Rumors of her demise were greatly exaggerated.
We've featured the Canadian tabloid Midnight numerous times. This one appeared on newsstands today in 1968. On the cover readers get a headline referring to Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated the previous month. His name is accompanied by a prediction that his killer, Jordanian nationalist Sirhan Sirhan, would in turn be assassinated. It wasn't an outrageous prediction—during the late 1960s newsworthy figures were being dropped like three foot putts. Sirhan was never murdered, though, and he's still around today, languishing at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California.
Sirhan is an interesting character, but it's the story on Susan Denberg we're interested in today. Denberg, née Dietlinde Zechner, is a German born beauty who became a Playboy Playmate of the Year and screen actress, was a desired Hollywood party girl who had relationships with Hugh Hefner and Jim Brown, and was generally regarded as one of the major sex symbols of her time. But she also became a drug addict. After making the 1968 film Frankenstein Created Woman Denberg returned to Europe and shunned the movie business. In fact, she kept such a low profile that for years sources incorrectly reported that she had died.
Midnight journo John Wilson claims to have visited Denberg in a Vienna mental hospital near the beginning of her self-imposed exile, and his article is basically a recounting of his chat with her. He describes her depressing surroundings and portrays her as a sort of broken bird, quoting her as saying, “I was a real party girl, going out every night, dating one man after another, running around doing wild things like getting drunk and dancing nude at parties. And then someone got me started on LSD and it made everything seem so clear. It was wonderful. Only I couldn't keep away from it, and after a while that was all I was doing, staying in my room and dropping LSD.”
In 1971 Denberg had a child, and by 1972 was making her living on the nudie bar circuit, working as a topless server at the adult cinema Rondell in Vienna, and later dancing fully nude at another Vienna nightspot called Renz. She also worked elsewhere in Europe, including Geneva, where in 1974 she tried to commit suicide by swallowing a reported 200 sleeping pills, an amount that surely would have been fatal had she not been quickly found and sped to a hospital. In 1976 she became a mother again and retired from nude dancing. Today she lives quietly in Vienna.
Denberg's story is filled with twists and turns, and yet it isn't unique in a place like Hollywood. As she makes clear, once enough power brokers, modeling agents, and studio types tell a woman she's special she's probably going to believe them, but once she believes them it's hard for her to keep her head on straight. She sums up her journey to Midnight, “They told me I was beautiful enough to go all the way to the top. They told me about all the fun up there, the kicks. They never told me about the booze and the drugs, the long slide down.”
Nothing impresses a girl like nice hard rod.
Jack Ruby was a nightclub owner, which of course meant he knew many women. After he shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald several formerly obscure or mildly famous women became widely known for their associations with Ruby, including Gail Raven, Candy Wells, and Candy Barr. This cover of National Star Chronicle from yesterday in 1964 shines the spotlight on another Ruby acquaintance—Tammi True. Born Nancy Myers, True danced at Ruby's Dallas nightspot the Carousel Club. She kept her career under wraps, but when Ruby shot Oswald she was identified as a Ruby associate and her anonymity evaporated. National Star Chronicle is one of many tabloids that delved into True's life.
Is its headline about her touching the gun that killed Oswald factual? Well, Ruby was arrested at the scene of the shooting. The only time True could have touched the gun was before the murder. Ruby always carried a weapon because he always had club receipts on him, so it's very possible he let True handle it at some point, but True has never confirmed the story. The main reason we tend to doubt it is because she has always been vocal about how angry she was to be outed as a stripper. Before the shooting only her friends and family knew she danced. We can't imagine her sitting down and giving Chronicle an interview. But you never know. See more from National Star Chronicle by clicking here or here.
Mercocomic re-imagines one of the darkest periods in American history.
A long while back we shared a Spanish cover of the Mercocomic publication Kennedy and mentioned that a series of six appeared in 1977. The same comics were also published in French, so today, inappropriately, we’re sharing those six covers from France with their excellent if unsettling art by Prieto Muriana. Mercocomic published serials of other well known figures, among them Che, Hitler, Mussolini, Don Juan Tenorio Garcia, and Quijote 78. None are strictly factual accounts, but rather re-imaginings of the circumstances and motivations that drove important historical episodes.
Kennedy, as you can probably guess from JFK’s exit on cover one and Lee Harvey Oswald’s dispatching on cover two, deals with events leading all the way up to RFK’s assassination, with the proceedings generously sprinkled with the sex, drugs, betrayal, and hyperviolence you’d expect in an adult comic. Years ago when we first ran across Kennedy you could download all six. Not anymore. But they’re still available for purchase online at reasonable prices and then friends can question your taste for buying them. Luckily that isn’t a problem for us—most everything we own is tasteless.
