Florence Pritchett

Florence Pritchett

Florence Pritchett was born in 1920. After leaving school she worked as a model for John Robert Powers and appeared in Life Magazine. In 1940 she met and married Richard Canning. Soon afterwards she became fashion editor of New York Journal American, a journal owned by William Randolph Hearst.

In 1943 Florence divorced Canning. The following year she met John F. Kennedy. The couple spent a lot of time together. Betty Spalding said that for Kennedy, "Over a long period of time, it was probably the closest relationship with a woman I know of." However, because Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, marriage was out of the question.

In 1947 Florence married Earl E. T. Smith, member of the New York Stock Exchange. The couple had three children. In June, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Smith as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Cuba. FBI files reveal that over the next two years John F. Kennedy made more than a dozen visits to Cuba in order to meet Florence. Florence also met Kennedy in Miami and Palm Beach, where their homes were conveniently adjoined.

According to one account: "JFK would elude the Secret Service on occasion in order to have trysts with women. He did this in Palm Beach when he hopped a fence to swim with Flo Smith. The Secret Service agents couldn't find him and called in the FBI. They finally turned to Palm Beach Police Chief Homer Large, a trusted Kennedy family associate. The Police Chief knew exactly where to find Jack - next door in Earl E. T. Smith's swimming pool. Jack and Flo were alone, and as Homer put it, "They weren't doing the Australian crawl."

John Kennedy and Florence Pritchett at the Stork Club (Feburary 1944)
John Kennedy and Florence Pritchett at the Stork Club (Feburary 1944)

Earl E. T. Smith remained Ambassador to Cuba until 20th January, 1959. Afterwards he wrote about his experiences in his book, The Fourth Floor (1962). This included an account of the Fidel Castro revolution in Cuba.

Florence continued working as a journalist. She also became a television personality and appeared on programmes such as What's My Line? It was during this time she became friendly with the journalist Dorothy Kilgallen.

Florence Pritchett
Florence Pritchett

In 1965 Dorothy Kilgallen managed to obtain a private interview with Jack Ruby. She told friends that she had information that would "break the case wide open". Aware of what had happened to Bill Hunter and Jim Koethe, Kilgallen handed her interview notes to Florence Smith. She told friends that she had obtained information that Ruby and J. D. Tippit were friends and that David Ferrie was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

On 8th November, 1965, Dorothy Kilgallen, was found dead in her New York apartment. She was fully dressed and sitting upright in her bed. The police reported that she had died from taking a cocktail of alcohol and barbiturates. The notes of her interview with Jack Ruby and the article she was writing on the case had disappeared. Florence Smith, died two days later of a cerebral hemorrhage. Her son, Earl Smith III, said that she had been suffering from leukemia.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Florence Pritchett, Please Get Me Straight (July 1945)

Turnabout is fair play has been a much used and repeated expression, but when it finally happens to you, you are inclined to wonder what bright person decided this fact to be true! Every one has had the tables turned on him, if not sooner, then later, and found himself in the position of having the situation reversed, usually to his complete discomfiture.

The one saving grace of knowing that this may happen at any time, is the fact that even the best of us say, 'It can't happen to me.' Wishfully and foolishly we go on believing this until it does occur. Then we find ourselves literally flat on our backs with surprise. Since it did happen to me, I am going to be kind and warn you, so you'll not be as surprised as I was.

Oh, it was a simple quest that I started on, one that was clear in my mind, will all objectives outlined. All plans were worked out to the finest degree, so that everything would run off like clock work. Unfortunately, there was one element that I did not contend with... the element of Bob Walker's sense of humor, and that is what upset my applecart!

As you have probably already guessed in your quick perceptive fashion, my quest was to interview one Bob Walker, and find out what went on in his mind on various and sundry subjects. Being in the position of an interviewer, I had outlined briefly the ground I wished to cover, and in what manner. Then Mr. Walker strolled into the room, and the apples spilt all over the floor.

We were lunching at MGM and I had been eagerly awaiting his arrival for he was just finishing up work on 'Her Highness And The Bellboy' and they were about to break for lunch. Anxiously I sat there waiting for a shy and backward boy who stumbled mentally and physically, for like the rest of the movie-going public, I too had seen his inimitable portrayal of Private Hargrove. In my mind that was what I expected. Silly, wasn't it, as it turned out?

