WEIRDLAND: August 2021

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Collateral Damage: Mark Shaw’s Public Atrocity

In Mark Shaw’s recent publication, Collateral Damage (2021), largely about the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Kilgallen, the author recklessly engaged in what Sherlock Holmes calls a capital mistake. An important foundational premise posited by Shaw in Collateral Damage is that some type of lengthy and abiding friendship existed between the film star and the gossip columnist. Kilgallen’s friends, Shaw asserts, “included stars from stage and screen like Marilyn.” Yet, the author does not offer any tangible evidence to conclusively establish this putative friendship. In an email communication with me regarding the Marilyn–Dorothy friendship alleged by Shaw, Marilyn biographer, Gary Vitacco-Robles, noted that he was “only aware of DK attending the event to promote” the romantic comedy, Let’s Make Love (1960). 

Extant photographs depict Marilyn, her costar, Yves Montand, and Arthur Miller with Dorothy Kilgallen. But an unbiased and forthright analysis of those photographs will lead to this conclusion: while Marilyn and Dorothy were together during that publicity event, they were not being friendly. In fact, Marilyn appeared to be completely disinterested in Dorothy’s presence, as the photographs reveal. In fact, the actual evidence suggests just the contrary: Marilyn and Dorothy were not friends. Also, Gary Vitacco-Robles informed me that Eunice Murray only returned to the hacienda on one occasion: with Marilyn’s sister, Berniece, and Inez Melson to select a burial dress for Marilyn. Shaw appears not to have done his homework on this.

The opinions offered by Cara Williams clearly undermine Shaw’s expressed purpose: to present Marilyn as more than just a sexpot, but to present her as an accomplished actress who reached the top on her talent; to present her as a woman of intelligence and humanity. Cara’s opinions pertaining to Marilyn did not provide Shaw’s readers with an insight into Marilyn’s life or her death. In fact, Cara’s opinions did not provide evidence of anything. Jane Russell, Marilyn’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star, appears as one of Shaw’s sources at approximately the midpoint of his book. Unlike Cara Williams, at least Jane had some feelings for Marilyn and often referred to the blonde movie star as her little sister. According to his source notes, Shaw did not interview Jane. Instead, he relied on quotations from a biography written by Edwin P. Hoyt, Marilyn: The Tragic Venus, published in 1965; quotations which Shaw does not properly source, a common occurrence for him. According to Shaw, Jane informed Hoyt that her co-star “was always sweet and friendly with the stagehands and the crew” along with also being “a thoughtful person, a searching person.” 

Gianni Russo portrayed Carlo Rizzi in the 1972 movie, The Godfather. He reprised his portrayal in the movie’s 1974 sequel. Tracing the development of Russo’s yarn in the ever accommodating media has been humorous. The edges of his MM narrative changed constantly over the years, not unlike the edges of an amoeba. In 2006, for example, Russo announced on the Howard Stern Show that Marilyn was in her 20s when he first encountered her and their affair began. Shall we engage in some simple arithmetic? When Russo was born, Norma Jeane was 17. On June 1, 1946, Norma turned twenty. At that time, Russo was two-years-old, still in diapers no doubt and pulling on a pacifier. A decade later, Marilyn started her thirties on June 1, 1956, and she attended the premiere of The Seven Year Itch in Manhattan with Joe DiMaggio. At that time, Russo was a twelve-year-old boy. So, at the age of 12, he was taking on Joe D? Would Mario Puzo even write that? There’s more. Russo declared that his affair with Marilyn actually began when he was 16 and she was 23. Marilyn was 23 in 1949. Russo must have become an extremely advanced six-year-old in December of that year. But this is obvious: neither Norma Jeane nor Marilyn Monroe had an affair with Gianni Russo.

After the publication of Russo’s book by St. Martin’s Press in 2019, lawyer Donna Morel began to investigate Russo, specifically, his sensational revelations about Marilyn Monroe, his alleged relationship with the actress, and his assertions about her death. Donna uncovered two newspaper articles that she provided to me along with a press release pertaining to a series of photographs that had been taken at Cal-Neva Lodge that infamous July weekend; and the press release appeared to contradict several of Russo’s assertions. In May of 2019, Donna received a telephone call and a story about Russo’s photograph that completely contradicted the yarn spun by the Hollywood Godfather. Recently, Donna graciously provided me with the Married Guest’s telephone number. On Tuesday, August the 10th, 2021, at 10:00 AM, I engaged Donna’s source in a 90- minute conversation. The story I received confirmed what Donna had already reported to me. The individual to whom Donna and I spoke took the photograph, not Sam Giancana, who, according to the actual photographer, was not even at Cal-Neva that weekend. The Married Guest admitted to knowing the ganglord well and humorously commented: “Sam Giancana never took a photograph of anybody in his entire life!”

As you have probably already assumed, the man in the photograph was most certainly not Gianni Russo; the man was an employee, a roadie who worked for an entertainer who performed that July weekend. Unfortunately, the Married Guest could not recall the roadie’s name, but commented that he was a nice man, not boy. Furthermore, when I asked if Robert Kennedy was at Cal-Neva that weekend, I received laughter and a firm “absolutely not.” To my question about the presence of mobsters other than Sam Giancana, I received a precise answer: “There were no mobsters there.” To my question regarding the alleged yarns about all the bad things that happened to Marilyn Monroe that weekend, the Married Guest replied: “Nothing bad happened to Marilyn. It was a big party and everybody enjoyed themselves, including Marilyn.” According to the Married Guest, the blonde movie star “was a very funny gal, but she did get drunk one night.” I also hasten to denote this: two reliable sources who were also guests at the Cal-Neva Lodge that weekend, Betsy Hammes and the actor Alex D’Arcy, told Donald Spoto virtually 30 years ago that Giancana and his gang were not there. Their testimony has been completely ignored, not only by Mark Shaw, but the entire risible Marilyn-Was-Murdered-World.

