“Why can’t I be the adorable one?” Dorothy Kilgallen
It’s doubtful many of you have heard the name Dorothy Kilgallen. The shame of it is you should have. Moreover, if born in the right generation, you couldn’t wait for Sunday nights at 10:30.
Groundbreaking journalist, TV legend, and hard as nails crime investigator, Kilgallen was generations and decades ahead of her time. If not for her, Harrison Ford wouldn’t have a hit in The Fugitive.
Kilgallen’s testimony is the reason Dr. Sam Sheppard received a new trial for the murder of his wife, and ended up released from prison. Forensic advancements years later proved Kilgallen was right in her deductions of Sheppard’s innocence.
She dissected crime reports and testimonies like a skilled surgeon. Her abilities amazed millions, yet she wanted more. She wanted to be the girl next-door people loved for being adorable, cute. However, her wit, her intelligence, and her honesty with a pen in her weekly column read by millions earned her powerful enemies that were cruel in their retaliation.
When Dorothy did a series on Frank Sinatra in the 1950s and spoke of his egocentric personality, he fought back by calling her a chinless wonder in his nightclub acts. He couldn’t argue the facts of her reporting, so he attacked her on a personal level.
In the 1960s she sunk her teeth into the JFK assassination. She ripped the Warren Report to shreds, had a rumored interview with Jack Ruby, and was about to publish her findings when she was found dead in her bed—the file with all her findings—missing. On the nightstand were two glasses, though her husband slept in another room. The sleeping pills in her stomach—Three different kinds. It was ruled an accident from the mixture of alcohol and pills.
The journalist surgeon with a pen was dead.
The lady who became famous by traveling around the world in 24 days back in 1936, when she was 23, for a contest amongst three reporters and newspapers, never understood the adulation she had. Maybe it was in part due to her philandering husband.
On the panel game show juggernaut of the time, What’s My Line?, Kilgallen wanted to be the adorable one, but couldn’t match the personality of Arlene Francis, the darling of Broadway who had a show on all three networks at the same time, and performed in Broadway shows. What she did instead was guess more professions of contestants than anyone else.
From beginning to end, Dorothy Kilgallen was an untypical woman in a world not ready for her. On the other hand, maybe she didn’t realize the world was happy with who she was, regardless of when it was.
She may not have been the perfect person, friend, or wife, but she was dedicated to her field. And she was unmatched.
This is one of my favorite quotes of hers.
“I think sometimes it is more important to be gracious than to win.” Dorothy Kilgallen
This is my contribution to Colleen Chesebro of SilverThreading.com’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday. For those participating in the #BeWoW movement of positive posts, you may leave your links in the comments below, or do a ping back to this post if you wish. Use the hashtag #BeWoW on Twitter to help your posts receive RTs from others.
Ronovan Hester is an author, with a debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of writing, authors and community through his online world has led to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge, Weekly Fiction Prompt Challenge, and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.
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