The Mysterious Death of Investigative Journalist and JFK Witness Dorothy Kilgallen

Mark Shaw’s Denial of Justice

2019

Film Review

This is a presentation by author Mark Shaw regarding his latest book Denial of Justice: Dorothy Kilgallen, Abuse of Power, and the Most Compelling JFK Investigation in History.

I’m old enough to remember watching Kilgallen on the quiz program “What’s My Line” in the 1950s and 1960s. I was unaware she was also a celebrated investigative journalist who had covered every major US trial in the 20th century. Actively investigating the JFK assassination at the time of her death, she openly questioned Oswald’s role as the lone nut gunman in her columns in the New York Journal American. Moreover she had a contract with Random House to write a book based on her investigation.

Kilgallen attended the entirety of Jack Ruby’s trial (for the murder of Oswald) in 1964 and was the only journalist to interview him.

Several months before her death, she carried portions of Ruby’s leaked Warren Commission testimony in her column. A few days later, a posse of FBI agents invaded her home demanding the identity of the leaker. She refused to name her source.

In the months leading up to her 1965 death, she received several threats against her own and her children’s lives. The two hairdressers who were her closest confidants also complained of being followed and having their phones tapped.

One of them found her body, which was fully dressed with full make up sitting up in bed. The New York police dismissed her death as an “alcohol/seconal overdose. ” It would be three years before the blood sample taken at autopsy was tested. It was found to contain three different types of barbiturates (seconal, tuinal and phenobarbital).

 

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