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The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,133 ratings  ·  246 reviews
On November 8, 1965, millions of fans of What’s My Line? CBS television star, Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist and crack investigative reporter Dorothy Kilgallen were shocked when she was found dead in her NYC townhouse. The autopsy report concluded she accidentally died of an “Acute Ethanol and Barbiturate Intoxication: Circumstances Undetermined.”

Despite an apparently
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Post Hill Press
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Start your review of The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen
I really wanted to love this book. I mean really. It combined some of my favorite things, conspiracy theories, the Kennedy assassination, the mob, mysterious deaths, gossip, and celebrity. That should have made for a great book, but....NOPE!

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much was boring, meandering, boring, pointless, and did I mention boring. This book is boring.

I'm done. I don't ever want to see this book again.

2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Book published by a micropress.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
A scary whodunit about the confounding makes-no-sense death of journalist-TV star Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-65) who refused to stop reporting on the JFK assassination, and, unwisely, told the world she was ready to crack the case. Then she was found dead, age 52, in her NYC townhouse -- dead in the wrong room, posed in bed with her fake hair and eyelashes still on. She had a prescription for Seconal, but two other more deadly drugs (Nembutal, Tuinal) were found in her blood, along w a lot of alcoh ...more
I remember listening to “What’s My Line” on radio in the early 1950s and then watching it on T.V. This book is primarily about Dorothy Kilgallen’s (1913-1965) death but Shaw does give a brief summary of her life. While I was reading this book, I stopped and looked up information about the author to help me determine how much belief I should put into the information. Mark Shaw is a criminal attorney and is a media legal analyst. At the time of the writing of the book, he worked for ABC, CNN and U ...more
James Crabtree
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I started out REALLY liking this book, as the author has done a good job talking about Kilgallen, an exceptional investigative reporter and entertainer during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. However, with the assassination of President Kennedy she decided that the Warren Commission and the justice system were doing their jobs. She was, as I said, an accomplished journalist and perhaps she did have a file that she took with her to the set of What's My Line (where was it when she was on-camera?") but how ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kudos to Mark Shaw! I, personally, have been waiting for this story to come out and was thrilled to find it when searching on Amazon. The author supplies facts and then reviews them with a fine tooth comb in later chapters. Some would find this redundant. While I didn't 'get' his writing style at first, once I understood his points, and his substantiating of facts it all 'fell into place'. This is an ABSOLUTE must read for those curious to know what happened not only to the fabulous Dorothy Kilg ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: celebrity-bio
This is a tough one to review. I was itching to read this prior to it's release as I've been a long time fan and admirer of Dorothy Kilgallen's since I discovered What's My Line? when I was in college. I also love diving into anything surrounding the JFK assassination; and I do love a good conspiracy theory. The first half of this book was fantastic. I couldn't put it down as it told the story of Dorothy's rise to become one of the most important figures in journalism. Once Mark Shaw started in ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, 2017-wom
The author makes a good case that in all likelihood Dorothy Kilgallen was murdered for information she had on the Kennedy assassination. I keep an open mind but I have always thought there was a lot more to the JFK assassination than what was reported. Old man Kennedy had screwed over the Mafia and Bobby was busy going after them but it never made sense to me that Ruby was able to shoot Oswald in a county jail with cops all around. Ruby seemed like he was a sleaze and not the type to be so incen ...more
Janet Miles
Interesting read but I would have serious problems with the editor. Lots of typos and the author's use of adjectives leaves something to be desired IMHO. If you can get past that, you'll probably enjoy it.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review of The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen must begin with a disclaimer (and add another one later). The reviewer is too quick to see conspiracy by tying the slimmest of threads together. Although finding myself less skeptical than I once was about the assassinations of the Kennedys, there is still a great deal of discomfort in my mind about the inadequacies of the Warren Commission Report and the belated release ...more
David L. Scrip
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding investigation.

Shaw's investigation into a cold case from a half a century earlier is exhaustive. Shaw reveals that Kilgallen was a great news reporter.Her investigation of JFK assassination and her interviews with Oswald's assassin Jack Ruby led to her mysterious death.
Kasa Cotugno
Early promise didn’t deliver. That’s all I can say.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In essence, this is a story of the life and death of Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965), who, during her lifetime, earned a reputation as one of America's toughest, most saavy, fearless, most respected, and best investigative journalists. She was also widely popular as a panelist on the highly rated TV show, 'What's My Line?'

