Dorothy Kilgallen was a well-respected journalist for decades and someone who had (among other things) an interest in (a) the UFO subject; and (b) the JFK assassination of November 22, 1963 in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. There was a period when I spent about three weeks looking into Kilgallen’s life and career, all of which was fascinating. Her marriage, in 1940, to a Broadway producer named Richard Kollmar was hardly what could be termed a gratifying one – in any sense of the word. They were poles apart: emotionally, and, as Kilgallen came to realize, sexually, too. The pair divorced. Kollmar remarried in 1967 to a fashion-designer, Anne Fogarty. Kilgallen, as a result, took on a wealth of lovers. Kollmar died in January 1971 at the age of sixty. Writer Mark Shaw said of Kilgallen: “Called by famed attorney F. Lee Bailey ‘A very bright and very good reporter of criminal cases, the best there was,’ ‘One of the greatest women writers in the world,’ by Ernest Hemingway, and by the New York Post, ‘The most powerful female voice in America,’ Dorothy Kilgallen was a What’s My Line? a television star, a radio personality, celebrated journalist, revered investigative reporter and author.” There was also the important issue of Kilgallen and the Feds. I took steps to get a hold of the FBI’s declassified surveillance file on Kilgallen. The large document was filled with gossip and secrets, as I expected it to be.
The lengthy file on Dorothy Kilgallen (Nick Redfern)
I read the FBI’s file on Kilgallen from front to end, which, I can tell you, was no easy task. It was a combination of copies of Kilgallen’s newspaper articles and FBI memoranda. The file dated back to the 1930s and was packed with entertaining material. It was also packed with government secrets that Kilgallen had an impressive knack of getting hold of from insider sources. For example, an FBI document of March 27, 1945 quotes Kilgallen as saying that “…Marshal Tito, the Yugoslav leader, has agents in this country who beat and terrorize Yugoslav who disagree with his policies.” On July 18, 1950 the FBI one of J. Edgar Hoover’s Special-Agents wrote that, “…in the Journal American on May 12th had contained information indicating that an Israeli Intelligence official had been traveling in the United States incognito.” This was a far cry from mere Hollywood gossip. No wonder Hoover had a file created on someone who seemed to know everything of a secret and scandalous nature. Let’s see what else Kilgallen was probing into in the years before her death.
In the pages of his 2016 book on the career and death of Kilgallen – The Reporter Who Knew Too Much – Mark Shaw demonstrated that Kilgallen’s primary love was for journalism – of the investigative type, of the celebrity kind and, at times, of the hazardous type. She was gutsy, driven, ambitious, and very well connected. Kilgallen definitely had foes of the kind that few would want, including the Mob. Frank Sinatra despised her. And she had little regard for the Mob-pal, either. Add to that Kilgallen’s persistent efforts to uncover the truth behind the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the fatal shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, and the subsequent arrest and trial of Ruby, and what you have is a potentially explosive brew. Kilgallen had enemies elsewhere, too. The CIA was hardly overjoyed when she became the first journalist to reveal that the Agency was working with the Mafia – chiefly, plots to get rid of Fidel Castro. She also covered the notorious “Profumo Affair” that rocked the U.K. establishment (and entertained the public) in the summer of 1963, when the worlds of prostitutes and government officials blended into one.
Dallas’ Grassy Knoll, where JFK was whacked in 1963 (Nick Redfern)
For Kilgallen, it was when she started to dig into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – at Dallas’ Grassy Knoll – that things began to get dicey for her. She was particularly interested in the connections between JFK’s alleged murderer, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Dallas strip-club-owner, Jack Ruby; a man who knew all the influential, powerful, and murderous characters – including the Mob – who called Dallas their home. When Oswald was shot and killed by Ruby on November 24, 1963, Kilgallen really sat up, suspecting that Oswald had been killed to prevent him from revealing what he knew of the complexities surrounding the president’s death. Things got even more intriguing when Kilgallen got her hands on an advance copy of the controversy-filled “Warren Report“ that investigated the death of JFK. How she got a hold of that is still a much-debated issue for those who haven’t given up on the matter of who was behind the president’s killing. Kilgallen even managed to secure an interview with Ruby, himself. Kilgallen was no fool: she knew that, by that time, her life was in a fair degree of danger. The threats became more and more. Then, on November 8, 1965, Kilgallen was found stone cold dead in bed. Murder? Booze? Something else? The legend, and the mystery, of Dorothy Kilgallen live on.