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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did Dorothy Kilgallen Have any Special Knowledge about the JFK Assassination?

Updated: Mar 10

She also held two private interviews with Ruby and published his Warren Commission testimony before it was officially released, infuriating the FBI.
According to Shaw, the person who passed along that information was Kentucky Senator John Sherman Cooper, a member of the Warren Commission, who, along with Georgia Senator Richard Russell, was never comfortable with the Oswald-did-it-alone narrative.
(Shaw’s information came from Cooper’s former aide, Morris Wolff, whom JFK Facts interviewed in December 2023.)
Kilgallen was reportedly saving the details of her private discussions with Ruby for her book. She said she had information that would “bust the whole thing open,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

Did Kilgallen have, or even claim to have, information that would "bust the whole thing open"?

Morley's Substack article sources that claim to the Dallas Morning News. But that 2013 article attributes that quote to "published sources." The News also quoted from Covert Action Magazine, and their article includes many dubious sources, such as:

Watergate Burglar and undercover CIA operative Frank Sturgis, who told Marita Lorenz, Fidel Castro’s lover and a fellow CIA agent, that “Kilgallen got whacked” because of her intention to publish a book which included information from her exclusive interviews with Jack Ruby.
When they met {Mark Lane and Dorothy Kilgallen], he found himself charmed and moved by her. He had fought a long and lonely fight. And here was a woman of some power and goodly access to the public weal who shared both his passion and his persuasion. Dorothy told Mark that she hoped to "break the case." He reminded her that there would be formidable obstacles placed in her way, and possibly some personal danger. "That doesn't concern me," Dorothy replied. "They've killed the President, the government is not prepared to tell us the truth, and I'm going to do everything in my power to find out what really happened."

So, she told Lane that she hoped to "break the case." That is a little different from having broken the case. Israel's source for the above is Mark Lane.

And, if you check Kilgallen's columns you will find lots of factoids and conspiracy nonsense that she got from Lane.

For instance, there is this story about a supposed meeting in the Carousel, Jack Ruby's nightclub with Bernard Weissman, J. D. Tippit, and Jack Ruby.

Boston Record American, September 4, 1964

Kilgallen got this from Lane's testimony before the Warren Commission -- he had given her a transcript. But it was all nonsense -- Weissman had never been in Ruby's club and was angry that Lane had never approached him for an interview. You can read the whole story in my book; I was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak. (see excerpt below)

Here is another Kilgallen story from September 26, 1964

As you can see from this "exclusive" article, Kilgallen received from Mark Lane a transcript of an interview between amateur researcher Shirley Martin and Acquila Clemmons. Other topics in this article are Helen Markham and the supposed Mauser found in the TSBD. All of this material came from Mark Lane.

So, what about Jack Ruby?

The first meeting between Kilgallen and Ruby occurred in the courtroom during his trial.

During a recess, Kilgallen was asked to visit the defense table by one of Ruby's lawyers, Joe Tonahill: (pages 366 - 367 in Lee Israel's book, Kilgallen)

Dorothy and Jack Ruby shook hands at the defense table. She tried to cheer him up by complimenting him on his composure. He said that he would welcome the chance to go to a hospital, get well, and perhaps do something "worthwhile." It occurred to her that anything Ruby might choose to do would be a step up from his former life in Dallas.
Dorothy asked him whether he was prepared to face the questions about his sexuality, which would undoubtedly be raised at the trial. He replied that he was expecting the issue to be broached. He was, after all, a bachelor who referred to his pet dachshund as his wife. After a couple of minutes, Dorothy returned him to his lawyers.

There was also supposedly a private meeting between the two that lasted eight minutes: (pages 368 - 369)

Dorothy was standing by the room [a small office off the courtroom behind Judge Brown's bench] during a noon recess. Ruby appeared with Tonahill. The three entered the room and closed the door. The defendant and Dorothy stood facing each other, spoke of their mutual friend, and indicated they wanted to be left alone. Tonahill withdrew. They were together privately for about eight minutes in what may have been the only safe house Ruby had occupied since his arrest.
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 interview.

But what could Ruby have told Kilgallen? He wasn't part of a conspiracy to kill JFK, and his killing of Oswald was an impulsive act.

And if Ruby had really told Kilgallen something of tremendous importance, why did she never publish anything regarding the interview? Newspapers would have plastered her story on page one and she would have won a Pulitzer Prize. Book deals would have been flooding in.

And Kilgallen had lots of time to tell any secrets. She died in November 1965, and so she had over a year and half to tell anything she supposedly learnt from Ruby.

