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C5 Documentary: JFK’s Women – The Scandals Revealed


John Simkin
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Last night C5 showed a documentary entitled JFK’s Women – The Scandals Revealed. The programme was produced, directed and written by Harvey Lilley. It included interviews with Cartha DeLoach, Bobby Baker, G. Robert Blakey, Gus Russo, Tony Summers and Stephen Dorrill.

The film ignored JFK’s relationships with Florence Pritchett and Mary Pinchot Meyer. It started off with looking at his affair with Inga Arvad during the Second World War. Apparently, Arvad was a Nazi spy.

Then it went onto look at his relationship with Judith Campbell. It was claimed that the relationship began in early 1960 and was a Mafia set-up.

It was followed by a look at the Marilyn Monroe. It was claimed that she was under surveillance by the FBI because of her “leftist” views. It was claimed that she was possibly passing on nuclear secrets to the Soviets. Summers told the story of how Monroe went to Mexico in February 1962 to meet with a communist named Frederick Field. Summers, Russo and Blakey all argued that JFK probably did not order her murder but that died at a convenient time. Blakey added that JFK “emotionally” murdered her. In other words, that he was the reason that she was psychologically disturbed at the time.

Then they looked at the women provided by Bobby Baker for JFK. This included Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang, two women who had also been named as part of the spy ring that had trapped John Profumo, the British war minister. Baker spoke at length about this case, but he was never asked about who had paid him to entrap JFK. In fact, LBJ was not mentioned in the film.

Stephen Dorrill explained how JFK got Novotny and Chang chucked out of the US. Novotny then told her story, on tape, to Peter Earl of the News of the World.

Guy Richards, the editor of New York Journal American, put two of his journalists, James D. Horan and Dom Frasca on the case. (It is interesting to note that Dorothy Kilgallen of the same journal was the first person to write an article linking JFK to Monroe). They interviewed Earl and heard his tapes. However, when the article was eventually published, JFK was not named.

Baker argued that Bill Thompson asked him if he would arrange a meeting between Ellen Rometsch and JFK. Baker said that: "He (Kennedy) sent back word it was the best time he ever had in his life. That was not the only time. She saw him on other occasions. It went on for a while."

In July 1963 FBI agents questioned Romesch about her past. They came to the conclusion that she was probably a Soviet spy. Hoover actually leaked information to the journalist, Courtney Evans, that Romesch worked for Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany. When Robert Kennedy was told about this information, he ordered her to be deported.

JFK told Hoover that he "personally interested in having this story killed". Hoover refused and leaked the information to Clark Mollenhoff. On 26th October he wrote an article in The Des Moines Register claiming that the FBI had "established that the beautiful brunette had been attending parties with congressional leaders and some prominent New Frontiersmen from the executive branch of Government... The possibility that her activity might be connected with espionage was of some concern, because of the high rank of her male companions". Mollenhoff claimed that John Williams "had obtained an account" of Rometsch's activity and planned to pass this information to the Senate Rules Committee, the body investigating Baker.

The following day Robert Kennedy sent La Verne Duffy to West Germany to meet Romesch. It was claimed that Romesch was offering her story to German newspapers. In exchange for a great deal of money she agreed to sign a statement formally "denying intimacies with important people." Kennedy now contacted Hoover and asked him to persuade the Senate leadership that the Senate Rules Committee investigation of this story was "contrary to the national interest". He also warned on 28th October that other leading members of Congress would be drawn into this scandal and so was "contrary to the interests of Congress, too".

J. Edgar Hoover had a meeting with Mike Mansfield, the Democratic leader of the Senate and Everett Dirksen, the Republican counterpart. What was said at this meeting has never been released. However, as a result of the meeting that took place in Mansfield's home the Senate Rules Committee decided not to look into the Rometsch scandal.

According to Summers, Russo and Blakey, the Republicans had this story and would have used it to prevent JFK from being elected in 1964. They even speculated that he would have been impeached before the election. They added that the assassination of JFK therefore saved his political reputation. In other words, JFK enemies had no motive for killing him.