They said finally, 'here he comes now.' After one brief moment a slender boy in full dress with huge horn-rimmed spectacles on his nose came breathlessly into the room and peering at me said, 'How do you do?' and then sat down and peered at me some more. He started to talk for a minute about how the picture was going, and then stopped abruptly, turned on me, and began to interview me!

From then on for one hour during creamed chicken hash, three bottles of milk, and apple pie a la mode, Mr. Walker fired questions at me. Each time I would start to ask one of my questions, he would parry it with one of his. He confused me, and left me hanging in midair all the time. He asked me questions about things I didn't want to talk about and then would laugh when my face got a soft shade of pink in my embarrassment. This went on until the last five minutes before he had to go back on the set, and then like a crazy woman, I fired questions at him. Whether turnabout is fair play or not, I had a story to get.

(2) Dancy Pritchett Foster, interviewed by Joan and Clay Blair for their book, The Search for JFK (1976)

She was terribly good-looking. Five seven. Brown eyes, brown hair. Lots of girls were prettier, but she had so much personality. In her next to last year in high school, she went to see John Robert Powers and got a job as a Powers model. The minute school was over, she got on the bus and went to New York to pose. Her first photograph was a shaving ad in Life-the second issue, I think. I had a dull little job in New York by then and I married a magazine writer, Robert Leary.

Flo wanted to be part of the scene, to be somebody, do interesting things, meet interesting people. The modeling was the first step toward being somebody. Then she met Richard Canning, son of the bubble gum king. He was a Catholic, part of the McDonnell-Murray group in New York and Southhampton Prep schools, Georgetown University, all that. He was not enormously wealthy, but he could afford to drift in and out of the Stork Club every day, when he wanted to. She converted to Catholicism, and in 1940 they were married in Ridgewood. He went into the Air Force in Texas. By then Powers had started his modeling school and he put Flo in charge of fashion. She told the girls what "type" they were and what kind of clothes they should wear. She'd gotten to know Lorelle Hearst - wife of William Randolph Hearst, Jr. - and she spent many weekends at the Hearst place in Manhassett-great estates, twisty roads, big stone gates. She knew everybody: Brenda Frazier, who married the famous football player Shipwreck Kelly, and got to be very close with Robin Chandler Duke - Angier Duke's wife, who was then married to the movie actor Jeffrey Lynn. And she got to know Lorelle Hearst very well. Lorelle was woman's editor of the Hearst paper, the New York Journal American. She offered Flo a job as fashion editor.

Flo had outgrown her husband (still in Texas), so they decided to part. They were divorced around 1943 in Las Vegas. She did not let her religion handicap her. I'm not exactly certain when Jack and Flo first met, but I have a picture of them both, sitting at a table in the Stork Club, right after he got back from the South Pacific... From then on, they were good friends. I remember after she died, Lem Billings or Chuck Spalding said she was the one person who could always be guaranteed to make Jack Kennedy laugh.

(3) John J. Johnson, Florence Pritchett (28th July, 2004)

Jack Kennedy met Florence Pritchett when he was still in the Navy in 1944. Flo was good-looking, five foot seven, with brown eyes and brown hair. Lots of girls were prettier, but Flo had so much personality. In her junior year in high school, she went to see John Robert Powers and got a job as a Powers model. When school was over, she got on a bus and went to New York to pose. Her first photograph was a shaving ad in the second issue of Life magazine.

For Flo, modeling was the first step toward being somebody. She wanted to be part of the scene, to be somebody, do interesting things, and meet interesting people. She met Richard Canning, the son of a bubble gum king. He was a Catholic, so Flo converted to Catholicism, and in 1940 they were married in Ridgewood. Canning was not enormously wealthy, but he could afford to dine at the Stork Club every day. He went into the Air Force in Texas. By then Powers had started his modeling school and he put Flo in charge of fashion. She told the girls what "type" they were and what kind of clothes they should wear. Flo had gotten to know Lorelle Hearst, the wife of William Randolph Hearst, Jr. Lorelle was woman's editor of the Hearst paper, the New York Journal American, and she offered Flo a job as fashion editor. Flo spent many weekends at the Hearst place in Manhassett, a great estate with twisty roads and big stone gates.

By all accounts, the girl who stood highest with Jack was still Flo Pritchett, whom he saw in New York and Washington. Chuck Spalding said that Flo was the only person who could always be guaranteed to make Jack laugh. Chuck's wife Betty added that, for Jack, "Over a long period of time, it was probably the closest relationship with a woman I know of." But Flo knew better than anyone else that there would never be a marriage to Jack. Although Flo had converted to Catholicism to marry Canning, she was later divorced. Flo had outgrown her husband who was still in Texas, so they decided to part. They were divorced around 1943 in Las Vegas.

