Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Mysterious Death of Dorothy Kilgallen

Dorothy Kilgallen was well-known to Americans in the 50's and early 60's from her weekly Sunday night appearances on the popular What's My Line? game show panel. In this video, her colleagues on the panel say good-bye to her just days after her death on November 8, 1965.

Officially, her death was listed as "undetermined." However, New York City police were on record as saying that she died from an "ingestion of a lethal combination of alchohol and barbituates."

But Dorothy Kilgallen was more than just a panelist on a TV game show. She was also a respected New York journalist who had been investigating the JFK assassination and had written articles questioning the official accounts of the killing of the president.

Shortly before her death, she had interviewed Jack Ruby, the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald and had come back home telling friends that she "had discovered something that was going to break the whole JFK assassination mystery wide open." When she was found dead in her bed, the notes she had made on the JFK case were nowhere to be found.

Her death bore an eerie similarity to Marilyn Monroe's death 3 years earlier, and raised just as many questions. Whether she really did have some earth-shattering new evidence about the assassination, or was just engaging in a journalist's braggadocio, I guess we'll never know. But she was a fascinating figure.

Lee Israel wrote a 1980 book about her mysterious death called Kilgallen.

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