Edit

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (19)

Overview (5)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in New York, USA
Birth NameDorothy Mae Kilgallen
Nickname Dolly Mae
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Dorothy Kilgallen was the daughter of James Kilgallen, a colorful and popular newspaperman with the Hearst Corporation. She followed her father into the newspaper business and made her early reputation as a crime reporter (a novelty for women in those days) and for her participation in an around-the-world race using transportation that was available at the time (1936) to ordinary people, not aviators. Kilgallen finished second out of the three newspaper reporters who participated in the race. Her fame (she was the only woman) and her subsequent book about the race, "Girl Around the World," established her as a presence in the journalism profession. The book became the basis of the movie Fly Away Baby (1937).

In 1938, Kilgallen become a powerful and influential Broadway columnist. Starting in 1945, Kilgallen and husband Richard Kollmar hosted a long-running early morning radio talk show called "Breakfast With Dorothy and Dick." Although the couple had two children who sometimes joined them talking on the radio, Dorothy and Dick "lived an early version of an open marriage," according to a biographer. Their arrangement allowed both to carry on affairs as long as they did so outside of the expensive five-story neo-Georgian brownstone on Manhattan's East 68th Street that they both loved to decorate and furnish.

Millions of Americans came to know and admire Kilgallen through the TV quiz show What's My Line? (1950). She took the game more seriously than her more lighthearted colleagues did. It allegedly bothered her that she was never as popular with the show's viewers as were her fellow panelists, especially Arlene Francis. NBC News B-roll footage of Kilgallen's February 1964 visit to Dallas, Texas shows, however, that she was delighted when autograph seekers gathered around her. Game show viewers (Kilgallen was seen playing other games besides What's My Line?) seemed to have strong feelings about her. Either they loved her and rooted for her or hated her and enjoyed watching another participant outsmart her.

Kilgallen's relationship with singer Johnnie Ray started out as fun and secretive but later became disastrous when she competed with Ray's male lovers for his attention. Eventually, Kilgallen and Ray drank heavily together in public, a problem that may or may not have affected her performance on What's My Line? and her functioning with a typewriter. Kilgallen's newspaper work consisted of much more than her "gossipy" syndicated Broadway column. Her knowledge of the judge's misconduct during the 1954 murder trial of Samuel Sheppard (his case was the basis for the TV series The Fugitive (1963)) helped F. Lee Bailey secure a new trial for Sheppard. Upon Sheppard's release from the penitentiary that was then located in Columbus, Ohio in July 1964, Bailey helped arrange for a "late-night champagne party" in Cleveland, according to a book the lawyer published in 1971. Kilgallen, who was among the guests, had her first conversation with the wrongly convicted Sheppard.

Several months earlier, Kilgallen had visited Dallas, Texas to cover the murder trial of Jack Ruby. She secured two exclusive interviews with the defendant, who was being tried for the murder of alleged John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. One of Ruby's lawyers, Joe Tonahill, said years later that in the courtroom Kilgallen and Ruby made eye contact with each other in a way that suggested they may have met before his arrest. Tonahill and other lawyers including Melvin Belli were busy trying to save Ruby from the electric chair and had no time to investigate that. Kilgallen's first conversation with Ruby after his arrest occurred while he sat at the defense table during a recess. It resulted in the headline "Nervous Ruby Feels Breaking Point Near" in the New York Journal-American. (The newspaper was owned by the Hearst Corporation.) She never published anything from or even acknowledged (to her readers) her second conversation with Ruby. It occurred inside a small office behind the judge's bench out of earshot of the deputy sheriffs who were guarding Ruby and out of earshot of his lawyers and everyone else in the courthouse. It lasted approximately eight minutes, according to Joe Tonahill.

Possibly as a result of what Kilgallen learned from Ruby, she became a vocal critic of the Warren Commission investigation of the president's assassination. She allegedly told friends and her lawyer, but not her newspaper readers, that she soon was going to reveal important new information on the murder of JFK. Although Kilgallen's reactions to the Warren Commission report remain accessible, her theory about who shot the president will never be known. She died under mysterious circumstances (suicide or an accidental overdose according to some, murder according to others) soon after the advance notice she allegedly had given her friends and lawyer.

