Dorothy Kilgallen; Reporter Cloaked in Controversy
Dorothy Kilgallen was best known for her column “The Voice of Broadway” in The New York Evening Journal, which was published in over 140 papers, and for her role as game show panelist on the 1950’s television program, “What’s My Line?” She was hailed by The Post as being, “the most powerful female voice in America.”
Kilgallen spent a vast majority of her career cloaked in controversy, most notably surrounding her investigative work into the John F. Kennedy assassination.
As a Longtime skeptic of the Warren Commission, a study conducted by the United States government into who killed JFK as well as who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK’s supposed assassin, Kilgallen dove deep into the controversy. Some may even argue too deep.
Kilgallen was under the suspicion that Oswald did not commit his crimes alone and published several articles reflecting this belief.
Jack Ruby, who allegedly killed Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963, was only interviewed by one reporter throughout trial, Dorothy Kilgallen.
Since her interview with Ruby, many noted that Kilgallen carried a file with her at all times; it remained under lock and key when not physically in her hands, according to those close to her.
Kilgallen’s file continued to grow throughout the investigation. In a conversation with her lawyer, Jim Garrison, prior to a trip to New Orleans, which Dorothy later inexplicably canceled, he remembers her saying, “I’m going to break the real story and have the biggest scoop of the century.”
Kilgallen’s trip to New Orleans was planned two weeks prior to her death, when her husband Richard Kollmar found her with “files missing, by her hairdresser in a bedroom she never slept in, dressed in clothes she would never wear to bed, reading a book she had finished and disliked, wearing glasses she didn’t need for reading.”
In an initial autopsy report, a Brooklyn medical office, as opposed to the office in Manhattan where she lived, found her cause of death to be a lethal combination of alcohol and barbiturates.
That report was later amended to note that the barbiturate originally found– Seconal, a sleeping pill for which she had been prescribed– was, in fact, a combination of Tuinal and Nembutal, which she did not have access to.
Although her death was eventually ruled a suicide, Kilgallen’s husband noted that when she returned from a taping of “What’s My Line” earlier that evening, she appeared “chipper.”
A researcher by the name of Mark Shaw who investigated Kilgallen’s death found that she was under surveillance by the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act.
Friends of Kilgallen recall her expressing fear for her own life leading up to her death, and she supposedly even purchased a gun– a rather uncharacteristic thing for her to do.
When questioned by her lawyer as to why she chose to cancel her trip to New Orleans prior to her death, Kilgallen cryptically responded, “If the wrong people knew what I know about the JFK assassination, it would cost me my life.”
In the recent release of the JFK files on October 26, 2017, a file entitled “DOROTHY KILGALLEN” by Richard Nixon was released but it’s contents remain sealed due to reasons of national security.