly Hills Hotel or the Beverly Wilshire, but as I opened the door for them, they thanked me, and said they enjoyed the ride. I said I'd watch them on Larry King tonight, and they smiled and thanked me again, and disappeared into the hotel.
 
And that was my brush with history.
 
Interestingly enough, in 2008, while reading "JFK And The Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters" by James Douglass, I discovered that I had an additional two degrees of separation from the late president in another way. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, James Douglass describes the secret negotiations he uncovered between Khrushchev and Kennedy. The go-betweens were Norman Cousins, editor of The Saturday Review, and a distinguished author on international relations, and Father Felix Morlion, an advisor to Pope John XXIII. It so happens my father, David Danzig, who was a professor at Columbia University, and a specialist in intergroup relations, and an author of articles that appeared in Cousins' magazine and in "Commentary" had known both men quite well, and both had been to dinner at our house in Sands Point, NY in the late fifties and early sixties. Although I was only thirteen or so when I met them, I still remember both men very well. They were quite distinctive. It's hard to forget an imposing priest in a collar with a pronounced Italian accent discussing his conversations with the pope at the Vatican. So when I read these pages in Douglass' book, I thought back to meeting the Connallys, and realized I had had four meetings of people with two degrees of separation from one of the men who I admired most in history, John F. Kennedy. Two of those people had been with the late president in a tragic setting, and two in a triumphal setting. Then I remembered my ninth grade history class, and a debate I participated in about the 1960 presidential election. My classmate argued for Richard Nixon. Then I stood up in front of the class and gave my argument for why John Kennedy should be elected president. After I finished the whole class clapped. I had obliterated my opponent. 
 
Now, thinking back all those years, and writing this testimony, which by the work of Robert Morrow will be placed in the historical files of the Kennedy assassination, it seems somehow for me the circle has been completed.
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Great post.

Yes, Connally and his wife never wavered in their testimony, and their recounting of the event is verified by the Z film. 

The weak link in the "Mob did it" storyline is the LHO backstory.

LHO was a CIA asset, and the CIA was doing a biography build on the LHO. So how did the Mob get LHO to commit the JFKA, or frame him so expertly, if LHO was a CIA asset?  

Even if the Mob provided the actual triggermen (which I doubt), the framing of LHO had to require CIA involvement, and the immediate release after the JFKA of the "World War III" virus---that is, if LHO was not defined as a leftie-loner-loser, then US hawks would launch an unprovoked nuclear war on Russia. The LHO meeting with KGB wet-work chief Kostikov in Mexico City, and the Katzenbach memo, etc.  The Mob had no inkling of LHO activities in Mexico City. 

The backstory and the cover-up are way beyond the Mob. 

The Connallys are to be credited for their honest and forthright description of what happened in Dallas that day---many others buckled under pressure to hew to an accepted narrative. 

Add on: The Mob angle was pursued by HSCA chief counsel Blakey, a veteran Mob-hunter. He said wiretaps had exonerated Mobsters with the exception of Marcello, but that was because Marcello was not wiretapped.

But there is no evidence that LHO ever worked for Marcello, or had affiliations with mobsters, but there are volumes of evidence of LHO meeting with intelligence assets Bannister, Ferrie, Mohrenschildt, or doing un-Mob things like meeting with Kostikov, and spending time in Russia. Lest anyone forget, LHO was affiliated with the US Marines, and received an honorable discharge. 

Jack Ruby is another story...

My guess is the CIA turned to the Mob to erase LHO.

 

 

 

Edited by Benjamin Cole
typo/small add on
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3 hours ago, Benjamin Cole said:

 

Jack Ruby is another story...

My guess is the CIA turned to the Mob to erase LHO.

 

 

 

That's my guess too BC.

With a little help from friends in the Dallas PD.

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5 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

That's my guess too BC.

With a little help from friends in the Dallas PD.

Joe B- Jack Ruby did get in DPD building somehow, on the other hand he was familiar with the premises. 

Ruby refused to say how he got into the DPD, which does suggest collusion, but is not proof. 

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B.C.

I watched Jack Ruby shoot Oswald on live national TV.

It was a Sunday morning 11,24,1963.

Fairly early that morning as we here in California are two hours behind Texas time.

I was 12 years old.

I had been glued to our super old and grainy black and white TV that my brother and I got to put in our bedroom after our cheap step father finally broke down and bought a new color TV.

I had that TV on since being sent home from 7th grade classes at noon California time on 11,22,1963.

I was mesmerized by the whole event and there was constant national TV coverage of it, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Everyone was more than shocked by JFK's slaughter on an open street in Dallas in broad daylight. It was all anyone was talking about.

I knew all the general information that had been broadcast since Friday afternoon.

Kennedy shot in the head. He was dead.

A suspect named Lee Harvey Oswald picked up within hours of the shooting.

Who the heck was this guy Oswald? He looked so small, slight, not crazed or threatening looking.

The seemingly quite extensive information coming out about Oswald just in the first 48 hours clearly made him seem like a scary commie.

I also clearly remember hearing and reading news reports of unprecedented numbers of death threats against Oswald coming in by the tens of thousands.

Because of this death threat reality, I was really shocked at how the Dallas PD had been bringing Oswald out to the press crowd so openly and often.

Friday afternoon, Friday evening, Sunday morning.