The notebooks containing the information Kilgallen was about to publish disappeared. They were never seen again. Some felt that assassination researchers should have questioned Ron Pataky, an obscure newspaper critic based in Columbus, Ohio whom she befriended a few months after her encounters with Jack Ruby. The Columbus newspaper sometimes mentioned Pataky's travels to New York City, and in June 1964 Kilgallen's column had them riding together in a London taxicab. A month after her death, widower Richard Kollmar refused to cooperate with conspiracy theorist Mark Lane when Lane tried to find her notes. Ten years later other loved ones, including her journalist father who was by then in his late eighties and still working for the Hearst Corporation, refused to discuss her career or the assassination with a biographer.

As the 50th anniversary of her death approaches, only recently did a researcher discover at Syracuse University a long audio recording of Richard Kollmar's 1967 appearance on a locally broadcast New York City radio show that was hosted by John Nebel, better known as "Long John Nebel." Kollmar was promoting the book Murder One that was credited to his late wife. It sold well enough in 1967 to warrant more than one printing and was reissued in paperback. Nebel, who had been a fan of the breakfast radio show that "Dorothy and Dick" had done, and who had known Kilgallen, encouraged Kollmar to discuss publicly many aspects of his late wife's life and career, including the Sheppard murder case.

Throughout the long radio broadcast, you notice that Johnnie Ray, Ron Pataky and events surrounding the assassination are off limits. Kollmar never gets near any of those topics. Neither does Nebel or the other two people who are heard talking with them on the 1967 aircheck. (The book Murder One omitted a chapter on the Jack Ruby murder trial that Ruby's lawyer Joe Tonahill said years later that Kilgallen had planned to include.) Long John Nebel and his guests do discuss Kilgallen's feud with Frank Sinatra, but they avoid the detail that Sinatra had drawn the public's attention to Kilgallen's chin that had prevented her from being photogenic.

Kilgallen's only relative who ever talked publicly about any mysteries surrounding her was her youngest child who had been eleven-and-a-half years old when she died. At age 21, he told the biographer that his family was keeping him, too, in the dark about what had happened ten years earlier.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: BPEACE98@AOL.COM

Spouse (1)

Richard Kollmar (6 April 1940 - 8 November 1965) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (19)