Robert Kennedy was in Washington on Monday, July 30th, 1962, where he spoke to a large group of educators to open the President’s Council on Youth Fitness. “Energetic Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy gave a pep talk on the importance of physical fitness yesterday,” reported a Port Chester New York newspaper, The Daily Item, in its July 31st edition. From this established record, Robert Kennedy was not with Marilyn Monroe at Cal-Neva Lodge at any time during the weekend of July 28th, as absurdly stated by Gianni Russo. For a man of his ilk to assert as much, along with all the other rubbish he has uttered, borders on felonious behavior. But then, he maintains that is exactly what he was—a criminal, and a murdering criminal at that, along with many other illegal enterprises which Shaw ignores. Mark Shaw evokes Sgt. Clemmons as another source in Collateral Damage.

Sgt. Jack Clemmons was the first police officer to arrive at Fifth Helena Drive on Sunday, August 5th. “Someone can’t swallow that many barbiturates without throwing up,” Clemmons said, “therefore she could have gotten drugs in her body by another method.” According to Shaw, Sgt. Clemmons suspected that Marilyn had, in fact, vomited, but all traces of it “may been cleaned up before he arrived;” the sergeant also concluded that the murder weapon was possibly a suppository or an enema. Shaw also mentions that Sgt. Clemmons observed “additional empty containers” of pills and “scattered capsules and pills of another nature,” meaning obviously that capsules and pills had been dropped either in Marilyn’s bed or on the white carpeted floor, something I had neither read nor heard before. Eventually, Shaw recites Sgt. Clemmons’ story that he observed Eunice Murray operating a washing machine and clothes dryer close to dawn; obviously destroying evidence of vomit or another bodily discharge which could have proved Marilyn was murdered. In fact, Marilyn did not own a washing machine or a clothes dryer. She used a laundry service; but as with Gianni Russo, Shaw did not allow that fact to encumber him or his speculations about evidence Eunice Murray hypothetically destroyed.

Sgt. Jack Clemmons told his tales to many conspiracist authors from Robert Slatzer to Anthony Summers to Donald Wolfe, who became a close friend of Clemmons. I also traced the testimony the sergeant offered during his interviews during the many television documentaries he appeared in until his death in 1998. For 36 years, Sgt. Clemmons declared that Marilyn Monroe did not commit suicide: she was murdered by an injection administered directly into her heart by psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, which is a scientific impossibility, proven by Dr. Noguchi’s autopsy and Dr. Abernathy’s toxicological tests. But evidently—and like many in the MM trade—the once LAPD cop repeated the heart injection fantasy so often that he actually grew to believe it happened, when, in fact, it didn’t. Clemmons’ testimony was often inconsistent and contradictory; and his recollections of August 5th changed over the passing years. He even began to assert that Marilyn’s house and her bedroom were exceptionally tidy, and appeared to have been cleaned with all things neatly arranged. One look at the police photographs taken that August morning clearly indicated otherwise. Sgt. Clemmons’ career as a policeman came to a dishonorable end in 1965, due to his involvement with Frank Capell and the Thomas Kuchel libel incident. Like Frank Capell, Jack Clemmons evidently did not have a problem twisting the facts. Like most dutiful conspiracists, Shaw published the police photograph of Marilyn’s bedside table and, like his conspiracist compatriots, he published a cropped version, included below. Dutifully, he also noted that a drinking glass was not on Marilyn’s bedside table and one could not be found, neither in her bedroom nor her adjoining bathroom.

Displayed below is the actual, uncropped photograph taken that Sunday morning by police combined with an enlargement of the trash can area. Please note the drinking glass to the right of the trash can on the floor and to the left of Marilyn’s bed, a clearly visible drinking glass.

Shaw included what he asserted was the bedroom wing layout of Marilyn’s hacienda and he paraphrased Eunice Murray’s testimony about that tragic Sunday morning: “while on the way to her bathroom,” Shaw noted, “she [Mrs. Murray] noticed light visible beneath Marilyn’s door, causing her to become suspicious that something could be wrong.” However, Shaw doubted that testimony, calling it inconsistent and apparently a lie. On the night of August 4th, Eunice Murray slept in the smaller bedroom where Marilyn had positioned a cot, identified on the floor plan as “Guest Sleeping.” Pat Newcomb had slept in the same bedroom on the same cot when she spent Friday night with Marilyn. It is apparent that Mrs. Murray could have noticed light emanating from Marilyn’s bedroom on her way to the Jack and Jill bathroom and considering the arrangement of the bedroom’s doors, she could have stood at her bedroom door and easily observed Marilyn’s bedroom door. In the police photograph of Marilyn’s bedroom, looking across her disheveled bed at the opposing wall, clearly Mrs. Murray was preparing to enter the bedroom where she had slept, clearly visible from Marilyn’s bedroom door.

Finally, Shaw trotted out the famous thank-you note from Jean Kennedy Smith to Marilyn. During the Lawford’s 1962 February dinner party, Marilyn spoke to the ailing Kennedy clan patriarch via a telephone call instigated by Robert Kennedy. Joe Kennedy had suffered a serious stroke on December 19th in 1961, but he had yet to recover: he could barely speak. Robert must have felt that hearing Marilyn’s incredible voice would bolster the old man’s spirits. Sometime later, Marilyn sent a kind note to the senior Kennedy. In response to Marilyn’s kindness and her note, Jean Kennedy Smith wrote and sent Marilyn the aforementioned thank-you note. Both pages of the actual note are shown above. An innocent note, written and sent in response to a note that Marilyn sent to Joe Kennedy, Sr. It has always been of particular interest to conspiracists, including Shaw.  But in his book, he published the note’s second page only, which begins with: “understand you and Bobby are the new item!” Clearly, Shaw did not publish the first page of the note for obvious reasons. 

Like conspiracists before him, Shaw breathlessly pointed to the thank-you note as evidence and proof that Marilyn and Robert Kennedy were involved in an affair and the invitation extended by Jean Smith for Marilyn to join Bobby when he returned to the east has been used by the conspiracists as evidence that Robert Kennedy’s extramarital relationship with Marilyn had been accepted by the Kennedy clan, specifically the Kennedy women. As the first sentence of the thank-you note clearly stated, Rose Kennedy asked her daughter to write and thank Marilyn. That request “triggered the letter,” not something nefarious. During the decades since the note was sent to Marilyn by Jean Smith, its context has been completely disregarded by the conspiracists, including Mark Shaw. Obviously, the comment about Marilyn and Bobby being “the new item” was meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Marilyn’s twist teaching efforts during the Lawford’s February dinner party and the uproarious scene caused by Robert Kennedy attempting to dance with Marilyn Monroe. Evidently, Ethel constantly teased the Attorney General over that humorous scene, as frequently noted by John Seigenthaler, Robert Kennedy’s assistant.

