Saturday, November 8, 2008


November 8, 1965:
Dorothy Kilgallen, American newspaper columnist, dies. (b. 1913)

Courtesy of Wikipedia, the facts are these:

Dorothy Mae Kilgallen (July 3, 1913—November 8, 1965) was an American journalist and television game show panelist known nationally for her coverage of the Sam Sheppard trial, her syndicated newspaper column, "The Voice of Broadway", and her role as panelist on the television game show 'What's My Line?'.

On November 8, 1965, Kilgallen was found dead on the third floor of her five-story townhouse, just 12 hours after she appeared, live, on 'What's My Line?'. Her hairdresser, Marc Sinclaire, found her body when he arrived that morning to style her hair. She had apparently succumbed to a fatal combination of alcohol and Seconal, possibly concurrent with a heart attack. It is not known whether it was suicide or an accidental death, although the amount of barbiturate in her system "could well have been accidental," according to medical examiner James Luke.

Because of her open criticism of the Warren Commission and other US government entities, and her association with Jack Ruby and 1964 private interview with him, some speculate that she was murdered by members of the same alleged conspiracy against JFK. Her claims that she was under surveillance led to a theory that some people had a motive for killing her. This is partially based on the fact that throughout her career she consistently refused to identify any of her sources.

Her autopsy did not suggest evidence of homicide; however, her death certificate cites the cause of death as "undetermined".

After her death, [her husband] married designer Anne Fogarty, who had created the dress Kilgallen had worn on 'What's My Line?' the last night of her life.

On the 'What's My Line?' broadcast following Kilgallen's death, host John Charles Daly opened the show explaining that, after consulting with "her good husband Dick Kollmar", the show's tribute to her would be to go on as usual. The text of Daly's announcement, except for the names of those involved, was identical to the announcement he'd made at the beginning of the broadcast the night after regular panelist Fred Allen died. During their usual "goodnights," each panel member gave a short tribute to her. Bennett Cerf and Steve Allen reminded viewers that her "line" was a print reporter while Arlene Francis and Kitty Carlisle focused on the impact Kilgallen had on the television show.

Dorothy Kilgallen was portrayed twice on television. Linda Harcharic played her in the 1992 TV movie "The Kennedy Assassinations" and Marilyn McIntyre assayed the role in "To Prey In Darkness", an episode of 'Dark Skies' in 1996. (Ms. McIntyre is pictured below.)

In "To Prey In Darkness", Kilgallen's death was depicted, and it was neither an accident nor suicide, but murder. However, it had nothing to do with what she may have known about the assassination of President Kennedy. Instead, it was because she had in her possession incriminating film about the invasion by an alien species known as the Hive. (In the real world, Kilgallen did report on UFOs ten years earlier, using British government sources.)

Written by series creator Bryce Zabel (who has an excellent blog for which you can find the link over there to the left), here then is the scene in which Dorothy Kilgallen died:

Seen only in shadows, a man goes through the apartment contents, obviously looking for something. He stops, hears a key in the door.

Kilgallen enters, sees the mess, and starts to back out, only to be roughly pulled inside! It's Steele!

We've been watching you.

Yeah? Take a number...

Steele cocks his head, thinks a beat, then roughly back-hands Kilgallen, sending her to the floor.

Steele pours a full tumbler of vodka, hands it over to Kilgallen.

You look thirsty. Drink up.

I can hold my liquor better than you. I'm not telling you anything.

Steele nods, cocks the hammer on his gun. Kilgallen takes the tumbler to her mouth.

Bottom's up.

She takes it all down in a couple of quick gulps. Steele takes the tumbler from her and pours another full glass. He hands it back to her.

Oh, for cryin' out loud...(beat) I'll have a killer hangover in the morning but you're not gonna have... nothin'.

Kilgallen takes the second tumbler and drains it. Steele waits a beat.

Feeling all right now, Miss Kilgallen?

Go to ... hell ...

I don't actually believe in the concept. Do you?

Do now ...

Her head is obviously starting to spin, her words slurring already.

Where did you put the film?

That's for me ... to know ... and you ... to find ... out ...

And I will.

Yeah, with 'bout ... thirty million... other people.

Really? Do tell.

Don't know ... why they call you ...'Majestic' 'cause you're just ...some cheap ... hood. And that's the way it is.

With that, Kilgallen suddenly falls to the table with a thud. Steele nods to himself, re-holsters his weapon.

In the original script, she earlier passed the film on to Dan Rather, but in the final production, I think it was to a reporter named Ed Hawkins instead. However, the last thing she said, "And that's the way it is" seems like a big give-away as to where the film would end up.....

Toby O'B

[Thanks to Bryce Zabel for 'Dark Skies', such a great addition to Toobworld!]

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