What We Talk About When We Talk About Dorothy Kilgallen

DorothyKilgallenLost among the hubbub surrounding the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination is gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen.

What’s that? You don’t know who Kilgallen was? No matter. She was one of the panelists on What’s My Line? She had a legendary feud with her former friend, Frank Sinatra. And she allegedly interviewed Jack Ruby while he was awaiting trial for killing Lee Harvey Oswald.

It seems that Kilgallen wasn’t content with the official version of the assassination. “It’s a mite too simple that a chap kills the President of the United States, escapes from that bother, kills a policeman, eventually is apprehended in a movie theater under circumstances that defy every law of police procedure, and subsequently is murdered under extraordinary circumstances,” she wrote after the release of the Warren Commission report. She also might have told friends that, after her interview with Ruby, she was set to “blow the JFK case sky high.”

Also a loudmouth when it came to, well, anything, Kilgallen had earlier claimed that the CIA hired gangsters to murder Fidel Castro (which actually turned out to be true), reviewed the musical Skyscraper while it was still in previews (calling it a turkey), and reported that UFOs were just a matter of course.

But here’s where things get interesting: Kilgallen was found dead on Nov. 8, 1965, 12 hours after she’d appeared live on What’s My Line?. Her hair stylist found her. The official cause of death was an overdose of barbituates coupled with alcohol. And maybe she had a heart attack in the night? No matter. There was also some funny stuff about her death certificate, signed by a Dr. DiMaio for Dr. Luke. But Dr. DiMaio later claimed he had never signed it, and if he had, it would only be because Dr. Luke wasn’t on the scene. But official records show that Dr. Luke spent 45 minutes at the scene. Except less public official records show that Dr. Luke was there for over an hour.

There’s also the matter of Kilgallen’s two visits to the hospital in spring of 1965, where medical records show only that she was treated for a fractured shoulder. Oh, and when Lee Israel (who’d later find fame as a forger of letters from famous people) began research for her biography of Kilgallen, Kilgallen’s secretary Myrtle Verne, abruptly died. Oh, and the employees of the Regency Hotel, where Kilgallen was last seen alive, were told not to speak to Israel. And Kilgallen’s husband told a friend asking about Kilgallen’s views on the Kenneday assassination, “That will have to go to the grave with me.”

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One thought on “What We Talk About When We Talk About Dorothy Kilgallen

  1. When you say, “But official records show that Dr. Luke spent 45 minutes at the scene,” you apparently are referring to Dorothy Kilgallen’s obituary article in The Washington Post. I found it at the library in the microfilm for Tuesday, November 9, 1965. The Post was a morning newspaper. That meant the Monday edition couldn’t have reported her death. Monday afternoon papers reported it.

    Anyway, that Tuesday edition of The Washington Post has a long obituary in the City Life section that says medical examiner James Luke spent 45 minutes at the death scene. Dr. Dominick Di Maio’s name is never mentioned in newspaper obituaries about Kilgallen. If anyone wants to see her death certificate with his signature on it, seek and ye shall find. It should be available publicly. Dr. Di Maio’s son Vincent testified at the 2013 trial of George Zimmerman. YouTube has video of his testimony that you find by searching “vincent di maio zimmerman.”

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