That Jean Smith would invite Marilyn to visit Hyannisport seems only natural: who would not want Marilyn Monroe in their home for a visit? The conspiracists efforts to use that innocent note as proof of not only a romantic affair but the affair’s acceptance by the Kennedy clan and the Kennedy women is preposterous. That attempt should be viewed as manufactured since Sgt. Jack Clemmons, Frank Capell, Robert Slatzer, and Jeanne Carmen were all complicit in it. For an author—who is also an attorney—to place himself in such a dubious crowd is: well, its mystifying. “A guy known as The Doctor murdered Marilyn,” Russo testified to Michael Kaplan for a 3/2/19 New York Post article. The Doctor was a killer for hire and an actual MD who performed “major hits for the mob […].” This unnamed doctor “injected air into the vein near Marilyn’s pubic region,” which rendered the injection site invisible, Russo reported to Kaplan. Although Russo did not specify which vein or which part of Marilyn’s anatomy received the injection. While possibly the most inventive of Marilyn’s Murder Orthodoxies, Russo’s embolism tarradiddle is also certainly the most ludicrous. How could a venous gas embolism create the lethal concentrations of Chloral hydrate and pentobarbital in Marilyn’s blood and liver? Despite the ludicrous nature of Russo’s fairy tale, it has been reported by many newspapers, magazines, and Internet articles as the absolute truth. Yet, the most remarkable aspect of this curiosity is that Mark Shaw actually asserts that Russo’s incredibly imbecilic fairy tale has some credence. Once again, I am not being the least bit facetious.

An insane number of theories about the death of Marilyn Monroe have been developed and presented as fact during the past fifty-nine years: at least 12. The conspiracist authors who developed and presented those theories invariably contended that theirs was factual: the Last Word regarding the who, when, how, and why of Marilyn’s perceived mysterious death, her murder. Still, all of those theories did not satisfy Mark Shaw. Therefore, he developed one of his own. Let’s call his new theory Number 13. According to Shaw, Number 13 proceeds as follows. Sometime near midnight, unable to sleep, Marilyn “heard a noise at her front door.” Upon opening the door, two gloved men assaulted her and “stunned” her by placing “a chloroform-sealed cloth over her nose and mouth.” Once in her bedroom, the murderers removed any outer “clothing she was wearing such as a robe or panties” and they then carefully “positioned her nude body on the floor face down.” Also, Shaw failed to mention the concentration of pentobarbital in Marilyn’s blood, 4.5 mg%, quite a significant omission and a prime example of cherry picking in order to exclude relevant but unwanted evidence. Abernathy’s tests indicated a concentration of pentobarbital in Marilyn’s liver three times as high as the concentration in her blood. Explained by a branch of pharmacology called pharmacokinetics, that relationship is consistent with ingesting a large overdose and proves beyond a reasonable doubt and to a scientific certainty that the drugs were ingested. The drugs were not injected into Marilyn’s body, she did not receive a hot shot, and she was not murdered with a bulb syringe.

Amazing: Shaw began to question his own theory, his own explanation of what happened to Marilyn and led to her death. What time did the killers arrive? he questioned. Where was Mrs. Murray when the killers arrived and enacted the gruesome scene in Marilyn’s bedroom? Shaw speculates that the murder possibly occurred between midnight and 3:00 AM, contradicting his proclamation that the murderers arrived “at some point close to midnight.” Then, regarding the bruise on Marilyn’s hip, Shaw admitted that “other explanations exist as to how Marilyn could have bruised her left hip.” However, if that bruise was caused as he speculated, then obviously foul play had been involved in Marilyn’s death. He then wondered if Mrs. Murray had “knowledge of the attempt on Marilyn’s life,” which he admits could not be known. He then speculates that Mrs. Murray became spooked by “hearing noise near Marilyn’s bedroom,” which caused “Murray to wonder if Marilyn was in distress” and prompted her “to call either Greenson or Engelberg.” Eventually, Shaw’s speculations centered on Dr. Greenson, Dr. Engelberg, and Eunice Murray and their possible complicity with Robert Kennedy who “orchestrated Marilyn’s death via operatives sent to her home.” Frankly, it became self-evident as I read Shaw’s speculations and strange contradictions, that he likely did not even believe Number 13, which he himself formulated. So why should I? Besides, I know Shaw’s Number 13 is a fantasy founded on sensationalism. Marilyn was dead before midnight. Evidence, not speculation, confirms that and confirms that Marilyn certainly was not alive at 3:00 AM on August 5th. Unlike Mark Shaw, rigor mortis and fixed lividity do not speculate.

Dorothy Kilgallen’s columns following Marilyn’s death had been based on rumor and gossip, innuendo and sensationalism. All advanced by other luminaries in the gossip mongering field: Walter Winchell, Earl Wilson, Louella Parsons, and James Bacon. As of right now in America, rumor, gossip, and innuendo do not qualify as evidence. Still, Shaw promised his readers that he would reveal new and compelling evidence regarding Marilyn’s death. He didn’t. He merely recited, right on cue, what Sarah Churchwell accurately identified as the same tales and bromides. Why would he evoke discredited men like Frank Capell, Sgt. Jack Clemmons, and many others, including both C. David Heymann and the incorrigible fabulist, Gianni Russo? The answer is obvious: Shaw wanted and needed sources that confirmed his foregone conclusion, not unlike every conspiracist author who has written about Marilyn Monroe’s life and her death. If Mark Shaw really wanted justice for Marilyn, which, considering his use of Gianni Russo, I doubt, then Shaw would have let her rest in peace. But evidently that would be an empathetic compassion beyond a conspiracists' comprehension. Source:  kennedysandking.com