In Jack's appointment book for June 28, 1947 there was an entry in Flo's handwriting: "Flo Pritchett's birthday! SEND DIAMONDS." That day she was twenty-seven. Within a year she would be married again.

FBI files allege that during 1957-1958 Jack Kennedy made several trips to Havana, Cuba, to visit Flo Pritchett who was then married to millionaire American Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith and a strong supporter of Cuban dictator Batista. Other meetings took place in Miami and Palm Beach during Flo's visits to the States. Kennedy made more than a dozen trips to Cuba to see them and stayed at the Smith home. Seymour Hersh states that on one of these trips, the U.S. Embassy was told by Cuban police and military intelligence officials that Senator Kennedy was of concern to them "for security reasons." The Cubans reported that Kennedy was going to bed with the wife of the Italian ambassador and they would hate to have the young senator shot while on a visit to Havana. "You know those Italians," they said. An embassy official was assigned to tell Kennedy "to cut it out."

The Smiths also spent much time in Palm Beach, where their home conveniently adjoined the Kennedy house, and Kennedy saw considerably more of Florence. Several books have suggested that JFK wanted to send Earl Smith to Switzerland so he could have Flo to himself. This seems unlikely since Earl would undoubtedly have taken his wife with him. According to Earl, Kennedy wanted to appoint him ambassador to Switzerland, but Fidel Castro objected because the U.S. and Cuba no longer maintained diplomatic relations and Switzerland represented the U.S. in Cuba. Since Earl had been ambassador to Cuba under Eisenhower, Castro claimed his appointment to Switzerland represented a conflict of interest. So Earl's name was withdrawn, which was just as well because he didn't see eye-to-eye with JFK politically.

Lem Billings says, "Later there were stories of secret interludes between Jack and Flo, feverish encounters on the stretch of sand connecting their respective homes. Although I never personally witnessed any of these meetings, I don't for a second doubt that they occurred."

JFK would elude the Secret Service on occasion in order to have trysts with women. He did this in Palm Beach when he hopped a fence to swim with Flo Smith. The Secret Service agents couldn't find him and called in the FBI. They finally turned to Palm Beach Police Chief Homer Large, a trusted Kennedy family associate. The Police Chief knew exactly where to find Jack - next door in Earl E. T. Smith's swimming pool. Jack and Flo were alone, and as Homer put it, "They weren't doing the Australian crawl."

After he was caught in this encounter, Jack realized he couldn't be so blatant. Still, he was convinced that none of the Secret Service men, his pals, or the servants would ever say anything and, even if they did, no one would ever print it.

Flo Pritchett died of leukemia in 1965 at age forty-five.

(4) Thomas G Paterson, Contesting Castro - The United States & The Triumph of the Cuban Revolution (1994)

In the 1950's the Batista government vigorously promoted tourism as a hedge against the always precarious sugar trade. Fancy hotels with gambling casinos went up and U.S mobsters shared profits with government officials...

In search of rum, rhumba, and much, much more, some 300,000 tourists each year flocked to the island to partake in Cuba's bustling life of outdoor cafe's, bar's, nightclubs, brothels and casinos.

Like many other prominent Americans, the young Democratic U.S. Senators John F. Kennedy and George Smathers partied on the island. In December 1957, Kennedy and Smathers journeyed to Havana. They visited Ambassador Smith, a Kennedy friend from Palm Beach, and his wife and former model, Florence Pritchett Smith with whom the Massachusets politician had had a love affair some years before. The pleasure seeking senators apparently never discussed the rebellion, although Smather's, as he himself put it "had made a career of Cuban problems." Instead golf, sailing, nightclubs, and women occupied their time. Crime boss Meyer Lansky's widow claimed later that during that trip her husband helped locate women to satisfy Kennedy's now-famed sexual athleticism. "Kennedy wasn't a great casino man," remembered Smathers, "but the Tropicana night-club had a floor show you wouldn't believe."

(5) New York Journal American (15th November, 1965)

The death of Dorothy Kilgallen, Journal-American columnist and famed TV personality, was contributed to by a combination of moderate quantities of alcohol and barbiturates, a medical examiner's report stated today.