Shouldn't this guy have been heavily sequestered and protected in an unprecedented way considering thousands if not millions of people wanting his head?

I was pretty precocious politically for a 12 year old. I read a lot in the papers and JFK and Jackie Kennedy were really popular at that time and seriously inspiring. The magazine world loved them and they seemed to be constantly on the front pages.

They were bigger than Hollywood!

JFK's assassination was not just disturbing in the brutal murderous loss of a president, but a young, attractive and incredibly dynamic one who was truly, truly inspiring to most of us in the baby boom generation.

The whole event was hard to believe as a reality. It begged a million questions and suspicions.

I've related my thoughts and feelings about watching the Oswald killing in the Dallas PD parking basement live that Sunday morning several times here on the forum over the years.

I believe it's relevant sharing because it surely reflects what tens of millions of Americans also felt watching a shocking, history changing murder happen right in front of their eyes live on national TV.

And such an improbable one considering the foreknowledge of the unprecedent level of threats against Lee Harvey Oswald, and the fact that it happened right inside the Dallas Police Department building!

I have a very good memory. I clearly remember my thoughts while watching Oswald being brought around a corner in back of the corridor leading to the parking garage and the packed press crowd waiting there.

The first thought I had, seriously, was how openly exposed Oswald was.

Just two escorts at his side. Oswald practically even a little in front of these two guards as they walked.

I honestly thought Oswald would have a cordon of officers all around him at all times for his own safety.

Howdy Doody had more physical protection in his public appearances.

I had an immediate bad gut feeling about Oswald's openness.

Then, as Oswald was fairly close to the press crowd you see this stocky, heavy set, dark suited man burst out from the front of the press line and get one deathly location gun shot into Oswald's gut.

At that "second" I unconsciously leaped off my bed and started shouting..."NO WAY! NO WAY!" over and over.

After some time of thought and recollection ( again, even as a 12 year old ) I sensed that this event was just "too" improbable. Too improbable knowing that Oswald was one of the most threatened criminal suspects in our nation's entire 187 year long history.

So threatened, I still can't believe any police force anywhere would allow anyone ( press included ) to get so physically close to Oswald and so often.

From the second of even minimally organized crime associated Jack Ruby whacking Oswald to this day I have felt the JFK event was a conspiratorial action. Especially Ruby's whacking of Oswald.

Shouldn't an ambulance have been at the ready during any transfer of Oswald out of the Dallas Police Department building, considering the real threat just outside with hundreds of onlookers, some shouting to lynch the commie bastard that killed our President? 

And why let the public even know the general time frame of the broad daylight move?

That public announcement was beyond negligence imo. It was so illogical in the process of Oswald's security, it was crazy and shouted conspiracy.

Ruby's improbable access into that DPD basement right at that time ( he had been stalking Oswald since Friday night ) and Oswald's laughable openness to him was the single most important event that triggered my life long belief that their were others involved in both JFK's and Oswald's killings.

And when the Warren Commission simply chose to believe disturbed Jack Ruby over sane, educated, honest and respected journalist Seth Kantor regards Kantor stating he not only ran into Jack Ruby at Parkland hospital as Kennedy was treated there but talked to him as well. I knew that the WC investigation was a dishonest one.

And Kantor's well documented public record book "Who Was Jack Ruby" showed a much more mob connected Ruby than the WC would even consider. As well as Ruby's occasional actions as an FBI informant.

Several of Ruby's phone calls in the last month before 11,22,1963 were to heavy hit man characters in the Chicago and Detroit mobs.

And Ruby's mentor closeness to Louis McWillie (  who was very closely associated to Santos Trafficante in the Cuban Casino business ) shows a stronger tie to big shots in the mob than the WC wanted to hear or acknowledge. Heck, Ruby himself was sent right to the Cuban jail to personally give a message to the big boss himself...Santos Trafficante! 

Much more to Ruby than a dingy strip joint owner who's biggest cursing beefs were with young stripper women who felt underpaid most of the time.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Joe Bauer
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Here are the Connallys in January 1992 on Larry King, with their statements ( start 4min  into the clip), ceushing the SBT implicating more then one shooter and a conspiracy. 

Connally January 1992 on Larry King

An exhumation of Connally would turn to light some remaining bullet fragments in his left thigh. There are no missing bullet fragment on CE 399 (which is presented to the world having caused Kennedys head, neck and all of Conallys injuries.)

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Does anyone know if John Connally ever commented on whether the limo had slowed down or stopped in Dealey Plaza?

I wish that Michael Danzig had asked him that question while driving Connally to the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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On 6/15/2021 at 4:12 AM, Benjamin Cole said:

Joe B- Jack Ruby did get in DPD building somehow, on the other hand he was familiar with the premises. 

Ruby refused to say how he got into the DPD, which does suggest collusion, but is not proof. 

Ben, I suggest you read Ruby's trial transcripts to get a clear understanding on how he got into the DPD's basement

https://markshawbooks.com/assets/images/Jack-Ruby-Trial-Transcript-Excerpts-Exposed-2.pdf

Edited by Calvin Ye
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34 minutes ago, Benjamin Cole said:

Calvin Ye--

Great stuff...but how did Ruby get into the DPD on the day of the transfer?

And yes, I subscribe to the idea that Ruby stalked LHO, and was hired on to do it. 

The trial transcript suggests that Ruby get into the DPD on the  day of the transfer by posing as a reporter

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