Monday, August 16, 2021

Refuting Rothmiller's Bombshell, Murder Orthodoxies by Donald McGovern

During the half century, plus nine years, that have elapsed since Marilyn’s untimely death, the debate concerning the why and how of that tragic event has continued loudly and unabated, almost attaining the ear piercing level of a cacophony. The theories that have attempted to answer all the lingering questions and thereby solve the lingering mystery have become even more bizarre and more sensational while becoming less substantiated. In short, the passing of time has not given rise to a clearer understanding of the facts, just foggier and goofier opinions. The last opportunist release is former LAPD police officer Michael Rothmiller's Bombshell (2021). The case is neither Robert Slatzer nor Jeanne Carmen nor Samir Muqaddin nor the 1982 LADA Summary Report regarding that investigation mentioned Michael Rothmiller. But then, the mythology surrounding Marilyn’s diary, as it relates to her death, is so ingrained in her story and so well known by most of humanity, it is entirely remarkable that more persons have not appeared with odd stories similar to Rothmiller’s. The secret diary mythology has flourished in the unusually fertile firmament of distrust and paranoia; and it has been continuously fertilized by a voyeuristic media and opportunistic individuals adept at manipulating the confusion caused by misinterpretation and misunderstanding, manipulated by those who can invariably grind confusion into monetary benefit. Marilyn’s death is not a complex polynomial nor a mysterious mathematical expression: it only appears to be one due to the overabundance of conflicting and contradictory testimony contained in the numerous pathographies written about her life and what has become her perversely sexualized death.

Reopening the investigation into the facts surrounding Marilyn's death, in 1982, the Assistant District Attorney at the time, Ronald H. Carroll, and an investigator, Alan B. Tomich, along with several other investigators, reviewed the case files in 1982 between the months of August and December, conducted additional interviews and addressed all the questions raised by various conspiracists. The district attorney’s office then published, in December of 1982, a twenty-nine page summary report, The Death of Marilyn Monroe: Report to the District Attorney, a copy of which I obtained directly from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The published LADA report concluded: "Although factual discrepancies exist, the cumulative evidence available to us fails to support any theory of criminal conduct relating to her death. Based on the information available, no further criminal investigation appears required into Miss Monroe’s death."

It is rich indeed that Joyce Carol Oates, who wrote Blonde (one of the most loathsome books ever written about Marilyn Monroe), should object to the proliferation of destructive literary works masquerading as biographies; but Oates’ corruption perfectly represented the horns of my dilemma: should I employ the word biography in relation to the books about Marilyn Monroe written by Ted Jordan, C. David Heymann, Anthony Summers and several others?  Most of the books written about Marilyn Monroe are, in fact, pathographies. Blonde is certainly and clearly a case in point; considering the number of books written about Marilyn Monroe, over one-thousand; yet it is difficult to find one that does not have a heavy and undeniable smell of offal. Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin, for example, reported that Ralph Roberts gave Marilyn her regular Saturday massage between 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM, before leaving by the front door. Carl Rollyson cited Ralph Robert’s presence along with Marilyn’s massage; but Rollyson reported that Laurence Schiller did not appear at Fifth Helena until 10:30 AM, a time which completely contradicted Schiller’s memoir. However, Donald Spoto, who interviewed Marilyn’s good friend and masseur, did not mention Ralph’s presence that morning or that alleged massage. Additionally, Gary Vitacco-Robles reported that Schiller arrived sometime before noon and that Marilyn took the photographer on a tour of Fifth Helena during his August the 4th visit. 

Gary Vitacco-Robles in Icon, considered by many the best Monroe biography, or at least one of the top three, also failed to mention that Marilyn received an early morning massage. Biographer Michelle Morgan mentioned a Schiller visit in her Marilyn biography; but she did not mention a tour of Fifth Helena. Donald Spoto did not mention a residential tour and neither did Schiller in his written memoir. Marilyn biographer, Randy Taraborrelli, did not mention a visit by Schiller at all. Likewise, the murder theorists Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin also excluded Schiller’s visit from their accounting of August the 4th’s events. I implicitly trust the assiduously researched, two volume Marilyn biography written by Gary Vitacco-Robles. I also trust Donald Spoto’s biography along with the volume published by Michelle Morgan and, to an extent, the one published by Stacy Eubank; on the other hand, I am not as trusting of Randy Taraborrelli or Lawrence Schiller's. On 16th July, according to Heymann, Marilyn attended a celebratory party thrown by the Senior Kennedy at Romanoff’s, a restaurant in Beverly Hills. Heymann alleged that Kennedy and Marilyn were together during that entire Saturday before the future president elect flew back to Boston, departure time not divulged.

On the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website, those that are interested can view a video of his twenty-two minute acceptance speech as it was broadcast by CBS television in 1960. Occasionally, the television cameras scan the large crowd, probably searching for attending celebrities, considering the proximity to Hollywood. If Marilyn Monroe was there, arguably the biggest movie star in the world in 1960, the cameras never located her; and I find that strange indeed. Also, there are no contemporaneous media reports that Marilyn attended the Democrat convention in 1960; and that media void leads to obvious and pertinent questions: where was Marilyn and what was she doing during July of that year? She was attending pre-production meetings for filming The Misfits, to begin in late July, Marilyn departed for New York City on June the 25th. She arrived in Manhattan the following day. During the first week in July, Arthur Miller joined Marilyn in New York City where, beginning on the 5th, she performed several screen tests for The Misfits. On July the 13th, the fourth day of the Los Angeles convention, Marilyn located Ralph Roberts playing poker in Maureen Stapleton’s Manhattan apartment. Roberts agreed to give Marilyn a massage. Upon entering the Miller’s apartment, also in Manhattan, Roberts found her watching the Democrat National Convention via her television set as Arthur Miller slept in the couple’s adjoining bedroom. On July the 14th, Thursday, the conventions fifth day, Marilyn sent Ralph Greenson a telegram from Manhattan, accompanied by a bouquet of roses. The telegram noted that she would be in Los Angeles on Sunday evening, July the 17th. According to Donald Spoto, Marilyn attended a therapy session with Dr. Greenson on the 18th of July, and kept an appointment with her internist, Dr. Hyman Engelberg. She departed for Reno, Nevada, by airplane on July the 20th. 