As many personalities whose multiple duties and responsibilities demand unceasing attention, Miss Kilgallen experienced recurring tensions in meeting her deadlines for performances - both as a newspaperwoman and TV performer.

In his report today, Dr. James Luke, Assistant Medical Examiner, said that although Miss Kilgallen had only "moderate amounts of each," the effect of the combination had caused depression of the central nervous system "which in turn caused her heart to stop."

(6) New York Journal American (9th November, 1965)

Mrs. Earl E.T. Smith, wife of the former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba and columnist of The Journal-American, died today in her apartment at 1120 5th Ave. She was 45.

Mrs. Smith, the former Florence Pritchett, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. She had been in ill health since mid-August, and only recently had been discharged from Roosevelt Hospital.

She and her husband were counted among the closest friends of the late President John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy. The Smiths often were included in the small intimate gatherings arranged by the Chief executive and Mrs. Kennedy during their years in the White House.

(7) David Welsh, Ramparts Magazine (November, 1966)

We know of no serious person who really believes that the death of Dorothy Kilgallen, the gossip columnist, was related to the Kennedy assassination. Still, she was passionately interested in the case, told friends she firmly believed there was a conspiracy and that she would find out the truth if it took her all her life.

Miss Kilgallen was the first to make public the existence of Acquilla Clemons, a witness to the Tippit killing whose name does not appear once in the Warren Report or volumes. She was also the only reporter ever to interview Jack Ruby privately since the killing of Oswald. During the Ruby trial, which she covered for the now defunct New York Journal-American, Judge Joe E. Brown granted her 30 minutes alone with Ruby in the judge's chambers; the other reporters were furious.

One of the biggest scoops of Miss Kilgallen's career came when she pirated the transcript of Ruby's testimony before the Warren Commission and ran it in the Journal-American. Thousands of New Yorkers were shocked at the hopelessly inept questioning of Ruby by Chief Justice Warren, by Warren's almost deliberate failure to follow up the leads Ruby was feeding him.

Miss Kilgallen died in her bed on November 8, 1965. Dr. James Luke, a New York City medical examiner, said the cause of death was "acute barbiturate (sic) and alcohol intoxication, circumstances undetermined." Dr. Luke said there were not high enough levels of either alcohol or barbiturates (sic) to have caused death, but that the two are "additive" and together are quite enough to kill. This cause of death, he observed, is not at all uncommon. Was it suicide? Accident? Murder? - Dr. Luke said there was no way of determining that.

As we say, Dorothy Kilgallen probably does not belong on any list of Kennedy-related deaths. But questions do remain. An editor of Screen Stars magazine, Mary Brannum, says she received a phone call a few hours before Dorothy's body was discovered, announcing that she had been murdered. Miss Kilgallgen's "What's My Line" makeup man said that shortly before her death she vowed she would "crack this case." And another New York show biz friend said Dorothy told him in the last days of her life: "In five more days I'm going to bust this case wide open."

(8) William Penn Jones, Volume II: Forgive My Grief (1967)

Tom Howard knew too much from Ruby and he knew too well how the Dallas power structure and Police Department worked. Howard had to die.

At the Ruby trial in Dallas during March of 1964, Dorothy Kilgallen had a private interview during one of the noon recesses with Judge Joe B. Brown. This was immediately followed by a thirty minute private interview with Jack Ruby in Judge Brown’s chambers. Even Ruby’s bodyguards were kept outside the Judge’s chambers. Joe Tonahill and others thought the meeting room in the jail was “bugged,” but it is doubtful if the Judge’s own chambers would be bugged. Judges have the power of contempt of court for such irregularities.

This then, was the second person Ruby had talked to who could know for whom Ruby was acting; therefore Miss Kilgallen had to be silenced along with Tom Howard.

Shortly before her death, Miss Kilgallen told a friend in New York that she was going to New Orleans in 5 days and break the case wide open. Miss Kilgallen 52, died November 8, 1965, under questionable circumstances in her New York home. Eight days after her death, a ruling was made that she died of barbiturates and drink with no quantities of either ingredient being given.

Also strangely, Miss Kilgallen’s close friend, Mrs. Earl E.T. Smith, died two days after Miss Kilgallen. Mrs. Smith’s autopsy read that the cause of death was unknown.

Many skeptical newsmen have asked: “If Miss Kilgallen knew anything, surely as a journalist wouldn’t she have left some notes?” This is a legitimate question. Possibly Mrs. Smith was the trusted friend with the notes. No one will ever know now.

