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The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen Hardcover – December 6, 2016
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"The Reporter Who Knew Too Much is a very interesting, informative, and provocative book. Shaw has obviously conducted a tremendous amount of research and investigation into every aspect of Kilgallen’s life. Her relationships with so many famous, controversial individuals and legal cases are fascinating to read." (Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, bestselling author of From Crime Scene to Courtroom)
"The compelling story of Dorothy Kilgallen, the celebrated journalist once called 'the most powerful female voice in America.'" (- Nick Pileggi, author of Wise Guy and Casino)
"Mark Shaw has written a gripping biography of Dorothy Kilgallen wrapped in the greatest cold case of all time, the JFK assassination. This is a real page-turner and I defy anyone to put it down once they have started it." (Greg Desilet, author and Language and Communications Scholar)
“Mark Shaw is the real deal when it comes to investigative journalism – as was Dorothy Kilgallen – one of the most important multi-media icons of the 20th century." (Michael Harrison, Publisher, Talkers Magazine and Host, Up Close and Far Out Podcast)
"Expertly written, Mark Shaw's "The Reporter Who Knew Too Much," is a riveting true-life murder mystery, thoroughly accessible to readers if all backgrounds. Reference notes and an index round out this "must-read" for true crime connoisseurs. Highly recommended!" (Midwest Book Review)
About the Author
A former criminal defense attorney and legal analyst for CNN, ESPN and USA Today for the Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant cases, Mark Shaw is an investigative reporter and the author of 25 books including The Poison Patriarch, Miscarriage of Justice, and Beneath the Mask of Holiness. Mr. Shaw, a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, has written for USA Today, Huffington Post, and the Aspen Daily News. More about Mr. Shaw, who lives in the San Francisco area, may be learned at markshawbooks.com and on Wikipedia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kilgallen was born on July 3, 1913, in Chicago, Illinois. Her dad, James, was a highly-respected reporter for the Hearst newspaper chain. From her earliest days, “she yearned to be a reporter like her father.”
In his book, “The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen,” author Mark Shaw tells her compelling story. He focuses on her work as a first class investigative reporter and more particularly on her highly suspicious death, on November 8, 1965, at her townhouse in Manhattan.
Kilgallen was very fond of President John F. Kennedy (JFK). She boosted him whenever she could in her “Journal-American” column. In 1962, thanks to “JFK’s aide Pierre Salinger,” she and her youngest son, Kerry, then eight years old, visited the White House and met the president. The meeting left a deep impression on Kilgallen.
When JFK was murdered in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, Kilgallen refused to accept the party line put out by the FBI’s Director, J. Edgar Hoover. He insisted that the supposed assassin Harvey Lee Oswald “acted alone.” His agency then took over all the files of the Dallas Police Department. When Oswald was shot and killed, on November 24, 1963, by Jack Ruby, Kilgallen made it her business to attend his trial. Like some Americans of my generation, I watched Ruby shoot and kill Oswald on live television. It was beyond shocking.
Author Shaw details Kilgallen’s extensive journalism background. Her “Voice of Broadway” column, where she also covered Hollywood and politics, was syndicated in close to 200 papers. She attended and wrote about some of the biggest trials of her era: Bruno Hauptmann, Dr. Sam Sheppard, Dr. Bernard Finch, Wayne Lonergan, Anna Antonio and John Profumo.
In addition, Kilgallen was a regular panelist on the popular CBS TV game show, “What’s My Line?” from 1950 until her death. She was known for having a “terrific sense of humor.” The magazine, “Variety,” praised Kilgallen as “The First Lady of Broadway.”
Ernest Hemingway, himself, had labeled Kilgallen as one of the “greatest women writers in the world.” She had become “a media icon” in her own time. Shaw wrote that Kilgallen was a feminist “before the word was coined.”
For a while, Kilgallen also did a popular early morning program, called: “Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick,” with her husband, Richard Kollmar, on WOR Radio, in NYC. He was an actor and producer. They had three children together. An Irish-Catholic, Kilgallen attended weekly Mass.
Investigating JFK’s death became a passion for Kilgallen. She asked a lot of questions. Given that Ruby was the owner of a “strip tease honky tonk,” she asked: How was he allowed to “stroll in and out of police headquarters in Dallas as if it were a health club?” She let Hoover and his cronies know that she was on the job. On November 29, 1963, she filed a column entitled, “Oswald File Must Not Close.”
Not only did Kilgallen cover Ruby’s trial, she got to interview him twice. She started to believe that he, like Oswald, might have been a “patsy.” Kilgallen also made a trip to New Orleans to talk with sources. She was zeroing in on what Mob boss Ruby may have been working for at the time of the hit on the president. She began building an investigatory file on the case that she intended to turn into a book that would be the “scoop of the century.”
The book, sorry to say, never happened. Kilgallen was found dead in her townhouse on the morning of November 8th. The police went along with the Medical Examiner’s report that she most likely died from an “accidental” drug overdose of a prescription sleeping pills mixed with alcohol. There was no investigation of foul play.
Author Shaw rips that scenario apart. He states the death scene was “staged.” The body was found in “the wrong bed” and in “the wrong bedroom.” In addition, Kilgallen’s “makeup, false eyelashes and hairpiece” were still on her. She was found in a blue bathrobe with nothing underneath. According to her hairdresser, she always wore “her favorite pajamas and old socks to bed.”
Kilgallen had a prescription for the sleeping pills, “Seconal.” A second drug, “Tuinal,” however, was also found in her system. She had no prescription for that one. Was she slipped a “mickey?”
On top of all that, Kilgallen’s file on the Ruby case was missing and it has never been found. Author Shaw, I must add, goes off the rails when he tries to show who may have done Kilgallen in. It’s all speculation in my opinion and lacks any probative value. Also, in the book, I found it irritating that he was repetitive in places. Plus, he got Kilgallen’s birthdate wrong.
Shaw also doesn’t show much expertise with respect to the JFK assassination. My Bible on that crime of the century is “Deep Politics and the Death of JFK,” by Peter Dale Scott.
Kilgallen was one of the finest journalists of her generation. Justice demands that the truth finally comes out about how this fearless reporter really died. Mark Shaw’s book is a tribute to her distinguished career and legacy. It is long past the time for the stain on Kilgallen’s memory to be removed.
Dorothy Kilgallen always sought justice as an investigative reporter. It's a shame that the same justice was denied her in her efforts to find the truth. Even though it's slightly over fifty years later perhaps the truth regarding her death and that of President Kennedy will someday be revealed and Dorothy will get the justice she deserves. Author Mark Shaw deserves praise for his attempt to exonerate Ms Kilgallen and show that her death was not due to suicide or an overdose of drugs and alcohol but murder to prevent her from exposing the truth behind the the mob hit of President Kennedy.
This book goes into detail about why Dorothy might have been murdered including that she was found in a robe she wouldn't wear in a bedroom she didn't sleep in. She also had drugs in her system that were like date rape drugs today.
I think a lot of cases got solved too quickly back then and this is clearly one of them. It's a very interesting book but the author goes on too many conspiracy tangents.