The following day, John Huston filmed the first scene of The Misfits in Nevada. Regardless of the actual date Marilyn left New York City, she obviously did not participate in the events and shenanigans as asserted by C. David Heymann. Marilyn was not in Los Angeles during the week of July the 10th and she was not with John Kennedy during the Democratic National Convention in 1960. According to Gary Vitacco-Robles, Marilyn was en-route to Los Angeles on July the 15th; and therefore, she could not have attended John Kennedy’s acceptance speech at the Los Angeles Coliseum nor met him backstage on July the 15th. The lack of credible evidence to support a love affair between actress and attorney general should come as no surprise: Norman Mailer confessed in 1973 that he fundamentally fabricated that romantic link between Marilyn and Robert Kennedy. Besides, Marilyn invariably spoke highly of John Kennedy and his brother. Simply put, it is more than doubtful that she would ever have participated in such a fabled press conference. Neither John Fitzgerald nor Robert Francis Kennedy were involved in Marilyn’s death. Robert Francis did not visit Marilyn along with Peter Lawford on August the 4th in Los Angeles.  

Additionally, Pat Newcomb, Peter Lawford, Eunice Murray and Dr. Greenson did not induce Marilyn to commit suicide. Doing that would not have been possible, frankly, once we consider Marilyn’s willfulness. Anthony Summers admitted that Peter Lawford refuted the tales regarding John Kennedy’s affair with Marilyn. The ill and aging English actor termed the allegations thereof nothing but balls; and yet, since Lawford’s repudiation contradicted Summers’ entrenched belief, Summers asserted that the facts suggested otherwise. I am not exactly sure which facts Summers meant. Summers relied on quotations from various witnesses, Deborah Gould, for instance, who was married to Lawford in 1976; but as husband and wife, Peter and Deborah only cohabited for two months. Patricia Seaton informed David Johnston, a vocal critic of Heymann’s frequent use of fabricated and deceased sources, that Lawford could not have been interviewed by Heymann as the author had alleged. According to Patricia, Peter was close to death and hardly able to make coherent statements, much less conduct a lengthy interview. Did Heymann interview the dying actor? More than likely, I here assert, never. According to Patricia Seaton, Heymann invented all the quotations he attributed to her husband; and a considerable amount of what Heymann quoted, what he alleged came directed from Lawford, found its way onto the pages of Marilyn pathographies written thereafter; but the quotation most often mentioned in the same breath as the name Peter Lawford became the title of a BBC television documentary, Say Goodbye to the President, broadcast in October of 1985. 

Marilyn Monroe was not a fan of Peter Lawford. Their unique history suggests that Lawford fell romantically for Marilyn at the beginning of her movie career and he pursued her while they were both a part of the local surfing community; but she was simply disinterested. She apparently referred to him as a beach wolf more than once. LAPD interviewed Peter Lawford on 16th October 1974 at 5:00 PM. During that interview, Lawford asserted that Marilyn's last words had been: 'Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to Jack and say goodbye to yourself, because you’re a nice guy.' The preceding quotation is not exactly the same as the one reported by Summers and other conspiracists. Does the absence of a goodbye to Bobby suggest that Marilyn never had an affair with the attorney general? Moreover, during his LAPD interview, as noted on the written account thereof, Mr. Lawford also stated that most of what has been written by various authors, such as Robert Slatzer, Anthony Scaduto, Norman Mailer and others regarding the last days in the life of Marilyn Monroe were ‘pure fantasy’. Odd. No conspiracist of which I am aware has ever mentioned or quoted Lawford’s interview with the LAPD. A few conspiracists have alleged that Ralph Greenson and his associates wanted to gain control of Marilyn’s estate and the millions of dollars it would generate after her death; and so they murdered her. Such an orthodoxy, however, has a central flaw: how could those persons have known prior to Marilyn’s death that her estate would generate any income for any entity other than 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation or the photographer, Milton H. Greene? In fact, they could not have known that Marilyn would become, in death, the icon and symbol that she became. —"Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death" (2018) by Donald R. McGovern

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Ryan Murphy's American Love Story: John Kennedy Jr & Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

Ryan Murphy has dipped his toes into nearly every genre—exploring Old Hollywood feuds, high school glee clubs, and all the horror stories with his signature flourish. As it turns out, there’s a lot more where that came from. Two new American Story spinoff series—American Sports Story and American Love Story are coming, alongside a Studio 54-themed installment of American Crime Story, FX and 20th Television announced Friday. The first season of American Sports Story will be about the podcast Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc and will chart the rise and fall of NFL star Aaron Hernandez. The season will further explore "the connections of the disparate strands of his identity, his family, his career, his suicide, and their legacy in sports and American culture," according to a press release.

American Love Story, as the title suggests, will center around love. Specifically, the true love stories that captured the world's attention. Season 1 will be the dramatization of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s romance, the courtship and marriage of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. "What started out as a beautiful union for the young couple, widely regarded as American royalty, began to fray under the stress of the relentless microscope and navel gaze of tabloid media," reads a plot description. "The pressures of their careers and rumored family discord ended with their tragic deaths when his private plane crashed into the ocean on a hazy summer night off the coast of Massachusetts." The real-life whirlwind romance, of course, rocked Manhattan in the ‘90s: JFK Jr.–the only son of the former President and Jackie O—was America’s most eligible bachelor. Bessette was a fashion PR executive with impeccable style of her own. But rumors of impassioned fights and an occasional bump of cocaine always haunted them until their tragic deaths during a plane crash in 1999. Bessette’s life has never been told on screen in a major way—though she was a major focus in Carole Radziwill’s book What Remains and was credited as the inspiration for Rosamund Pike’s performance in Gone Girl. It feels like someone was going to tell this story eventually, so why not Murphy? Source: hollywoodreporter.com

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Widespread Panic, Unattainable Women, Shedding light on Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