(9) John Simkin, Florence Pritchett and the Kennedy Assassination (24th November, 2004)

There has been no investigation into the death of Florence Pritchett. Officially she died of a cerebral haemorrhage. Is it possible that she was murdered? Maybe it was because she had Kilgallen’s notes for her article on the Kennedy assassination. However, I think if she was murdered it might have been more about what she knew rather than what property she had in her possession. I believe that Florence Pritchett had been her main source of information on political issues connected to Kennedy. Not only because she was had been having an affair with Kennedy for nearly 20 years, but because she was the wife of Earl Smith, a leading figure in the anti-Castro community in Florida. Pritchett was ideally placed to know what had been going on during 1963. The greatest puzzle of all is why she was allowed to live as long as she did.

(10) Jonathan Wendland, Florence Pritchett (3rd March, 2005)

I would like to share some personal knowledge of Florence Pritchett. I have met her son, who is an underwriter for John Hancock Life Insurance. I'm starting a new topic because he says his mother's story is a dead end for Oswald researchers. I'd like to redirect people's attention to Dorothy Kilgallen. Nobody in her family has said that she is a dead end, and in fact one relative worked with Lee Israel on her research.

Earl Smith III, who works in the well known John Hancock skyscraper in downtown Boston, was 12 when his mother died. He has no siblings, and he spent those 12 years in a Manhattan apartment with his parents. So while he is the only surviving relative, in his childhood he was in a position to know what was going on.

Florence did not end up in a coma as Ms. Israel related in her post (to be fair she said she had read it online), but Florence was bedridden with leukemia for the last two months. She died at home. Nobody had invented the hospice in 1965.

Here are Earl's very words: "My poor mother died of cancer." His verbiage didn't become more emotional than that, but can you imagine what it's like to lose a mother when you're a 12-year-old only child ?

Moreover, Earl insists that Dorothy Kilgallen never entrusted the dying Florence Pritchett with any documents. In addition, Florence was not a hard news reporter. Her only contribution to Kilgallen's newspaper (the Journal American) was a kitchen recipe in the Sunday edition. Titled "The Mood And The Food," her column provided the recipe and some local color about the fancy party or restaurant where she had obtained it. In her final column the theme was picnic lunches. She participated in a picnic at Richard Avedon's photography studio.

Mr. Simkin has assumed that Pritchett was Kilgallen's source on column items about Fidel Castro and Cuba, but we'll never know that. Earl says it's possible Florence fed her things in 1959, but he has no way of knowing. Florence absolutely did not know any secrets about Castro, Cuba or anything else during the last two months of her life.

Earl Smith II (father of the insurance underwriter) and his wife Florence did know the Kennedys, but all we know is that they socialized formally. The Smiths visited the White House, and both couples hobnobbed in Palm Beach.

A photograph posted by Mr. Simkin proves that the young senator Jack Kennedy knew Florence either before or during her first marriage (Earl was number 2), but Fidel Castro was a kid then.

One final note to Lee Israel. In your recent post you state correctly that Penn Jones originated the entire saga of "Mrs. Earl T. Smith" and her connection to the assassination. Older Dallas - area residents know that Penn made many errors in his 1960s Midlothian Mirror articles and that he suffered from Alzheimers during the last 15 years of his life. The 1991 Life magazine pictorial about Oliver Stone's revival of JFK ran a huge color photograph of Penn standing in front his a shack where he lived without a telephone. He lived there with Elaine Kavanaugh Jones, a researcher he married in the 1970s. She stood by him until he died. Neither admitted that the old Midlothian Mirror articles were sloppy and erroneous.

More than three years after Mr. Jones introduced "Mrs. Earl T. Smith" to researchers, he said in the Mirror that Bobby Baker's secretary Carole Tyler once shared an apartment with Mary Jo Kopechne, therefore both of them were murdered.

If Penn Jones was so cut off from New York City news in 1965, how did he even know who Florence Pritchett Smith was or that she worked for Kilgallen's newspaper ? He could have gotten it from Time and Newsweek. Each gave her one paragraph in columns titled respectively "Milestones" and "Transitions." They said she worked for the New York Journal American.

Penn Jones probably knew who Dorothy Kilgallen was when she was alive, but he could not have been familiar with "Mrs. Earl T. Smith" concurrently. Earl Smith III really would like it if people stopped fantasizing that his mother held dangerous secrets at the time of her "homicide." As for Kilgallen's family, they never reply to letters about Dorothy. Son Kerry made an exception shortly after he opened his "Martial Hearts" business in 1991. He told a phone inquirer that after the Israel book was published he decided to move on with his life and to stop speculating about his mother's career. He wants to remember her as a mother.