None of the participants were asked any real questions about the links between these events and the Bobby Baker scandal. JFK was clearly being blackmailed into calling off the Senate investigation into LBJ, Baker and the Quorum Club. However, JFK was not willing to do that. He knew that so many Senate members were involved in this scandal, that everyone was scared to bring Baker to justice. It was because JFK refused to succumb to blackmail that it was decided to kill him.

The two most important things to come out of the documentary were the interviews with Blakey and Baker. It had nothing to do with what they actually said. What it did reveal was that Blakey is far happier talking about JFK’s love affairs than his botched investigation of his assassination.

Baker is still an articulate speaker. It would have been great to have had the opportunity to ask him some searching questions about his activities in 1963.

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Last night C5 showed a documentary entitled JFK’s Women – The Scandals Revealed. The programme was produced, directed and written by Harvey Lilley. It included interviews with Cartha DeLoach, Bobby Baker, G. Robert Blakey, Gus Russo, Tony Summers and Stephen Dorrill.

The film ignored JFK’s relationships with Florence Pritchett and Mary Pinchot Meyer. It started off with looking at his affair with Inga Arvad during the Second World War. Apparently, Arvad was a Nazi spy.

Then it went onto look at his relationship with Judith Campbell. It was claimed that the relationship began in early 1960 and was a Mafia set-up.

It was followed by a look at the Marilyn Monroe. It was claimed that she was under surveillance by the FBI because of her “leftist” views. It was claimed that she was possibly passing on nuclear secrets to the Soviets. Summers told the story of how Monroe went to Mexico in February 1962 to meet with a communist named Frederick Field. Summers, Russo and Blakey all argued that JFK probably did not order her murder but that died at a convenient time. Blakey added that JFK “emotionally” murdered her. In other words, that he was the reason that she was psychologically disturbed at the time.

Then they looked at the women provided by Bobby Baker for JFK. This included Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang, two women who had also been named as part of the spy ring that had trapped John Profumo, the British war minister. Baker spoke at length about this case, but he was never asked about who had paid him to entrap JFK. In fact, LBJ was not mentioned in the film.

Stephen Dorrill explained how JFK got Novotny and Chang chucked out of the US. Novotny then told her story, on tape, to Peter Earl of the News of the World.

Guy Richards, the editor of New York Journal American, put two of his journalists, James D. Horan and Dom Frasca on the case. (It is interesting to note that Dorothy Kilgallen of the same journal was the first person to write an article linking JFK to Monroe). They interviewed Earl and heard his tapes. However, when the article was eventually published, JFK was not named.

Baker argued that Bill Thompson asked him if he would arrange a meeting between Ellen Rometsch and JFK. Baker said that: "He (Kennedy) sent back word it was the best time he ever had in his life. That was not the only time. She saw him on other occasions. It went on for a while."

In July 1963 FBI agents questioned Romesch about her past. They came to the conclusion that she was probably a Soviet spy. Hoover actually leaked information to the journalist, Courtney Evans, that Romesch worked for Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany. When Robert Kennedy was told about this information, he ordered her to be deported.

JFK told Hoover that he "personally interested in having this story killed". Hoover refused and leaked the information to Clark Mollenhoff. On 26th October he wrote an article in The Des Moines Register claiming that the FBI had "established that the beautiful brunette had been attending parties with congressional leaders and some prominent New Frontiersmen from the executive branch of Government... The possibility that her activity might be connected with espionage was of some concern, because of the high rank of her male companions". Mollenhoff claimed that John Williams "had obtained an account" of Rometsch's activity and planned to pass this information to the Senate Rules Committee, the body investigating Baker.

The following day Robert Kennedy sent La Verne Duffy to West Germany to meet Romesch. It was claimed that Romesch was offering her story to German newspapers. In exchange for a great deal of money she agreed to sign a statement formally "denying intimacies with important people." Kennedy now contacted Hoover and asked him to persuade the Senate leadership that the Senate Rules Committee investigation of this story was "contrary to the national interest". He also warned on 28th October that other leading members of Congress would be drawn into this scandal and so was "contrary to the interests of Congress, too".