In June 2021, Knopf released James Ellroy's Widespread Panic, the latest novel in the 73-year-old author’s oeuvre. That includes the L.A. Quartet, which spans 1946 to 1958 in Los Angeles and incorporates The Black Dahlia—his breakout book in 1987—and L.A. Confidential; the Underworld U.S.A. trilogy, which starts with American Tabloid and covers the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.; and the Second L.A. Quartet, set during World War II, beginning with 2014’s Perfidia. Ellroy “will watch any crummy film noir on TV just to see shots of L.A. as it really looked in 1951—the architecture, the clothes, everything else,” he says. “I live in the past. My life is freeze-framed at the time of my mother’s death, which was 1958.” In Widespread Panic, a sort of follow-up to Shakedown, Ellroy again returns to that time, spinning a fictionalized story about the real-life Fred Otash, a former L.A. police officer who became a private investigator and “the head strong-armed goon for Confidential magazine,” a celebrity scandal rag that he helped fill with gossip. There is a brief glance at 2020, though: Otash, stuck in purgatory for 28 years since his death in 1992, has been offered a way out by telling all. “There’s Heaven for the good folks, Hell for the beastfully baaaaaad,” Otash explains. “There’s Purgatory for guys like me—caustic cads that capitalized on a sicko system and caused catastrophe.... Baby, it’s time to confess.” In the novel, Otash is driven to help and love unattainable women (mainly actress Lois Nettleton). Ellroy thought Fred Otash to be good company but not trustworthy. Otash is “just ripped in half by his desire to do good and his desire to roll around in the dirt of the human condition,” says Ellroy, who describes the novel as “satire, parody, a big riff on this male figure at midcentury. It’s my fondest book.” Source: https://www.publishersweekly.com

The Untold Story of Carolyn Bessette (working title) will be published in Spring 2023: A sensitive, sophisticated act of reclaiming the narrative of a woman both ordinary and extraordinary, whose legacy has heretofore been determined by authors and journalists dead set on casting her in an unflattering light as a villain. Media accounts—and even historical treatments today—have usually portrayed Bessette as an ice queen, a vapid fashion insider, a child of WASP privilege, and a fame-hungry accessory to her husband. Yet the Carolyn that comes alive in these pages is a warm, vivacious daughter of a middle-class Italian-American family; a magnetic, caring friend; an ambitious go-getter; and a camera-shy woman with a history of trauma, who had complicated feelings about the public life that her relationship required of her. The Untold Story of Carolyn Bessette will open readers’ eyes to the many sides of Bessette without shying away from the thornier aspects of her character and story. It will couch its observations and revelations in the care and empathy due any human being, while also invoking the glamor and possibility of the 90s in New York. This biography will also be a “Kennedy book” that breaks new ground. 

(A Weirdland Exclusive) A relative of Carolyn Bessette explains about the separation rumors between John Kennedy Jr & Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and other issues:  There was nothing to reconcile. As I dig into this, I can say with absolute certainty that most of this is fabricated bullshit. Any reconciliation that happened was a basic step back from the public eye as they started a family. That's where things were going. Carolyn spent her formative years in Greenwich and Boston. Quite possible that she occasionally enjoyed cocaine [in CK]. However, she was really intelligent and probably was around it [the drug scene] but not partaking in it. She did not have a habit. I graduated from UConn one month prior to the crash. I met JFK Jr in New York. He was really down to earth. And they were great together. I respect your positive angle on a tough situation. I trust you and appreciate everything you're doing. I find your level of detail to be value-worthy. For all of the fluff, we are very much a New England family. Very pragmatic, sensible, loyal and not about our airs. Carolyn and I had very similar personalities. She was always confident in her skin. Always. She was very Connecticut and she got annoyed with intrusions. She just wanted to say f-off when the p-squad was in their face. She always had to tambour her temper in order to be gracious. And she did a good job.

As for Mike Bergin: That has no truth to it. Mr. Bergin's dad was a police officer in Naugatuck, Connecticut, at the time when my dad was a detective on the statewide narcotics team. Our families knew each other. We all hung out after Thanksgiving in Watertown,  Connecticut at a bar in 1996. (Circa 2005) I literally ran into Bergin at Maggie McFly's in Middlebury, Connecticut and made him admit his lie publicly which is why I tried to connect you with my best friend, my boarding and college roommate at Gunnery and the University of Connecticut. He (my best friend) witnessed it (Bergin's admission). All of my college buddies were drivers for both funerals. All of our Tahoes were donated by a bunch of dealerships because of my dad being a cop. Governor Rowland sent a state police escort to the NY State line and then Governor Pataki sent another escort. There are so many layers to this. We are a French family that resided on America Street in Waterbury. All Italian. Have you watched Ken Burns' documentary The War? If you want to do the family and Carolyn and Lauren and do it right, you have to understand our history. I'm proud of it. But, we came from dirt poor beginnings. I met Ken Burns once. He's a dork.... You should watch it. You'd understand us a little more. I grew up with Corado "Babe" Ciarlo's niece in Waterbury, who lived at 1032 North Main Street. "Babe" was a typical Italian from Waterbury. A great guy. I grew up in a melting pot. Irish, Scotch, Italian, Jewish, Slav, African. There's nothing better than living in Connecticut.  

One of the four cities featured in The War is Waterbury, Connecticut. We were super poor. My grandfather was electrocuted. He was killed on the job working as a foreman for Connecticut Light & Power when my dad was 16 and Carolyn's father was 26. William Bessette had graduated from the University of Connecticut and was a civil engineer. My dad is incredibly intelligent, he turned down West Point and became a cop. He was under cover (infiltrated the Hells Angels). I think the bigger story and narrative is that Carolyn and Lauren were more accomplished than most of the Kennedys. We don't like to compare but they were killing it. Look at Lauren: 34 and a phenomenon at Morgan Stanley. Was Carolyn's apex John? She had her own path. Carolyn was very 'fuck you'. She just did not want people in her face all the time and John had a different approach. 
Carolyn and I were very similar. Extremely perceptive of a room and the people in it. She was socially intelligent and also shy. She was smart and would lie back and observe. I laugh now but we wrote letters to each other. The laugh is that it was the time before email. I didn't keep the letters. 

A big tragedy in this unfortunate situation is that Lauren is overlooked. She was an amazing woman. I'll ask (another relative who was closer to the girls) about her dating another Kennedy (Bobby Shriver), however it seems highly unlikely. She was dating a cohort at Morgan Stanley at the time of her death. I believe he was Asian.
About that flight: I was in Rhode Island when they crashed. It was the most hazy I've ever seen and I have been on boats all of my life. A Carolyn and Lauren's book is paramount. Lauren and Carolyn and Lisa were very sweet. We are very stoic. I don't think anyone read Bergin's filth. I'm very angry. He is such a leach. I'm mad. It's just not true (Bergin's book The Other Man).

