by R. D. Morningstar –
Dorothy Kilgallen, the daughter of James Kilgallen, a colorful and popular newspaperman, followed her father into the newspaper business and earned her reputation as a crime reporter (a novelty for women then) that led her to participate in an around-the-world race. Although she came in second, her fame (as the only woman in the race) and her subsequent book about the race, “Girl around the World,” established her as a presence in the newspaper world (the book was the basis of the movie Fly Away Baby (1937)). She became a powerful and influential Broadway columnist, and with husband Richard Kollmar hosted a long-running morning radio chat show, “Breakfast with Dick and Dorothy.” Her private life was less successful, however, and included a disastrous affair with singer Johnnie Ray and problems with substance abuse, mainly alcohol. Nevertheless, all of America came to know and admire her through the TV quiz show “What’s My Line?” (1950). She took the game more seriously than her more lighthearted colleagues did, however, and it always bothered her that she was never as popular with the show’s viewers as her fellow panelists were.
Kilgallen wasn’t just a “gossip” columnist, however; her reporting about accused wife-killer Samuel Sheppard (his case was the basis for the TV series “The Fugitive” in 1963) was crucial in securing a new trial for him.
Then s a vocal critic of the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and she secured an exclusive interview with Jack Ruby, the killer of alleged presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Kilgallen claimed to have important new information on the murder of JFK, but her discoveries, if any, will never be known – she later died under mysterious circumstances that were believed to have been suicide by a few, an accidental overdose according to some, and murder by many, and very soon after her announcement of notebooks that were in her possession containing the evidential information she was about to publish regarding her findings into Kennedy and Ruby had disappeared; never to be seen again.
One of the early victims of the JFK conspiracy of silence, better yet ‘silencing’ in the aftermath of JFK’S murder, was none other than the noted reporter, columnist and television celebrity, Dorothy Kilgallen.