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Lee Israel joins the JFK Forum


John Simkin
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I am pleased to announce that Lee Israel has joined the forum. She is the author of the great book, Kilgallen. Hopefully, she will answer questions on Dorothy Kilgallen. Here are five questions from me.

(1) Was Penn Jones (Volume II: Forgive My Grief - 1967) right to suggest that there was a connection between the deaths of Kilgallen and that of her friend, Mrs. Earl E.T. Smith (Florence Pritchett), who died two days later?

(2) As Florence was the wife of the ambassador to Cuba (1957-59), could she have been the source of Kilgallen's 1959 story suggesting that the CIA and the Mafia were working together in order to get rid of Castro?

(3) Is there any evidence that Dorothy visited Florence just before her death? Did she give her a copy of her manuscript on the JFK assassination?

(4) Was David B. Henschel right in claiming in 1993 that the "Out-of-Towner" in your book was really Ron Pataky of the Columbus Citizen-Journal?

(5) Is there any plans to film your book?

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John, are you certain that Dorothy Kilgallen wrote in 1959 that the CIA and the Mafia were trying to get Castro? I read your excerpt from her July 1959 column (in the "Theories" section of the "Kennedy Assassination") and while it talks about a lot of people trying to get Castro, and mentions the Mafia, it does not seem to link the CIA to any 1959 assassination plots.

According to most of the literature, Col Sheffield Edwards contacted Robert Maheu in August of 1960, knowing Maheu knew some underworld figures, and Maheu recruited Rosselli in a meeting at the Brown Derby Restaurant. Rosselli meet with James O'Connell of the CIA in New York in mid-September of 1960 and in late September Giancana "came on board" the operation in Miami. This account is also consistent with Maheu's memoirs.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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I seem to recall that when they found her body in bed - her clothing was somehow inappropriate - and that she was reading a book which she had already finished - without her reading glasses - which she needed.  Or, something like that...

Marc Sinclaire was Kilgallen's personal hairdresser. He often woke Kilgallen in the morning. Kilgallen was usually out to the early hours of the morning and like her husband always slept late. When he found her body he immediately concluded she had been murdered.

(1) Kilgallen was not sleeping in her normal bedroom. Instead she was in the master bedroom, a room she had not occupied for several years.

(2) Kilgallen was wearing false eyelashes. According to Sinclaire she always took her eyelashes off before she went to bed.

(3) She was found sitting up with the book, The Honey Badger, by Robert Ruark, on her lap. Sinclaire claims that she had finished reading the book several weeks earlier (she had discussed the book with Sinclaire at the time).

(4) Kilgallen had poor eyesight and could only read with the aid of glasses. Her glasses were not found in the bedroom where she died.

(5) Kilgallen was found wearing a bolero-type blouse over a nightgown. Sinclaire claimed that this was the kind of thing "she would never wear to go to bed".

For a more detailed account of this see my online seminar here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=2358

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John, are you certain that Dorothy Kilgallen wrote in 1959 that the CIA and the Mafia were trying to get Castro?  I read your excerpt from her July 1959 column (in the "Theories" section of the "Kennedy Assassination") and while it talks about a lot of people trying to get Castro, and mentions the Mafia, it does not seem to link the CIA to any 1959 assassination plots.

According to most of the literature, Col Sheffield Edwards contacted Robert Maheu in August of 1960, knowing Maheu knew some underworld figures, and Maheu recruited Rosselli in a meeting at the Brown Derby Restaurant.  Rosselli meet with James O'Connell of the CIA in New York in mid-September of 1960 and in late September Giancana "came on board" the operation in Miami.  This account is also consistent with Maheu's memoirs.

Dorothy Kilgallen's article appeared in the New York Journal American on 15th July, 1959.

If our state department heads in Washington deny they're gravely worried over the explosive situation in Cuba and nearby Latin American countries, they're either giving out false information for reasons of their own or playing ostrich, which might prove to be a dangerous game. US intelligence is virtually nonexistent if the government isn't aware that Russia already has bases in Cuba, and Russian pilots in uniform are strutting openly in Havana... Fidel Castro is the target for so many assassins they're apt to fall over each other in their efforts to get him. The Mafia want to knock him off. So do the Batista sympathizers, of course, and then there are his own disillusioned rebels, just for starters. He has machine guns and other ammunition mounted on every key rooftop near his base of operations, but the smart money doubts if any amount of precaution can change his status as a clay pigeon.