Lauren Bessette, Carolyn's sister, was remembered in an ecumenical memorial service at 7 p.m., July 24, 1999, in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. The candlelight service at Christ Church, an Episcopal church, was led by an Episcopal priest and the pastor of a non-denominational church. 
Lauren Bessette was remembered as a woman "always there for her friends" and "one who searched for challenges." Lauren was eulogized by her uncle, Jack Messina, who conjured a picture of his niece "playing miniature golf in the back yard in her pajamas and high heels." Previously, John Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s memorial had been conducted on July 22, 1999, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Little Italy, New York. "We believe that our children are with us in spirit each and every moment, and that is what helps sustain us," wrote Ann and Richard Freeman, the mother and stepfather of Carolyn and Lauren, in a statement issued Wednesday. "The Freeman family is very thankful for the tremendous support we have received from all over the world." Source: www.chicagotribune.com

In NYC, Monicka HanssenTeele got to know his colleagues, including PR co-worker Carolyn Bessette, the woman who later became the wife of John F Kennedy Jr., also known as John-John and JFK Jr. Monicka HanssenTeele: "Carolyn and I became friends and shared an apartment. When she was to become a show director in the company, she appointed me as her successor. Then she came home and said, 'Tomorrow you will personally go to Calvin Klein's job interview'. John was very fond of paddling (kayaking), and they said they wanted to visit the north of Norway. The trip was planned and they were supposed to come the year after the accident." Monicka had witnessed her friend Carolyn developing a love affair with JFK Jr. In the United States, the Kennedy family was the closest to a royal family and Monicka saw how Carolyn's life was turned upside down. She was hunted by paparazzi as she moved outdoors, becoming the cover of magazines and newspapers. That meant that Carolyn had to give up her job, which gave Monicka the chance to try herself as a PR after having worked three years as a celebrity stylist in Calvin Klein.

Model Carolyn Murphy: “Calvin Klein was also a big supporter in my career, and it was Carolyn Bessette who initiated that relationship. A standout pinch-me moment in my career was when I was introduced to Calvin Klein, via Carolyn Bessette, who worked for him at the time; I’d met her on the street when she was casting for CK. From that moment I worshipped her and her style.” Sciascia Gambaccini: "I think Carolyn gave Calvin a lot of inspiration in terms of her personal style," says Gambaccini, the fashion director of Marie Claire, who previously worked at Calvin Klein. "I am sure [Carolyn] intrigued Calvin a lot and inspired a lot of his campaigns, with the way she looked. A healthy, beautiful American, that is what Calvin likes most in a woman."

Steve Gillon on what Sasha Chermayeff said to him about being part of William Cohan’s book "Four Friends": “Sasha forwarded to me an email she sent to her entire class at Andover criticizing Cohan for the way he depicted her, John and Carolyn. I did not know that he repeated the old canard that Carolyn was responsible for them taking off late on Friday evening. I have the FBI report that establishes the timeline for that night. According to witnesses, Carolyn pulled just as John was preparing the plane for take-off. She could be blamed for lots of things, but not that!” Gillon discussing Richard Blow's book: “Blow made the mistake of being the first out of the gate. John’s death was still raw. Blow’s book is actually quite good and very complimentary toward John. People at George did not like Blow to begin with. They found him arrogant and pretentious. He was always dismissive of Rosemarie Terenzio and others who did not share his academic pedigree. He was not close to John. [...] I did not attend any birthday parties after his mom [Jackie Kennedy] died. They used to be much bigger affairs in her apartment. After she died John made the dinners more intimate. I was not among his closest friends who would’ve been invited to those events. The Radziwills attended, and so did Santina [Goodman]. They always celebrated their birthdays together. Christiane Amanpour. Robert Littell. Maybe Sasha [Chermayeff]. Some of the Andover guys.” 

Barbara Vaughn about John Kennedy Jr: "I was instant friends when we met as I had grown up with two of his best friends-Billy Way, Andover roommate, and Robbie Littell, [John Jr.] Brown roommate. I was also friends with Christina Haag, Daryl Hannah, Julie Baker and Carolyn. John and I met on a rafting trip in Maine late September 1989. Julie Baker contracted Lyme disease, which went undiagnosed for many many years, and in addition to becoming sick for the following eight years, she lost much of her long-term memory. Really tragic.” Historian Steve Gillon: “John said he did not want to do to his wife what his father did to his mother. Also, I interviewed Julie Baker and she was adamant that her relationship with John was not sexual. Sasha and every other friend I interviewed said John was not having an affair. I spent many hours with Sasha and she never suggested that John and Julie Baker had a sexual relationship.” 

Barbara Vaughn didn't know exactly if Billy Way was the person who had introduced John Kennedy Jr to Carolyn Bessette: “I don’t know if Billy did, but it wouldn’t surprise me. He introduced Julie Baker and John. [...] Carolyn tried to be the gatekeeper with many of John’s friends, and even his sister [Caroline Kennedy]. John was in touch with whomever he wanted to be and got together when Carolyn was seeing her fashion friends. John and Billy Noonan had a falling out sometime before John’s death, so neither he nor Carolyn were hanging out. And I’m sure John wasn’t interested in all of Carolyn’s gang... I was at one of his birthdays and dinners with our mutual friends. Carolyn would always give me a hug and a “Hi sweetie!” when our paths crossed at events. We had traveled together and hung out one-on-one prior to their marriage. She even fixed me up with a friend of theirs. [...] Finding my calendars from 1989-1996 has been illuminating. About Julie, she and John met in 1990, and she was at John’s 30th b-day bash despite the fact that Christina was his date. Then on Halloween 1991, I went with John and Julie to a crazy party where both my date and John dressed as “David”, the Michelangelo sculpture. I never realized that Julie and Carolyn had any overlap in 1994. Here’s an even stranger thing: John was seeing Daryl behind Christina‘s back in the fall of 1989. I have photos of John and Daryl at a good friend’s Xmas party in 1992, and more pictures of her and John in Shelter Island, summer of 1994. Julie was a trusted friend and confidant who he chose to talk to. She told me they did not have sex [at the Stanhope Hotel], because John wanted a clear head and conscience while trying to figure out what to do about his marriage. John told me that Julie didn’t measure up in the intellectual category, so there was a limitation on their relationship, but he really loved her - which was evidenced by the longevity of their relationship, on or off the main stage.“