J. Edgar Hoover had a meeting with Mike Mansfield, the Democratic leader of the Senate and Everett Dirksen, the Republican counterpart. What was said at this meeting has never been released. However, as a result of the meeting that took place in Mansfield's home the Senate Rules Committee decided not to look into the Rometsch scandal.

According to Summers, Russo and Blakey, the Republicans had this story and would have used it to prevent JFK from being elected in 1964. They even speculated that he would have been impeached before the election. They added that the assassination of JFK therefore saved his political reputation. In other words, JFK enemies had no motive for killing him.

None of the participants were asked any real questions about the links between these events and the Bobby Baker scandal. JFK was clearly being blackmailed into calling off the Senate investigation into LBJ, Baker and the Quorum Club. However, JFK was not willing to do that. He knew that so many Senate members were involved in this scandal, that everyone was scared to bring Baker to justice. It was because JFK refused to succumb to blackmail that it was decided to kill him.

The two most important things to come out of the documentary were the interviews with Blakey and Baker. It had nothing to do with what they actually said. What it did reveal was that Blakey is far happier talking about JFK’s love affairs than his botched investigation of his assassination.

Baker is still an articulate speaker. It would have been great to have had the opportunity to ask him some searching questions about his activities in 1963.

Dorothy Kilgallen didn't name John Kennedy as Marilyn Monroe's lover. Her column of August 3, 1962 hinted at Bobby without naming anyone.

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Dorothy Kilgallen didn't name John Kennedy as Marilyn Monroe's lover. Her column of August 3, 1962 hinted at Bobby without naming anyone.

It is true that Dorothy Kilgallen did say later that she was talking about Robert Kennedy rather than his brother. The problem was that a lot of people who read the article assumed she was writing about JFK. Here is the actual passage that appeared in the New York Journal American (3rd August, 1962):

Marilyn Monroe's health must be improving. She's been attending select Hollywood parties and has become the talk of the town again. In California, they're circulating a photograph of her that certainly isn't as bare as he famous calendar, but is very interesting... And she's cooking in the sex-appeal department, too; she's proved vastly alluring to a handsome gentleman who is a bigger name than Joe DiMaggio in his heyday. So don't write off Marilyn as finished.

The following day, Monroe was found dead. Rumours soon began circulating that Robert Kennedy had arranged Monroe's death to protect his brother's reputation.

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Dorothy Kilgallen didn't name John Kennedy as Marilyn Monroe's lover. Her column of August 3, 1962 hinted at Bobby without naming anyone.

It is true that Dorothy Kilgallen did say later that she was talking about Robert Kennedy rather than his brother. The problem was that a lot of people who read the article assumed she was writing about JFK.

You don't know that. The column appeared only in the New York Journal American, not any of her other outlets. The syndication of her column caused a delay that varied from two days (the Washington Post) to almost two weeks (the Dallas Times Herald). Some papers, such as the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and the Baltimore (Maryland) News Post ran the Voice of Broadway just twice a week, not every day like the others. At any rate, when news of Marilyn's death breaks on Sunday morning, no newspaper editor in his right mind will put in his Monday editions a claim by a journalist -- even one who is a thousand miles away -- that Marilyn is alive.

So you're talking about New Yorkers who read the Voice of Broadway on a Friday afternoon in the middle of the summer. Tracking down any of them for memories would be tough.

Is Anne Hamilton your only source on Kilgallen saying later that it was Bobby ? What Anne the bookkeeper actually said to Lee Israel refers to a column that appeared in the Journal American five days later: August 8. Dorothy supposedly said Bobby was "the Man In Her Life" who called her while she was dying from a self-inflicted barbiturate overdose. He "got the terrible picture and realized there was nothing he could do without getting mixed up in it." (Bad publicity for him?)

Here is the actual passage that appeared in the New York Journal American (3rd August, 1962):

Marilyn Monroe's health must be improving. She's been attending select Hollywood parties and has become the talk of the town again. In California, they're circulating a photograph of her that certainly isn't as bare as he famous calendar, but is very interesting... And she's cooking in the sex-appeal department, too; she's proved vastly alluring to a handsome gentleman who is a bigger name than Joe DiMaggio in his heyday. So don't write off Marilyn as finished.

