WEIRDLAND: Collateral Damage: Mark Shaw’s Public Atrocity

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:

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