Mark Shaw also sets out to establish that Kilgallen's death was not accidental as has been commonly believed. Indeed, according to him, "[i]n all likelihood, the timing of Dorot
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read “Murder One” & Lee Israel’s “Kilgallen” and was very happy to see this book. There is so much info and a website to check out. It's so obvious that she was murdered. Very powerful folks silenced everyone concerned.

She apparently was an incredibly gifted investigative reporter. She loved what she did and didn’t notice she was in a traditionally male field. She asked the right questions, noticed details, and wasn’t afraid to persist. I did wonder why she didn’t pursue Marilyn Monroe’s
May 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I also wanted to like the book, but did not. Could have been been much better with some editing, both for content and length. I read the Kindle edition and also found quite a number of what I call typos, not sure whether they exist in the dead tree text or not. Many of the errors were distracting because they were errors not of spelling, but grammar errors of case, number, reference and gender so that I had to reread a paragraph to try to make sense. Ultimately unsatisfying.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-movies, history
"Justice is a big rug. When you pull it out from under one man, a lot of others fall too." -- Dorothy Kilgallen

As a huge fan of What's My Line (seriously, go to YouTube and watch any episode--they're amazing), a long overdue book and focus on just what happened to Dorothy. At the time of her death, WML had 25 million people tuning in on Sunday nights (for compare, Sunday Night Football/Big Bang Theory averages about 18 million now). Dorothy Kilgallen's column was syndicated in over 200 newspaper
Shabra Bendrix
Jan 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Intriguing subject obscured by dreadful editing & writing

I was turned on to the story of Dorothy Kilgallen after watching the film "Can You Ever Forgive Me,” the story of late writer Lee Israel, portrayed with shambling verve by Melissa McCarthy. Curious about Israel, a down-on-her-luck writer who turned to forging letters of dead celebrities in order to pay her bills, I read up on her and her pre-criminal career. One of her books was a biography of Kilgallen. It is hard to find, but Mark Shaw’s
Joseph J.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: conspiracy theorists, those interested in organized crime and 1950's-60's culture
Shelves: february-6
As A kid I recall Dorothy Kilgallen on What's My Line. This book details her background as a crime reporter, New York columnist and overall celebrity. The focus is on her dogged pursuit into the Kennedy assassination via her coverage of the Jack Ruby trial. Her suspicious death is the climax of her investigation. Did her digging inflame the wrong people? This book will strongly appeal to conspiracy theorists, those interested in organized crime and anyone interested in the post World War II cult ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Since I became addicted to watching What's My Line on Youtube-I mean the old version from the fifties and sixties- I have become interested in the panelists and stars that appeared on the show.

Dorothy Kilgallen was a well-known reporter back then, although obscure today. What intrigued me, though, was that she died from a barbiturate and alcohol overdose. Nowadays that doesn't surprise us at all, since famous people not only make no effort to appear decent, but actually try to seem even more out
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Reporter Who Knew Too Much is a true crime murder mystery. Mark Shaw, the author, is an investigative reporter, legal analyst, and a former criminal defense attorney.

The reporter who knew too much is Dorothy Kilgallen. This book covers the life and the suicide/murder of Dorothy Kilgallen. She was born in 1913 and died in 1965. Ms. Kilgallen was a brash investigative reporter and a regular on What's My Line.

Dorothy Kilgallen wrote stories for Journal-American about Frank Sinatra, the Mafia,
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I adore Dorothy Kilgallen and investigative journalism. I have no specific interest in JFK assassination theories.
Book needs an editor and a proofreader. I speed read through it to see items of interest because painful to see typos and repetition. I do appreciate author's appreciation of Dorothy and believe he did his best.
Example of poor proofing: At the top of each page it says THE REPORTER THAT KNEW TOO MUCH, which irritated my small brain constantly. THAT? Then I looked at the cover and the
David L.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is firstly, 2 incredible and well-researched stories: first the ascension of Dorothy Kilgallen, daughter of a well-respected newspaper reporter, from cub reporter at age 17 to a highly accomplished investigative journalist, national celebrity reporter, and the bona fide star of the TV show What's My Line. Ms. Kilgallen elevated the status of women in journalism by sheer talent as a true wordsmith and a bloodhound's unerring nose. She started with Hearst newspapers and became so popular ...more
Cheri Vause
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, history
Fascinated by JFK's assassination and Oswald, I try to keep up with any new information coming out about the investigation. This book is another in seeing The Warren Report as a coverup, led by J. Edgar Hoover and LBJ's encouragement. Something other than what has put forward actually happened. This latest book actually hits closer to the bull's eye than all the others. Kilgallen was murdered, that is a fact, but by whom is still a bit murky.