Kilgallen of course does not state that the CIA were working with the Mafia on the assassination of Fidel Castro. Nor could she. This was not her style. Kilgallen always allowed for the reader to fill in the gaps. For example, she was the first person to report that JFK was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe (3rd August, 1962). Not that she actually mentioned JFK by name. However, her readers were able to work out what she was saying.

Lee Israel claims in her book Kilgallen that it was assumed that she was being leaked information from the CIA during the early part of Fidel Castro’s period in power. Considering that she was a gossip columnist she did seem to write a lot about the subject. These stories were very anti-Castro (Kilgallen held right-wing political views – although she was liberal on civil rights).

Kilgallen also knew JFK. I suspect she met him via her friend, Florence Smith, the wife of the ambassador of Cuba (1957-59) and long time JFK mistress (1944-1963). It is possible that this information came via Earl Smith who believed that the CIA was too liberal in its attitude towards Castro.

Kilgallen was an extremely well-informed journalist. In the 1950s it was estimated that she had twenty million readers. Kilgallen achieved this position by developing a very good strategy for gaining secret information about famous people. Kilgallen was swamped with requests by press agents to plug the activities of their clients. 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. Some of these stories were political and had nothing to do with the entertainment world.

Kilgallen also had contacts within the Dallas Police Department and the Warren Commission. She was also the only one who managed to get an interview with Jack Ruby.

Anyway, I am sure Lee Israel will be able to tell us all more about this.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkilgallen.htm

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  • 5 weeks later...
I seem to recall that when they found her body in bed - her clothing was somehow inappropriate - and that she was reading a book which she had already finished - without her reading glasses - which she needed.  Or, something like that...

Marc Sinclaire was Kilgallen's personal hairdresser. He often woke Kilgallen in the morning. Kilgallen was usually out to the early hours of the morning and like her husband always slept late. When he found her body he immediately concluded she had been murdered.

Have you considered getting this from the horse's mouth ?

Marc Sinclaire was profiled by the Tampa (Florida) Tribune in 1991. The article included a huge color photograph of him. It referred briefly to his discovery of Kilgallen's body, but it said nothing about the cause of death. Marc lives in Tampa -- ask him !

:cheers

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Greetings:

Starting to gather some heavy-weights around here I would say. :cheers

Welcome Lee and I will most certainly look forward to what you have to offer

up.

First of many questions:

Have there been any new developments since the publishing of your book?

With Best Regards and Respect:

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Greetings:

Starting to gather some heavy-weights around here I would say. B)

Welcome Lee and I will most certainly look forward to what you have to offer

up.

First of many questions:

Have there been any new developments since the publishing of your book?

;)

She never got anything out of Marc Sinclaire. I'll repeat what I said yesterday. Sinclaire lives in Tampa, Florida. The Tampa Tribune newspaper profiled him in 1991. It mentioned that he discovered Kilgallen's body, but it said nothing about murder.

The focus of the article was Sinclaire's career doing the hair of many glamorous New Yorkers in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. One was Helen Gurley Brown. The Tribune's focus was not on Kilgallen or JFK.

Sinclaire was there when Kilgallen lay dead in her house. Lee Israel wasn't. Does anyone here live in Tampa ? Maybe they could contact him. Lots of people from the American Midwest visit Tampa.

The person who said Kilgallen habitually slept late like her husband was wrong. Shortly before she left her house for the last time she made an appointment with Sinclaire for 9:00 the following morning. She had to be at her son's school at 10:30 to meet with teachers because he had gotten into trouble. To be fair to him, it was one of those Catholic schools where the Jesuit laymen could have been doing all sorts of things.

Marc Sinclaire doesn't know a whole lot about Catholic schools. (He was raised in Palm Beach when it was mostly Protestant in the 1930s and 40s.) But he knows a lot about Kilgallen.

:D

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