Your only source is Lee Israel. You haven't checked the microfilm of the Journal American. After "but is very interesting ..." comes "Marilyn's dress looks as though it were plastered to her skin."

The following day, Monroe was found dead. Rumours soon began circulating that Robert Kennedy had arranged Monroe's death to protect his brother's reputation.

Maybe they circulated in the U. K., but rumors in the States were very limited. People who lived in Washington, DC in 1962 tell me they never heard them. The biggest circulation of such rumors would have been in Los Angeles and New York, where Marilyn had homes and where she had trysts with both brothers. Alright then, why did so many celebrities based in those cities say publicly that Marilyn had died alone from her own demons and nothing else ?

Ayn Rand said as much in the Los Angeles Times. Do you know who Ayn Rand was ? A movie magazine quoted Jayne Mansfield as saying, "They probably expect me to do that someday [overdose], but if they knew me they would know it couldn't happen." Hedda Hopper also ignored all political angles and murder theories, and Hedda wrote a lot about this tragic event. Clare Booth Luce wrote and published a huge Life magazine cover story on Marilyn for the two-year anniversary of her death saying a lot about a bruised ego and pills but nothing about politicians or murder. I forget if Ms. Luce was pro-Kennedy or anti-Kennedy.

Getting back to Dorothy Kilgallen, her August 8 piece depicted a long troubled woman whose "life was a suicide note, but nobody would believe the message. So perhaps it's important for [her friends] to have a note in her own handwriting that they wouldn't believe, either." Then the devoted half of her August 16 column to intelligent questions that hinted at a cover-up. Actually, she said her readers asked all the questions by mail. One was, "Why did the first doctor [Ralph Greenson] have to call the second doctor [Hyman Engelberg] before calling the police ? Any doctor, even a psychiatrist, knows a dead person when he sees one, especially when there are marks of lividity on the face and body."

All this is in microfilmed Journal American issues waiting to be reprinted in "education forum." They are not just in New York libraries but also in Austin, Texas and the Library of Congress.

Aside from a few other lukewarm comments in mid August 1962, Dorothy Kilgallen dropped the "Marilyn mystery" for good. Two years later -- November of 1964 -- she was doing her regular television panelist job on "Hot Line" when a telephone caller got on the air and started to talk about a Marilyn murder. Producer Joyce Davidson -- today living in Toronto -- cut the man off thanks to the ten - second broadcast delay. Dorothy may have said a word or two in surprise or denial, but she ignored the strange comment from her column. Anthony Quinn was also on the television panel that night. Did he leave behind a diary ? During the year she had left to her Dorothy occasionally reminded people that Marilyn had died from swallowing barbiturates. The last time was her column of November 5, 1965 -- her third - to - last.

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Sorry, I should have said, "Then SHE devoted half of her August 16 column ... "

and I should have said she ignored the strange telephone caller "IN her column."

During the four months Dorothy Kilgallen was a regular on the local New York television talk show "Hot Line" -- with telephone callers participating on each broadcast -- she occasionally repeated in her column remarks made on the show. But she didn't do that when the anonymous New York man tried to advertise a Marilyn murder theory.

Joyce Davidson, now in Toronto, screened the phone calls, and she recalls that this person was male. Oh, and he did something that people who telephone TV shows do today. When she answered the phone and asked what the caller wanted to say on the air, he lied to her. He offered a comment that had nothing to do with Marilyn. Then when he got on the air, he offered a Marilyn murder theory.

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  • 4 years later...

Sorry, I should have said, "Then SHE devoted half of her August 16 column ... "

and I should have said she ignored the strange telephone caller "IN her column."

During the four months Dorothy Kilgallen was a regular on the local New York television talk show "Hot Line" -- with telephone callers participating on each broadcast -- she occasionally repeated in her column remarks made on the show. But she didn't do that when the anonymous New York man tried to advertise a Marilyn murder theory.

Joyce Davidson, now in Toronto, screened the phone calls, and she recalls that this person was male. Oh, and he did something that people who telephone TV shows do today. When she answered the phone and asked what the caller wanted to say on the air, he lied to her. He offered a comment that had nothing to do with Marilyn. Then when he got on the air, he offered a Marilyn murder theory.

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