The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen by Mark Shaw

Publication Date: December 6, 2016:

On November 8, 1965, 52-year-old investigative reporter and television personality, Dorothy Kilgallen, is found dead of an apparent overdose in her New York City home. Her files are missing and the air conditioning is running. She has been investing the Kennedy assassination and has told people she is poised to crack it wide open. Was she the reporter who knew too much?

 

 

Before he started investigating the Jack Ruby trial, Mark Shaw remembered Dorothy Kilgallen as a panelist on the syndicated CBS game show, “What’s my Line.” Digging into the records, Kilgallen’s name kept coming up and her interest and dedication to cracking the case sparked Shaw’s interest in the enigmatic and talented reporter and her mysterious death. Research for The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen took Shaw 12 years and justice for Kilgallen has become his calling.

Shaw lays out the facts of the scene for readers so that it takes little persuasion to convince readers that something was off. Kilgallen was found by her hairdresser in a room she didn’t typically sleep in with the air conditioner running on a cold November night in New York. The drink next to the bed was outside of the victims reach and the book next to her was laid in a way one wouldn’t naturally rest a book they were reading. Kilgallen was dressed in a peignoir with full makeup and wig, which was not her habit. Most peculiarly, all of her files related to the Kennedy case were missing and they were known to be copious. The glass next to the bed was found to contain a drug that was also found in the victims system, as Shaw discovered when he finally was able to locate the coroner report. Things clearly don’t line up and the reader can see that from the off which makes the mystery a compelling deep dive for the reader.

Shaw doesn’t limit the possibility to Kilgallen knowing too much, he offers a number of suspects for the reader to explore. Kilgallen was a daring and dedicated investigative reporter who Ernest Hemingway called one of the best female writers in the world. She was also a woman with nuance and Shaw doesn’t shy away from her flaws. Kilgallen was a woman who loved men and prior to her passing the married reporter had an ongoing affair with a reporter from the Midwest who was many years her junior. She had enemies and Frank Sinatra notably loathed her allegedly because she was not shy when it came to talking and writing about his mob connections. Perhaps a most interesting alternative suspect is the reporter’s husband, actor and Broadway Producer, Richard Kollmar. Shaw reached out to the couples children when researching his work and they were understandably reluctant to speak with him.

Shaw has lived Dorothy Kilgallen and the passion for the case shows clearly in The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen. One of the chief criticisms in reviews on Amazon cite the author’s need to edit. Admittedly, Shaw does go on. For him, this work is clearly more than a book and with publication his quest has turned to education of the public for the goal of achieving some sort of closure to the case. Shaw turned over the evidence he’d turned up to the NYPD hoping that they would reopen the case. An officer was assigned and Shaw was hopeful until they abruptly closed the case. Shaw has also been on a quest to bring to light things he feels has been covered up about the Kennedy assassination and that Kilgallen, had she lived long enough, would likely have exposed.

I found The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen absolutely fascinating. I read Kilgallen by Lee Israel many years ago and have always been interested in the reporters life and mysterious death. Shaw’s research is through and his points well presented. He doesn’t claim to know exactly what happens but leaves reasonable doubt for the reader based in fact rather than gossip, and there’s a lot of gossip out there. The case of Kilgallen’s research and death is a case of truth being stranger than fiction. Shaw went to great lengths to interview people who were afraid to talk for many years as well as digging up documents that had long been buried. He tells us what he knows for sure and then leaves it to the reader to decide what they believe.

As a partner to reading The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen, be sure to check out Mark Shaw’s talk about the work at the Allen, Texas Library (click here to view the Youtube video). It’s a lengthy video but well worth the watch. Was Dorothy Kilgallen the reporter who knew too much or did one of her many other adversaries decide it was time to be done?

 

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Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon

Publication Date: October 22, 2009

 

Brooke Astor lived a rich and adventurous life. In Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon, her twilight years should have been comfortable and uneventful. Instead, as Alzheimer descended, the Centenarian was living under the guardianship of her son, Anthony Marshall, and living in squalor. Her worried grandson approached her dear friends, Annette de la Renta and David Rockefeller for advice and what transpired in the aftermath of that meeting was more than any of them could have imagined. 

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The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon

Publication Date: May 27, 2014

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon is a biography. Huguette Clark, born near the beginning of the twentieth century, was the daughter of the nation’s second richest man and grew up in luxury. She was a lively and social philanthropist who relatives one day realized, had become gradually more distant until she virtually disappeared. What happened to this once vibrant personality?

 

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark is an infuriating read. It is a dispassionate account of the life of Huguette Clark, and what happened to her once she went into isolation. The biography was written by the journalist, Meryl Gordon. What is infuriating about the book is the connection that Gordon builds between her subject and the reader and then the revelation that she was basically a tool for gain in her later years outlined in an objective fashion that could not make clearer the motivations of the century-old woman’s carers. Continue reading The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon

A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko

Publication Date: September 6, 2013

A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko A Spy for the Union by Corey Recko is the story of the New York Police Officer turned Pinkerton Detective turned spy for the Union forces, Timothy Webster. As a Pinkerton, he was a member of a team that uncovered a plot in 1861 to kill then President, Abraham Lincoln. As a Union spy he made valuable high-level Confederate connections before betrayal led to his execution. Continue reading A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis

Publication Date: March 17, 2008

 

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis

Better World Books Reading Challenge – A Book that Rewrites History

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis is a retelling of William Antrim’s story based on what is known of his life from cradle to grave and a look at the events that contributed to his outlook on life and interaction with the growing western population.

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The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Publication Date: January 1, 2006

 

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten BoomBetter World Book Challenge 3 – A Childhood Favorite

In The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, the author and her family lived in Haarlem in the Netherlands in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. As Calvinists, they saw it as their duty to help God’s people and set about creating a hiding place in their home for Jewish people that came to them for refuge. The Hiding Place follows their quest to save those they could and their ultimate capture and internment.  Continue reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner

Publication Date: October 24, 2017

 

Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane BrimnerTwelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimnerchronicles the journey of 13 black and white Civil Rights Activists from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. The riders planned a protest of the southern states ignoring two Supreme Court rulings that segregation on buses crossing state lines was unconstitutional. The protest was meant to be peaceful and shine a light on the nonobservance of the rulings in the south. What met them on their journey was violence and hate.    Continue reading Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Release Date: February 2, 2010

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootIn 1951, Tobacco Farmer Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. Before her death, cervical cells were harvested without her consent and became the first human cells to grow in a lab. They would grow an entire generation of new cells in a 24-hour period. Over the years those cells, known as HeLa to scientists, became a hot commodity in the scientific world standing at the forefront of some of the greatest medical breakthroughs, but Henrietta Lacks remained largely unknown. Unknown — until her daughter started looking to find out more about the mother she’d never known. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is her story.    Continue reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

 

The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin ReedThe Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is the nineteenth-century account of his life as a free, black man born in 1823 who spent his life between hard labor, indentured servitude and incarceration at America’s first industrial prison. The recently discovered manuscript written when Reed was still in prison was authenticated by Yale scholar, Caleb Smith and includes letters written by Reed later in his life.    Continue reading The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed

The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

 

The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem RobertsThe Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts is an examination of the influences and impact of the late Douglas Adams on British comedy, his most famous work, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and his legacy.

Continue reading The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts