NEW YORK, NY — Fifty-one years after the death of syndicated newspaper columnist and What’s My Line? TV personality Dorothy Kilgallen, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has opened a new probe into her suspicious demise.
Officially, Dorothy Kilgallen died on November 8, 1965, from “an apparent overdose” of alcohol and sleeping pills in her Manhattan townhouse.
At the time, Kilgallen was a 52-year-old mother of three who had been married for more than 25 years. She had no known history of drug abuse, and she’d just appeared on her enormously popular television program. Kilgallen was also at the red-hot peak of her career.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, whispers have long surrounded the “true” nature of Dorothy Kilgallen’s passing.Now, a new book seems to have initiated the DA’s Office to undertake this fresh investigation: The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen by Mark Shaw.
Shaw’s investigative tome makes a powerful case that someone murdered Kilgallen due to her ongoing pursuit of a story that connected slain President John F. Kennedy with Mafia kingpin Carlos Marcello and “official” JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Attorney Joan Vollero, speaking on behalf of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., confirmed that a staff member has read The Reporter That Knew Too Much, and that the team was investigating previously unexplored leads and evidence provided by author Mark Shaw.
Upon hearing the news, Shaw told The New York Post:
“I’m hopeful DA investigators will probe any records available and interview witnesses still alive today who can shed light on what happened to this remarkable woman… There was no evidence that Kilgallen was a drug abuser. Despite the odd death scene and heavy doses, there was no investigation.”
The Reporter Who Knew Too Much asserts that, two weeks before her death, Kilgallen purchased a gun to protect herself. The book also quotes a new, videotaped interview with celebrity hairdresser Charles Simpson, who said Kilgallen told him: “If the wrong people knew what I know about the JFK assassination, it would cost me my life.”
During her rise to fame, Dorothy Kilgallen had angered the formidable likes of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and notoriously “connected” music superstar Frank Sinatra.
Kilgallen also courted controversy by way of her coverage of the sensational Sam Sheppard murder trial; Dorothy believed the doctor who inspired The Fugitive was innocent, and a second trial later proved he was. Kilgallen also fearlessly defended comedian Lenny Bruce when he faced obscenity charges.
After the killing of JFK, Kilgallen publicly challenged the findings of the Warren Commission and set off to find facts on her own. That quest may have cost Dorothy Kilgallen her life.
Perhaps this new probe will finally solve this mystery — or possibly shine a light on even more unanswered questions in the endlessly tangled annals of what actually went down in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Main photo: Dorothy Kilgallen, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much by Mark Shaw [front cover image detail]