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Back in the mid-’80s a group of gay friends gathered monthly for dinner and sharing at Detroit’s historic venue, the Scarab Club. We called ourselves “The Friends of Dorothy Kilgallen”.
Our campy title was a play on the old closet question, “Are you a friend of Dorothy?” Meaning, Are you gay? A friend of Oz’s Dorothy. The title also referenced once-famous Miss Kilgallen, syndicated journalist, panelist for TV’s 1960s popular “What’s My Line?” guessing game show.
Two years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, Miss Kilgallen announced that she was going to “blow the lid” off who was really behind his murder with details divulged to her. On Nov. 8, 1965, she was found dead from a supposed prescription drug overdose. Her death was curious to say the least.
An expose, “Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation Into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination,” by Richard Belzer and David Wayne, offers startling documentation about Kilgallen’s mysterious death. And! the sudden, untimely deaths of 40 others who “knew a little too much” for their own good — and America’s as well.
“Hit List” is one of many books published on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s 1963 assassination. Two others in my collection are “Who Really Killed Kennedy?” and “They Killed Our President,” the latter by former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.
A consensus is that Lee Harvey Oswald — who claimed he was a “patsy” and was himself killed by Dallas nightclub owner and underworld associate Jack Ruby — was not the lone JFK assassin, if his assassin at all. Implicated by these conspiracy authors are the CIA, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, the drug-dealing mafia cartel, the military-industrial complex, supporters of the Vietnam War and, according to some, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and FBI head J. Edgar Hoover.
Among those who were “off’d” for their knowledge and/or participation was gay cargo pilot David Ferrie. Other gays suspected but never proven by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who believed there was a JFK murder conspiracy, include Clay Shaw and Guy Bannister. They also happened to be friends of Oswald.
I was 27 when Kennedy was assassinated and working at Wayne University. As media news coverage spread, it was as though someone had taken a collective stun gun to America’s pride, traditions and self-esteem. The shock, repeated with each news clip, each grim telecast, was numbing, disabling, unbelievable. We were participants in an unending nightmare, with commentary by CBS Evening News TV anchor Walter Cronkite.
America’s beloved, charismatic and youthful, leader was no more.
“Ask not what your country can do for you,” he said in one of his many inspiring speeches. “Rather, ask what you can do for your country.”
Item for sharing: in 1965 I was sitting at the Woodward Bar next to an Army Sergeant on leave. He spent the night with me. When Larry got out of service, he moved in. Turns out, Larry was an Honor Guard in the Kennedy funeral at Arlington Cemetery. He witnessed the lighting of the Eternal Flame. Fired his rifle in farewell salute.
The flame still burns. Sadly, it also burned through the Bobby Kennedy assassination and that of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, five years after Nov. 22, 1963. Lest we forget in these times of Trump and Pence.