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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 24

Re: Kilgallen's Death At 52 Is A Mystery

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 09:41:07 -0500
Archived: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 07:05:03 -0400
Subject: Re: Kilgallen's Death At 52 Is A Mystery

>From: ufo-updates-bounces.nul
>To: - UFO UpDates Subscribers -
>Date: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 5:06 AM
>Subject: UFO UpDate: Kilgallen's Death At 52 Is A Mystery


>Sun, Oct. 21, 200

>Kilgallen's Death At 52 Is A Mystery

Ah, yes, the "mysterious" death of Dorothy Kilgallen - yet
another of the undying legends of our time. Did she die because
she was about to blow the lid on the JFK assassination, or was
it crashed saucers? Or was it a top-secret mac-and-cheese
recipe? I forget. Oh, yeah:

Last evening, by coincidence (or was it something more
sinister?), I was reading Vincent Bugliosi's account of the
claim, in his richly documented Reclaiming History: The
Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007), pp. 1014-17
(not a typo; it's a huge book which the author spent more than
two decades researching). Here is what Bugliosi, former Los
Angeles County District Attorney and experienced homicide
prosecutor, has to say on the matter:


Perhaps the most prominent mysterious death the conspiracy
theorists have cited is that of 52-year-old New York Journal-
American newspaper gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who died
in her New York City townhouse in the early morning hours of
November 8, 1965. The reason for her prominence in conspiracy
lore is that according to the theorists, she had interviewed
Jack Ruby [murderer of Lee Oswald] alone in the judge's chambers
during his trial and was about to break the case wide open; that
is, assuming she had a story to tell, she had not yet told

It should be pointed out that the only source for all the
factual allegations surrounding Miss Kilgallen's death (other
than her actually dying, of course) is [small-town newspaper
editor and lurid conspiracy writer] Penn Jones Jr., the original
and leading proponent of the mysterious-deaths allegation. Jones
writes in his Forgive My Grief series that "shortly before her
death, Miss Kilgallen told a friend in New York that she was
going to New Orleans n five days and break the case wide open."

Therefore, Jones says, Miss Kilgallen had to be silenced. But
Jones gives no source for his allegation.

It should be noted that even if Kilgallen had interviewed Ruby
(more on this later), for him to tell her anything that would
break the case wide open presupposes that Ruby had anything to
say. But since there's no evidence whatsoever that the mob or
anyone else got Ruby to kill Oswald for them (in fact, being who
he was, he would be among the very last people to employ for
such a mission) [Bugliosi devotes considerable space elsewhere
in the book to documenting this assertion, I think to the full
satisfaction of any reasonable, open-minded reader], other than
his psychotic ramblings ("Chief [Justice] Warren, your life is
in danger in this city, do you know that"; "The Jewish people
are being exterminated at this moment ... a whole new form of
government is going to take over our country"; etc.), what
valid, earth-shaking thing could Ruby possibly have told
Kilgallen? And even if he did have something to say, if he
didn't want to tell it to the Warren Commission, or to any of
his brothers and sisters whom he spoke to while in custody, why
would he want to tell it to Miss Kilgallen, a gossip columnist?

Bill Alexander, the Dallas assistant district attorney who was
the lead trial prosecutor at the Ruby trial, told me that the
story that Kilgallen had a private interview with Ruby during
the trial was "pure bull--. The sheriff's office never let any
of the reporters talk to Ruby."

When I asked Hugh Aynesworth, veteran investigative reporter for
the Dallas Morning News and Newsweek magazine who was nominated
for a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his coverage of the Kennedy
assassination, Warren Commission, and Ruby trial, what he knew
about Kilgallen's supposed interview with Ruby, he said, "I know
it didn't happen, and there was never any belief by the press
corps in Dallas that it did."

I asked Aynesworth whether Kilgallen herself had ever claimed to
anyone or in any of her articles to having had a private
interview with Ruby. "No," he said, "never, not in any of her
articles on the case, all of which I believe I've read, or to
any of us who covered the trial. This allegation surfaced for
the first time after Dorothy's death when her New York
hairdresser supposedly told [gossip columnist] Walter Winchell
that Dorothy had told her she spoke to Ruby and was going to
blow the case wide open." Aynesworth, being a local reporter,
knew the judge ("We were drinking buddies"), the DA, and the
sheriff, and said if anyone had been allowed to speak with Ruby
alone, it would have been he (he was the first member of the
media to be granted an exclusive interview with Marina [Oswald,
Lee's widow]), but he added that no one in the media was allowed
to speak with Ruby. "I and everyone else was turned down. The
best we could do was shout questions to Ruby when he was being
brought to the courtroom from the lockup." When Sheriff Bill
Decker (now deceased), whose office had custody of Ruby, heard
of Kilgallen's alleged claim to her hairdresser that she had
spoken alone to Ruby, Aynesworth said Decker told him, "Hugh, it
didn't happen. These New York folks just make up stories."
Aynesworth said that the late district attorney Henry Wade also
told him it didn't happen. Aynesworth said the only person
outside of Ruby's family and close friends who did get into
Ruby's cell was a Los Angeles film producer who "somehow snuck
in with Earl" (Ruby's brother) and provided the audio equipment
for Earl questioning Ruby for a documentary.

Aynesworth said if the authorities had ever granted any reporter
an interview with Ruby, "like flies on a horse-dropping, they
would have had to let all the rest of us in the media talk to
him. It didn't happen," he reiterated.

