You probably remember Dorothy Kilgallen from the show What's my Line?. No, it's not an early version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?. This show was a long-running panel game show where celebrities would ask a contestant questions so they could guess his or her line of work.
The night before she was murdered, Kilgallen appeared on the show and correctly guessed the occupation of a mystery guess. It's these keen investigative skills that most likely got her killed.
What She Knew
Dorothy Kilgallen was an investigative reporter, who had been working for 18 months on gathering information on the JFK assassination.
"I'm going to break the real story and have the biggest scoop of the century," she told her lawyer.
Kilgallen and Kennedy were close friends, so when he died she took it very personally.
"The American people have just lost a beloved president," she wrote in her column. "It's a dark chapter in our history, but we have the right to read every word of it."
Kilgallen was killed just two weeks before a meeting with a secret informant, referring to the gathering as "very cloak and daggerish." The journalist always believed that theories of Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone were "laughable." She kept digging, pissing off then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover when she obtained and published the testimony of Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald at Dallas police headquarters. Kilgallen never released her source, saying "I'd rather die than reveal the source."
"If the wrong people knew what I know about the JFK assassination, it would cost me my life," Kilgallen said to a close friend.
Little did she know, she was right.
The day after correctly guessing a contestant's occupation on What's My Line? Kilgallen was found murdered in her Manhattan town house. Her body was found sitting up in a bed, naked under a blue bathrobe, with the makeup, false eyelashes and a floral hair accessory she had worn on TV still on.
Chief medical examiner, James Luke, declared Kilgallen's cause of death an accidental overdose of sleeping pills and booze.
"The amount of barbiturates was more than enough to kill her," Dr. Michael Baden confirmed. Cops ruled out suicide and found "nothing suspicious about the death. There was no suggestion that this was a homicide."
Kilgallen's legacy was tarnished, as her death marked her as a drug abuser and alcoholic.
"Dorothy Kilgallen was a beloved mother and talented writer who died too soon," said a recent "In Memoriam" notice. "As we mark the 50th anniversary of her passing, there are still many fans and friends who miss her and still wonder about her death."
They're not the only ones, either.
Lawyer and author Mark Shaw says there's more to Kilgallen's death than just an overdose. In his new book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Shaw dives into the whodunnit mystery and makes an interesting argument: Kilgallen was mudered by the New Orleans Mafia.
"Murder is murder whether it happened five days or 50 years ago," Shaw says. "Victims have rights, and Dorothy was denied hers because there was no investigation."
According to Shaw, he believes someone was upset that Kilgallen knew so much about the JFK assassination, and that she would lead everyone to the real killer. He contends that the killer knew about Kilgallen's tell-all book, so a hit was ordered by New Orleans Mafia don Carlos Marcello. Shaw says Marcello believed Kilgallen's book would accuse him of being the mastermind behind the JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald assassinations.
"The killers won, because she was eliminated and erased from any historical record about the JFK assassination," Shaw says. Her JFK book was never published, and the dossier she compiled of evidence, interviews, and notes, disappeared after her death.
"Whoever decided to silence Dorothy, I believe, took that file and burned it," Shaw says.
Shaw believes there were many moving parts to the cover-up of Kilgallen's death. The journalist died in Manhattan, but her body was brought to Brooklyn for the autopsy. This move was unprecedented move that was never given an explanation. The Brooklyn office was tightly controlled by the mob, which Shaw says was intentional.
"They deliberately sent Kilgallen's body to Brooklyn as part of the cover-up," Shaw says.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Shaw was able to obtain an FBI file on Dorothy Kilgallen, which revealed she was under surveillance. Because of Hoover's great displeasure for the journalist, Shaw found this extremely suspicious.
As of 2017, the Manhattan District Attorney's office opened a new investigation into Kilgallen's death, trying to see if they can find any connections to JFK's death.
"Now I'm trying to be Dorothy "” and be her voice," Shaw said. "Hopefully, that voice will be heard, an investigation will be done, and the truth will be told."
White House Intern Reveals Her Steamy Affair With JFK
When historian Robert Dallek stumbled onto the name "Mimi Beardsley" in a set of declassified documents, he had no idea what kind of explosive secret he had just unearthed.
Beardsley (now Alford) was a 19-year-old student from the prestigious Wheaton College when she applied for a summer internship in the White House press office. She had only been on the job for four days when she caught then-President John F. Kennedy's eye.
Kennedy was a notorious womanizer, and their were even rumors that he cheated on his wife Jacqueline with the movie star Marilyn Monroe, but details of his ongoing affair with Mimi Alford stayed secret for almost 50 years.
After historians finally uncovered it, she broke her silence in a tell-all memoir: Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.
In the book, Alford describes her first meeting with Kennedy. She was invited to attend a pool party with a pair of her female colleagues by a White House staffer. They had no idea what was up until the President arrived at the pool, asked "Mind if I join you?" and came back minutes later in a swimsuit.
"He was remarkably fit "” flat stomach, toned arms "” for a forty-five year old man," Alford remembers. Later that day the president invited her for another special meeting, upstairs in the White House's private apartments.
And there's where their love affair began...
Alford remembers that the president took her on a guided tour of the White House's upper level, ending in the iconic powder blue bedroom designed by his wife Jackie Kennedy.
"This is a very private room," the president told Alford.
"The next thing I knew he was standing in front of me, his face inches away," Alford wrote. "He placed both hands on my shoulders and guided me toward the edge of the bed." Alford actually lost her virginity to Kennedy, and they kept the affair going for another year.
Looking back on their relationship, Alford says she doesn't feel guilty about sleeping with a married man, but "I feel guilty about not having felt guilty about Mrs. Kennedy." As the affair continued, Alford was eventually cheating on her own fiance.
"I think he did take advantage "” I was so young," she told People magazine, "But I liked feeling special. I know there are some difficult parts to that book. And they were difficult for me to write ... The fact is, I was vulnerable, and the president was a very powerful man."
Alford was schduled to be with President Kennedy on the day of his assassination, but visited her parents and her fiance instead. She confessed the details of the affair to her fiance later that night, and they stayed together for over 20 years.
"If I was 19," she admits, "I would do it again"”it's hard to say I wouldn't."
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[H/T: People Magazine]