My only objection to this book is it's a bit redundant
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I remember Dorothy Kilgallen from my youth. I loved watching her on "What's My Line" and sometimes listened to her radio show. In general, I liked her work but had no idea of her passion for investigative journalism or her private life. At that time public figures were not as public as today and I did not read gossip journalism.

This book is a study of the investigations into Kilgallen's death and possible cover-ups of the cause of death. Kilgallen was investigating the deaths of John Kennedy and
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having been an investigative and courts reporter myself, Dorothy Kilgallen was the best. A great read.

I'd give it five stars, but the editors at Post Hill Press did a very sloppy job proofreading. I was also bothered by the small size of many of the graphics. The author did not always provide text explaining what was in the graphic or print in the book's text was was in the graphic, expecting the reader to review the content him/herself in these poor images.
Joe Boenzi
I learned of this publication when I saw an interview on an internet podcast. I remember the subject, Dorothy Kilgallen, as a panelist on "What's My Line" -- a game show that was broadcast in the early years of television. In fact, of all the persons on that show, Dorothy Kilgallen was my favorite -- and I'm talking about watching that show from the age of 8 until 13, with my family on Sunday nights. I also remember reading of Miss Kilgallen's death in the newspaper (San Francisco Examiner) in N ...more
Tom Stamper
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The central weakness of the book is that Dorothy's story is tangential to the author's previous book that relies on his hypothesis that the mob killed JFK. Therefore, a lot of what is taken for granted here depends on your embrace of his other assertions about the mob. I haven't read the previous book so I feel a little blind coming into this although I have always felt the mob link was the strongest of the conspiracy theories around JFK.

To the author's credit he doesn't stick strictly to the J
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who shot and killed JFK; Local strip club owner Jack Ruby shot and killed LHO to save Jackie Kennedy the stress of a trial; Jack Ruby sticks to his story until he dies in jail a few years later...or so most people believe. There are plenty of conspiracy theories that point to multiple gunmen and possible involvement by the Cubans, the mob, the FBI, etc. Dorothy Kilgallen was a serious reporter, journalist, columnist, TV star who was nationally known and reco ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
While in the midst of binge-watching 1950s episodes ofWhat's My Line on YouTube, I did a web search for Dorothy Kilgallen, one of the show's regular panelists during its original seventeen-year run on CBS. I had watched the show as a kid in the 1960s, so, seeing the shows from before I was born was fun, and while it's likely that Kilgallen was a panelist when I watched as a kid, I wasn't familiar with her beyond her appearances on the show.

That she was a news reporter of some note was interestin
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I wrote an entire master's thesis on the press coverage (or its lack) of the Kennedy assassination, I had given the matter up as part of history that we would never fully know. The probable murder of journalist and early feminist Dorothy Kilgallen, along with the probable murder of Marilyn Monroe, were events that I thought would never be brought to light, but this book shows how Kilgallen was hot on the trail of conspirators and began with the establishment of Jack Ruby as the key char ...more
Julie J. Campbell
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
For those who said it was a boring read-- try listening to it as an audio book - ideally while you're working on something repetitive (painting, stapling, taking things apart, etc). It's actually a pretty interesting story. Besides-it's true crime, not King/Clancy/Patterson's latest spellbinding blah blah blah. Day to day life and interactions with people you know are generally mundane, even for famous people.
I think it's pretty clear that Dorothy Kilgallen was murdered, and that her determinati
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

A former criminal defense attorney and legal analyst for USA Today, CNN and ESPN, Mark Shaw is the author of 25 books and counting. His most recent is "The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen." Additional books include "The Poison Patriarch,

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