However, in her biography of Kilgallen, author Lee Israel says
that Ruby's co-defense counsel, Joe Tonahill, wrote her on
January 12, 1978, that sometime in March of 1964, Kilgallen
requested a private interview with Ruby. She told Tonahill she
had a message to give to Ruby from "a mutual friend," who
Tonahill was led to believe was a singer from San Francisco.
Tonahill made arrangements with Judge Joe B. Brown, who Israel
writes was "awestruck by Dorothy," for the interview to take
place in a small office behind the judge's bench. Kilgallen and
Ruby spoke alone for about eight minutes. Israel wrote that
"Dorothy would mention the fact of the interview to close
friends, but never the substance. Not once, in her prolific
published writings, did she so much as refer to the private

In any event, Jones's story about Kilgallen having a story about
the case from her interview with Ruby that would blow it wide
open is wholly uncorroborated and very suspect. To make the tale
even more malodorous, there wasn't anything suspicious or
mysterious about Miss Kilgallen's death. Dr. James L. Luke, the
Manhattan assistant medical examiner who conducted the autopsy,
concluded in his report on November 15, 1965, that the cause of
death was from "acute ethanol [medical term for alcohol] and
barbiturate intoxication." The quantity of alcohol and
barbiturates in her bloodstream had not been excessive, but the
combination had caused a fatal "depression on the central
nervous system, which in turn caused her heart to stop." There
was no indication of violence, but it was "undetermined" whether
the overdose was accidental or suicide. Dr. Luke told the New
York Times that "it could have simply been an extra pill. We
really don't know. All we know is that depressants such as
alcohol and barbiturates, one on top of another, are dangerous."
About Kilgallen's legendary drinking, Aynesworth said, "Dorothy
was a very heavy drinker. I remember one night at one of Belli's
[Mel Belli, Ruby's main defense lawyer] parties, she joked to
me, 'Hugh, you may have to write my story tomorrow.'" Bill
Alexander told me, "Whatever Dorothy Kilgallen said, she said
through the bottom of a bottle of booze."

At the time Miss Kilgallen died on November 8, 1965, her
husband, Richard, and twelve-year-old son, Kerry, were asleep in
other rooms in the townhouse. When you are alleging murder, as
Penn Jones was in his book, this is a rather important detail,
one that Jones didn't bother, naturally, to include. Did the
conspirators somehow gain entry into Miss Kilgallen's townhouse
and bedroom in the middle of the night and force alcohol and
barbiturates down her throat without her making any noise that
would alert her husband and son? Kilgallen's body was found by
the maid, a copy of Robert Ruark's Honey Badger by her side. So
there was absolutely nothing suspicious and no evidence of foul
play. Or are we expected to believe that Miss Kilgallen was
murdered by the conspirators who killed the president, but that
these conspirators "reached" the Manhattan police and medical
examiner and threatened them not to write her death up as

Finally, assuming that Kilgallen did have a private interview
with Ruby, it took place at the Ruby trial in Dallas during
March of 1964. But wait awhile, folks. Didn't Miss Kilgallen die
in November 1965, one year and eight months later? You mean to
tell me a gossip columnist, or any columnist, would wait twenty
months to break a sensational story? They wouldn't even wait
twenty minutes, would they? Wouldn't they report it immediately
so they wouldn't be "scooped" by some other reporter? Yet her
biographer confirmed what Hugh Aynesworth said, that Kilgallen
never wrote any article about her alleged interview with Ruby.

There is a footnote to all of this. Mrs. Earl E. T. Smith was a
New York City society figure who wrote a Sunday column in the
Living Section of the Journal-American under her maiden name,
Florence Pritchett. When she died of a cerebral hemorrhage (Penn
Jones tells his readers that the cause of death was "unknown")
at her Fifth Avenue home just two days after Miss Kilgallen, it
simply was too much of a coincidence for Penn Jones, who
ominously linked the two deaths to the Kennedy assassination
cover-up. Jones said the two were "close friends" ("Possibly,"
he speculates, "Mrs. Smith was the trusted friend" to whom
Kilgallen allegedly said she was going to break the case wide
open; Penn doesn't mention, or didn't know about, the
hairdresser story), but again offers not one scrap of evidence
to support this assertion of friendship. Other than their
working at the same paper (Kilgallen, full-time, Mrs. Smith,
probably mailing her column in once a week) and most likely at
least being acquaintances, they certainly moved in different
worlds. The tart-tongued and aggressive Miss Kilgallen,
described by a colleague as a "newspaperman in a $500 dress,"
worked in the rough-and-tumble field of investigative
journalism, almost exclusively male at the time. Mrs. Smith, a
member of the Four Hundred in New York, was very active in the
arts and in charity work and mingled with the swells from the
Social Register. Per her obituary in the New York Times, she and
her husband (the American ambassador to Cuba just before Castro
took power) were close friends to President Kennedy and his
wife, were frequent White House guests, and were Palm Beach,
Florida, neighbors. In the absence of any evidence presented by
Jones that they were "close friends," the assumption (even if
they had lived in the same apartment and worked everyday for the
same company) has to be they were not. And in Lee Israel's 485-
page biography of Kilgallen, there isn't even a single reference
to her. Indeed, she writes that Kilgallen had very few female
friends, her closest being Jean Bach and Lillian Boscovity. But
even if they were friends, so what?

Jones, naturally, doesn't bother to tell his readers that Mrs.
Smith, per the New York Times, "had been in ill-health since
mid-August" (almost three months before Miss Kilgallen's death)
and "had recently been discharged from Roosevelt Hospital." It
should finally be noted that even [the now-defunct left-leaning,
conspiracy-championing] Ramparts magazine, which so effusively
endorsed Penn Jones's powerful imagination, could not swallow
his claim that Kilgallen was silenced, conceding that "we know
of no serious person who really believes that the death of
Dorothy Kilgallen was related to the Kennedy assassination."


Jerry Clark

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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