(11) John Simkin, Reply to Earl Smith III (4th March, 2004)

There are several issues raised by the posting about Earl Smith III views of his mother.

(1) “Her only contribution to Kilgallen's newspaper (the Journal American) was a kitchen recipe in the Sunday edition.”

In fact, on 9th November, 1965, the New York Journal American reported: “Mrs. Earl E.T. Smith, wife of the former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba and columnist of The Journal-American, died today in her apartment at 1120 5th Ave. She was 45.” In fact, Florence had been fashion editor of the newspaper during the Second World War.

(2) “Earl insists that Dorothy Kilgallen never entrusted the dying Florence Pritchett with any documents.”

As Earl was only 12 years old at the time it is difficult to know how he can be so sure about this.

(3) “Mr. Simkin has assumed that Pritchett was Kilgallen's source on column items about Fidel Castro and Cuba, but we'll never know that. Earl says it's possible Florence fed her things in 1959, but he has no way of knowing. Florence absolutely did not know any secrets about Castro, Cuba or anything else during the last two months of her life.”

Earl admits that it was possible that Florence might have given information on Castro to Dorothy. He then adds “Florence absolutely did not know any secrets about Castro, Cuba or anything else during the last two months of her life.” How can he be so unsure about 1959 but so positive about 1965.

(4) "Earl Smith II and his wife Florence did know the Kennedys, but all we know is that they socialized formally. The Smiths visited the White House, and both couples hobnobbed in Palm Beach."

Of course they were much more than friends. JFK met Florence in 1944. The couple spent a lot of time together. Betty Spalding said that for Kennedy, "Over a long period of time, it was probably the closest relationship with a woman I know of." However, because Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, marriage was out of the question."

According to several books, JFK had a sexual relationship with Florence for 19 years that was only brought to an end in 1963. See for example:

Ralph G. Martin, A Hero for Our Time: An Intimate Story of the Kennedy Years (1993)

David C. Heymann, A Woman Named Jackie (1989)

Blair, Joan, and Blair, Clay Jr, The Search for J.F.K. (1977)

Nellie Bly, The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal and Secrets (1996)

Nigel, Hamilton, JFK: Reckless Youth (1992)

Stephen Birmingham, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (1969)

(5) “In your recent post you state correctly that Penn Jones originated the entire saga of "Mrs. Earl T. Smith" and her connection to the assassination. Older Dallas - area residents know that Penn made many errors in his 1960s Midlothian Mirror articles and that he suffered from Alzheimers during the last 15 years of his life.”

It is the first I have heard the news that Penn Jones was suffering from Alzheimers during the time he was writing about the JFK assassination. This sounds like a typical CIA disinformation campaign. I would be interested in how you know this.

It is indeed true that Penn Jones was the first person to link the deaths of Dorothy Killgallen. He wrote in Volume II: Forgive My Grief (1967):

“Shortly before her death, Miss Kilgallen told a friend in New York that she was going to New Orleans in 5 days and break the case wide open. Miss Kilgallen 52, died November 8, 1965, under questionable circumstances in her New York home. Eight days after her death, a ruling was made that she died of barbiturates and drink with no quantities of either ingredient being given.

Also strangely, Miss Kilgallen’s close friend, Mrs. Earl E.T. Smith, died two days after Miss Kilgallen. Mrs. Smith’s autopsy read that the cause of death was unknown.

Many skeptical newsmen have asked: “If Miss Kilgallen knew anything, surely as a journalist wouldn’t she have left some notes?” This is a legitimate question. Possibly Mrs. Smith was the trusted friend with the notes. No one will ever know now.”

What is interesting about this is that Penn Jones did not appear to know who Mrs Earl Smith was. If he did, he did not write about it. I am sure he would have been fascinated to know that she was Florence Pritchett, the woman who had been having an affair with JFK for 19 years. Nor did he know that she was married to the ambassador of Cuba (1957-59) who had been involved in the plots to overthrow Fidel Castro.

As far as I am aware, the true identity of Dorothy Kilgallen’s friend "Mrs Earl Smith" was not discovered until an exchange of postings by James Richards, John Johnson and myself on the JFK Research Forum in July 2004.