Death was caused by combination of alcohol and barbiturates, although the medical examiner typed "circumstances undetermined" underneath it.
Published Jack Ruby's testimony to the Warren Commission in the New York Journal American before the report was released to President Lyndon Johnson or to the public. Other newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Antonio Light, printed the testimony under Kilgallen's byline.
Her gossip column called the Voice of Broadway made her enemies in the entertainment business, notably Frank Sinatra, who went out of his way to cut her down in his Las Vegas shows. Although his daughter Nancy Sinatra criticized Kilgallen in a posthumous book on the singer, Nancy was willing to appear as a mystery guest on What's My Line? (1950) while he was feuding with the columnist. The two women shook hands on the air but did not say anything to each other.
After the initial telecast of What's My Line? (1950), the Goodson Todman company decided that Dorothy was mirthless, combative, competitive and tactless, but much too good to drop from the show. According to officials of Goodson Todman Productions who were interviewed in the mid 1970s by her biographer Lee Israel, the warm and witty Arlene Francis was brought in on the second program to lighten things up and the balance became perfect. Francis claimed in her autobiography, however, that she had been scheduled to appear on the first telecast but had to back out for reasons she no longer could recall.
Was the inspiration for the somewhat-less-than-ethical columnist character "Daisy Kilgranite" on The Flintstones (1960).
Besides Frank Sinatra, she also feuded with Jack Paar and Arthur Godfrey. Her feud with Paar was based on his support of Fidel Castro and Kilgallen, a staunch anti-communist, criticized him for it.
Sister of Eleanor Kilgallen, who was a powerful casting agent and talent scout in the entertainment business for several decades. Eleanor played an important part in the rise to fame of James Dean, Kim Cattrall and other actors she spotted in New York.
Appeared weekly on 'What's My Line?' throughout her third pregnancy, right up until the week before her delivery. The mores of the 1950s prohibited pregnant women appearing on TV, despite Lucille Ball's groundbreaking 1952 appearances on 'I Love Lucy' while pregnant with her second child. What enabled Dorothy to appear on 'What's My Line?' throughout her entire pregnancy was that the long desk at which the panelists sat was high enough to cover her gravid condition. Dorothy missed the March 21, 1954 telecast, as she was in LeRoy Sanitarium, a private hospital in Manhattan, having given birth two days earlier to her third child and second son, Kerry Ardan Kollmar. Her two older children went on the air as special guests that night.
There was a fire in Dorothy's Manhattan apartment on the morning of December 15, 1953. The fireman who extinguished the fire, Harold Gold, was later a contestant on the November 14, 1954 telecast of 'What's My Line?" Dorothy did not recognize him.
Often credited as the first journalist to break the story that John F. Kennedy was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe. Actually, the Voice of Broadway column that reached New Yorkers on Friday afternoon, August 3, 1962 said only that the actress has "proven vastly alluring to a handsome gentleman who's a bigger name than Joe DiMaggio was in his heydey." Monroe died that Saturday night or Sunday morning before other newspapers could publish this edition of the Voice of Broadway. So all that happened was New Yorkers speculated about the identity of the very famous "handsome gentleman.".
Suffered from insomnia, and regularly took barbiturates. Although many felt this habit led to her death, New York medical examiner James Luke could not prove she ever had abused the pills or capsules. No one came forward to say publicly that she had. She died from an overdose, not from long-term damage to her body that she may have done over the years. Estimates of how many capsules she took while she lay dying were vague. (At least two NYPD detectives and at least one representative of the medical examiner's office found her body in "a half-sitting position," according to Detective John Doyle, also known as Jack Doyle) in a bed she previously had not used in a room of her house where she always felt uncomfortable.) A kinescope of "What's My Line?" shows her, approximately four hours before her death, identifying one person's line and closing in on another person's. During the final seconds before the red light on the camera goes out, Kilgallen can be heard jokingly reacting to a lighthearted comment made by Bennett Cerf about the contestant she almost identified. Tony Randall, seated next to her, can be seen elbowing her left side as if politely expressing disapproval.
Some supporters of the standard "Oswald acted alone official story" have tried to hang the entire theory of Kilgallen learning dangerous secrets and dying suspiciously on two book authors who have questionable reputations: Mark Lane and Lee Israel. But in December of 2016, Simon & Schuster is distributing a new Kilgallen biography by Mark Shaw. He already has authored more than twenty books, and his integrity has not been questioned. His book presents evidence that Kilgallen indeed could have learned dangerous secrets about Oswald and Jack Ruby and that her death on November 8, 1965 in fact was suspicious and is worthy of attention from serious historians. Mr. Shaw's sources include Kilgallen personal hairdresser Marc Sinclaire. Mr. Sinclaire did not reveal anything to Ms. Israel, who was Kilgallen's first biographer. She got him on the phone at the Elizabeth Arden hair salon in midtown Manhattan where he worked in the 1970s, but he refused to discuss Kilgallen with her. But in 2000, he granted a long video interview to a researcher, and Mark Shaw has used it for his book.
As a child she lived with her family in Chicago Irish-American Blue Collar community of Canaryville on Normal Avenue.
While residing in Chicago, the Kilgallen family belonged to and attended church at St. Gabriel's Parish, 4522 S. Wallace Street.
Daughter of James Kilgallen.
Older sister of talent agent Eleanor Kilgallen.
According to the NY Post of Sept. 2, 2017, the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney's Office announced, after an eight-month investigation, that they could find no reason to believe that Kilgallen's death was a homicide. They had investigated the possibility of that happening due to her public dispute with the findings of the Warren Commission and the assassination of President Kennedy. Exactly a week after her death, New York City Medical Examiner James Luke announced it had been caused by sleeping pills and alcohol that ended up in her system via "circumstances undetermined." Dr. Luke added that he could not determine the type of alcoholic drink that she had ingested.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page