Instead, Kilgallen continued conferring with Mark Lane: (page 402)

She spoke to Mark Lane for the last time in late summer or early fall. She said she planned a trip to Dallas. "I expect I'm going to learn a lot this time," she said. He was about to leave the country, and promised that he would telephone on his return.
They discussed, at some point, another perception, jointly held. The Life magazine that she carried with her, featuring the inculpatory picture of Oswald with a Carcano in one hand and socialist literature in the other, was said to have been taken by Marina Oswald in their backyard in Texas, on March 31, 1963. It was purportedly confiscated by the police when they went foraging for Oswald's belongings. Oswald exclaimed, upon seeing the photo, that the picture had been doctored, that it was not his body and that he would prove it in time.

Kilgallen's last JFK story ran on September 6, 1965:

Boston Record American, September 6, 1965

I have no comments on the death of Kilgallen. I doubt the investigation will be reopened, and even if it was, there is no evidence of any relationship between her death and her short interview with Jack Ruby.

I wish Jefferson Morley's Substack would not always play up conspiratorial angles.

In the early morning hours of November 8, 1965, just four hours after doing the live broadcast of "What's My Line?" and not long after she had left her next-day's column under the door of her apartment, Dorothy Kilgallen died under circumstances that remain puzzling to this day. The official expalantion of complications from barbituates and alcohol remains dubious to some people because they felt that Kilgallen was largely over her addictions by 1965, especially since she had recently begun a happy affair with a gentleman Israel describes as "The Out-Of-Towner". The tape of the "What's My Line?" broadcast however, clearly shows her slurring her speech at various points (not "crisply perfect" as Israel falsely claims). None of this affected her game-playing abilities, which were always superior to any other member of the panel, but it is clear that she was not in the best of health that particular night. In 1978, HSCA counsel Robert Blakey asked for a review of Kilgallen's autopsy (a copy of which is in the JFK Assassination files in the National Archives), but he and his staff evidently found nothing worth pursuing since no mention of Kilgallen ever made it into the final report.
Someone might be able to prove someday that there was more to Dorothy Kilgallen's death than met the eye that night. But if someone succeeds in doing that, he will still not be able to show that it could have had any remote connection with the JFK assassination. If one encompasses everything she knew at the time of her death, it is clear that she did not have a clue as to what the truth really was. Her entire investigation had consisted of shoddy detective work on her part, coupled with false and misleading information from a dishonest gentleman named Mark Lane. Had she been able to tell the world everything she knew on the night of her death, they would have been given another sneak preview of some of the stories Mark Lane would trumpet in his book (i) Rush To Judgment (i), as well as a possible preview of some of Jim Garrison's outlandish assertions that culminated in his witchhunt against Clay Shaw. In both instances, Kilgallen had been nothing more than a courier, not an investigator.

Excerpt from I was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak on the alleged 'secret tryst' in Ruby's club: (pages 59+)

The 26 volumes also contained some really strange witness reports and the critics uncritically accepted them. Take, for example, the story of Carroll Jarnagin, published by the Warren Commission as Commission Exhibit 2821 in volume 26 of the Evidence and Hearings. Penn Jones took material from this exhibit and published it in his Midlothian Mirror newspaper which was then re-published in Ramparts and in his book.

Jarnagin was a Dallas lawyer with a healthy imagination. In December, 1963, he sent a letter to the FBI stating that he had overheard a discussion at Jack Ruby’s nightclub, the Carousel Club, on October 4, 1963. He was accompanied there by a stripper with the stage name of Robin Hood. He overheard a man with the name of H.L. Lee talking to Jack Ruby about killing Governor John Connally. After the assassination, he recognized H.L. Lee as Lee Harvey Oswald. With his photographic memory, Jarnagin furnished a complete transcript of the conversation.

Man who had been sitting alone: I’m using the name of H.L. Lee.

Ruby: What do you want?

Lee: I need some money.

Ruby: Money?

Lee: I just got in from New Orleans. I need a place to stay, and a job.


Ruby: You’ll get the money after the job is done.

Lee: How about half now, and half after the job is done.


Ruby: How do I know that you can do the job?

Lee: It’s simple. I’m a Marine sharpshooter.

Ruby: Are you sure that you can do the job without hitting anybody but the Governor?

Lee: I’m sure. I’ve got the equipment ready.

Ruby: Have you tested it? Will you need to practice any?

Lee: Don’t worry about that. I don’t need any practice; when will the Governor be here?

Ruby; Oh, he’ll be here plenty of times during campaigns.

Lee: Where can I do the job?

Ruby: From the roof of some building.