Barbara Vaughn was close to Robert Littell, Rosemarie Terenzio, Julie Baker, Christina Haag, the late Billy Way, and Mary Richardson; she also knew RFK Jr for 30 years, as well as Kerry, Rory, and Max Kennedy. She also met Jackie Kennedy at John’s 30th birthday bash. Barbara also had dinner with Clint Hill, Jackie’s Secret Service agent with JFK, and his partner/co-author of “The Kennedy Detail”, Lisa McCubbin. Barbara commenting about the rumors of if she had started dating John after his breakup with Daryl Hannah and before dating Carolyn Bessette: “Absolutely not! That misinformation is a perfect example of why you can’t believe everything you read. I was not dating John in 1994-5; he was dating Carolyn, and we had all gone diving together in Honduras the year before. Some friends were weirdly possessive of John, and competitive about their relationship. Carolyn grabbed the gold ring, and won, so jealousy [was] not that surprising. And a wife can try to edge out friends... I had heard that John vehemently did not want to be unfaithful as he wanted a clear head in figuring out how to proceed with Carolyn. It’s all hearsay. Carolyn was very warm and generous with me until the point where she felt uncomfortable, and I know exactly when, where, and why that happened, and I don’t fault her for her feelings.” 

Barbara explained why Carolyn had cut her off, but not Julie Baker who had a close relationship with John: “Carolyn was not threatened by Julie - John must have explained why he and Julie were never serious, why he never would have married her. Carolyn didn’t know Julie to my knowledge, but she knew me, knew John liked me and respected me, and I was one of John’s “Ivy League” pals. She was very insecure with academic and intellectual topics - even games he liked to play - and would not join in. She would sit on John’s lap trying to distract him. This is difficult for me to say, but I think I was more of a credible threat in her eyes. John was extremely well-read and super-knowledgeable about history. He was much smarter than most people realized and had a very good sense of humor, which requires intelligence. I thought Carolyn was very smart and clever, but not well-read, and was just a bit out of her depth in the cultural literacy arena.“

Barbara Vaughn on John and Caroline Kennedy’s relationship: “There was a period where they were a bit estranged. Caroline knew that Carolyn was driving a wedge between John and certain groups of friends, and she called some to ask if they’d seen him. She was disappointed to learn that many had not. John called Carolyn’s abrupt cutting me off “a tempest in a teapot”, and said she’d get over it. Carolyn never reached out to me as she had in the past, but she was actually very warm when I’d run into her. “Hi sweetie!” she’d say as she would give me a hug hello.“

Interview with Blaine Applegate (a friend of Carolyn Bessette since college): “She wasn't blown away by John. Carolyn was casual when she spoke about John to her friends. She was more genuinely interested in others than she was of herself. I mean, not uncommon to see her, you know, roll out of bed and go to the dining hall in sweats and, you know, messed-up hair and no makeup. I mean, that was the Carolyn we knew, and that's the Carolyn that we'll all remember is just this regular gal who was an unassuming beauty. She would not have sacrificed her heart for a guy who wasn't gonna also give his heart to her. She was genuine. She wasn't a gold digger. She was just a normal person who wanted to have a relationship, a one-on-one relationship with somebody who would treat her with respect.”

Her care in avoiding the incessant media attention made some characterize Carolyn Bessette Kennedy as a reluctant hermit, holed up in the couple's TriBeCa loft, and she herself had pointed out that the invasion was close to total -- and sometimes genuinely threatening. "I thought it was kind of a joke at first," she told an editor at WWD. "I'd pick up the phone at work and there would be this guy calling from the National Enquirer, asking the most absurd questions: `Why did you beat up John in the park yesterday?' But then it just got bizarre. I realized that a lot of the photographers really didn't like me. They wanted me to do something wrong -- so they could photograph it. And when I fell in the street one day outside the apartment, these four or five guys just went crazy. Nobody helped me up. They just kept snapping." Carolyn had prided herself on not being an uptown girl. When she first came to New York, she moved to the East Village. "I used to step over drunks and crack dealers to get to my apartment," she remembered. "Everybody at Calvin thought I was crazy, but I couldn't imagine coming to New York and living anywhere else. Even with all the weirdness, I felt comfortable and I had fun."

Twenty-two years after the death of Carolyn Bessette and husband John F. Kennedy Jr., social media users celebrate Carolyn's signature spirit: "I think she would be amused and delighted," a friend says. Carolyn's influence lives on as a new generation celebrates her life in a variety of popular Instagrams such as Carolyn Iconic and CBK's Closet, which focus not only her unique fashions but her independent spirit. "A new generation has discovered her," says RoseMarie Terenzio, a close friend of both John and Carolyn. "Her style is not just about fashion but also the way she carried herself and her quiet confidence and her relatability... and I think that comes through. As private as she was, I think she would be amused and delighted and proud that her influence lives on." When financial analyst Mary Taylor, 23, wanted to learn more about Carolyn a few years ago, she says, "there weren't a lot of resources online. Definitely no Instagrams. So I thought if there aren't any accounts commemorating her style and her legacy, why don't I just do it?" Taylor's tribute page, created in 2018, quickly took off. 

Taylor makes it a point to also include stories and anecdotes beyond the wardrobe. "She was mysterious," she says of Carolyn, who worked as a Calvin Klein publicist before her death. "She had a big personality, was very creative and, by all accounts, a very loyal friend. More than being a super cool person fashion wise, she was a goodhearted person and I wanted to honor her legacy. A lot of people still care." George Carr, brother of Calvin Klein's onetime creative director Zack Carr, is a huge fan of all the social media accounts that celebrate her life. "Carolyn was the American and contemporary version of Audrey Hepburn," says Carr. "Zack was enchanted by her. She was his muse, the inspiration for thousands of his sketches. She had an all-American beauty. Not a model. Not an aristocrat. Not a celebrity. It was never contrived. Calvin [Klein] saw it immediately and so did Zack [Carr]." Source: people.com