The transcript goes on for several pages. The FBI interviewed Jarnagin and their report is included in CE2821. He told them he first became aware that Oswald was part of the conversation on November 24 but he failed to report it until early December. He “had considered the possibility that his mind was playing a trick on him and that he imagined the conversation, but he stated that he had reached the conclusion that this was not true.” He then told the agents that he had an alcoholism problem and that, on the night in question, he was drunk. He was also undergoing a divorce from his wife. Even so, “he still believes he could recall the events that occurred.”

Jarnagin claimed that right after the conversation he had telephoned the Texas Department of Public Safety. FBI agents contacted them and they said they had never received such a call. In addition, Jarnagin’s companion, Shirley Mauldin (aka Robin Hood) “overheard no conversation in the Carousel Club between Ruby and anyone, and she could recall no discussion regarding the shooting of the Governor of Texas.”

The Dallas District Attorney’s office administered a lie detector test and Jarnagin failed miserably. Dallas reporter Hugh Aynesworth recounts in his book, Witness to History, that one of his friends in December, 1963, had talked to Jarnagin. “He’s told us other stories. One about LBJ we would have loved to believe, another about John Tower. The guy gets around, especially in his own mind.”

Not surprisingly, Carroll Jarnagin was not mentioned in the Warren Report. Penn Jones left out of his report the fact that he was drunk at the time of the conversation and that his companion could not substantiate anything. Jarnagin told Jones that “he once made 100 on a college chemistry examination with many chemical formulas as answers. He said, “I made 100 on the test and I think I could recite the chemical formulas to you right now.”

Jones wanted a “thorough investigation of the Jarnagin statement.” Yet, had he read the Warren Report, he would have learned that Lee Harvey Oswald was on a bus on October 3 returning from Mexico City. He spent the night at the YMCA and on October 4 hitchhiked to the Paine residence where he spent the night. He could not have been in the Carousel Club that evening.

Mark Lane fell for a very similar story. Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Thayer Waldo told him that Bernard Weissman (author of an ad in the Dallas Morning News on the morning of November 22, 1963, denouncing Kennedy), police officer J.D. Tippit, and Jack Ruby met in the Carousel Club on November 14, 1963. Lane told the Warren Commission about this incident on March 4, 1964, but refused to name his source for the story. Lane wrote in his book, Rush to Judgment, that Thayer’s informant “was a frequent visitor to Ruby’s club—not because of the strip show but because of his involvement with one of the dancers.” That sure sounds like Jarnagin.

When Weissman heard Lane make the allegation on a radio call-in show, he called in to confront him. “I know what you are trying to do. I think you are hunting for headlines. But you had been talking to some liar in Dallas who has been feeding you all this baloney about me. You are making all these allegations at the Town Hall and now on radio. And you have never taken the trouble to contact me. My name has been in the paper. It is very well known where I live. I am in the phone book. You could have at least tried to contact me.” Lane replied that, yes, he should have called him and that he would “recheck his facts” in Dallas.

Weissman called Lane several days later at his office and Lane made him an offer. He said “he would arrange for a public meeting, he would pay my transportation to Dallas to see this guy (Lane’s source) as soon as he could arrange a meeting. And I have not heard from him since.” All this didn’t stop Lane from repeating the allegations in an entire chapter in his book. He did not mention Weissman’s denials nor their discussions.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on Jefferson Morley

An underwhelming interview of Marina Oswald.

Morley often repeats stories and changes their meanings.

Chad Nagle claims there was an assassination plot against JFK in Chicago in November 1963. One problem: There is no evidence of such a plot.

A response to Morley's Substack post alleging that I am a CIA apologist.

Morley thinks there are two redacted memos on CIA reorganization, but there is only one.

A rebuttal to Morley's response to my post Was Bill Harvey in Dallas in November of 1963?

There is no credible evidence Harvey was in Dallas in November of 1963.

Morley repeats the claim that Dulles was at a CIA training center during the weekend of the JFK assassination. He wasn't.

Morley's claims about Efron are all wrong.

Morley responded to my article "The Truth about Operation Northwoods." Here is my reply.

W. Tracy Parnell is one of the best JFK assassination researchers out there. Here is his look at Jefferson Morley with several important articles.

Operation Northwoods can only understood as being part of the Kennedys' war against Cuba and Operation Mongoose.

And a response from me.

There is no evidence that Dr. West petitioned the court to examine Jack Ruby before his trial.

There is absolutely no evidence that Dr. Louis Jolyon West interfered with Jack Ruby's case.

The phrase 'who shot John' does not refer to the JFK assassination.

Jefferson Morley used a fake Oswald handbill in his press conference for the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

An examination of redactions in the JFK collection of documents.


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