Police Gazette gets readers up to date with Ava Gardner but it’s their Castro story that leads someplace interesting.
Above are a couple of scans from an issue of The National Police Gazette published this month in 1963 with cover star Ava Gardner. Gardner had been living in Spain and hadn’t been in a movie in three years, but was about to appear in the historical war drama 55 Days at Peking with Charleton Heston and David Niven. The Gazette discusses how she’d gotten fed up with the U.S.—particularly the American press. She had been particularly annoyed by the rumor that she was involved with Sammy Davis, Jr., a story that took flight after several magazines published photos of the two holding hands. When asked why she was returning to Hollywood after being out of circulation for so long, Gardner, in typically blunt fashion, replied, “I need the money.”
Moving on, we’ve pointed out that the Gazette made a longstanding habit of using Adolf Hitler on its covers, but his wasn’t the only face that moved magazines. After Fidel Castro assumed leadership of Cuba, the Gazette regularly wrote scathing stories about him. We’ve already learned that he let Viet Cong killer squads train in Cuba, and that he planned to “arm southern Negroes” in order to foment revolution in the U.S. Well, now we learn he was also a rapist. Figures, right? He might have been supreme leader of an island filled with beautiful women, but people always want what they can’t have—in this case, a teenaged ship captain’s daughter named Lisa. Gazette writer Bob Hartford cranks up the melodrama:
Castro laughed drunkenly as he weaved his way into Lisa’s sitting room.
“Have you changed your mind, my pet?” he demanded.
“No,” replied the brave but frightened girl.
All Castro needs at that point is a Lacoste sweater and a fraternity paddle and his transformation into pure evil would be complete. But as fanciful as the story seems, Lisa really did exist. Her real name was Marita Lorenz and she was Castro’s live-in mistress for several months in 1959. While Lorenz herself never suggested she was ever raped by Castro, the two did have a falling out around the issue of her unplanned pregnancy, which was terminated in its sixth month. Lorenz later said the abortion was forced on her while she was drugged; Castro’s associates claim that she wanted it. Lorenz went on to join anti-Castro activists in the U.S., and on a fundraising visit with the deposed Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, became involved with him. She was still traveling to and from Cuba, and was recruited by the CIA for a Castro assassination attempt. But instead of poisoning his food, like she’d been instructed, she abandoned the plot, supposedly because she still felt strongly for him. Lorenz later wrote about all this in two autobiographies.
In 1977, Lorenz told the New York Daily News that she met Lee Harvey Oswald in autumn 1963 at a CIA safe house in Miami. She claimed she met him again weeks later along with a group of anti-Castro Cubans and they had Dallas street maps. We all know what happened next. Lorenz eventually testified about this before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, but her story was deemed unreliable. We suppose bouncing between two dictators and acting as a double agent will tend toraise a red flag with American congressmen, though these things have no bearing on whether she was telling the truth. It’s interesting though, isn’t it? You’d think that if a single man of his own accord assassinated another man the surrounding circumstances wouldn’t be so… labyrinthine. Yet lurking near the supposed black swan event of the Kennedy killing were double-agents like Lorenz, spooks like E. Howard Hunt, underworld figures like Eladio Ceferino del Valle and others. Just saying. In any case, we’ll have more from the Police Gazette and more on Fidel Castro soon.
National Enquirer digs into JFK’s assassination.
Above is a cover of National Enquirer published today in 1967 with a headline informing readers that three days after identifying the photo of an alleged conspirator in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a man named Eladio Ceferino del Valle was found dead in Miami. Good thing his photo is from a distance, because he had been severely beaten and shot in the chest, and his head had been chopped open. He died the same day another alleged Kennedy conspirator named David Ferrie died in New Orleans. Ferrie had two suicide notes next to him, but a coroner ruled the cause of death to be a naturally occurring aneurysm.
Enquirer scribe Charles Golden perhaps goes off the rails a bit in trying to tie Kennedy’s assassination to Fidel Castro. He brands del Valle a Castro double agent who pretended to flee Cuba just before the revolution, but who was working for Fidel the entire time. Golden then claims that “key investigators feel Castro’s higher-ups used homosexuals for the assassination,” the significance being that David Ferrie was gay and del Valle was bi-sexual. Golden tosses off this doozy on page two of his story: “Sexual deviation is taking on special importance as new evidence comes to light in the assassination probe.”
But even though Golden seems to let his own prejudices color his reporting, he does cite some interesting facts. Eladio del Valle’s and David Ferrie’s deaths occurred just as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who was investigating Kennedy’s assassination, was planning to drag them into his probe. Eladio del Valle died three days after being contacted by Garrison, and Ferrie’s death came just days before Garrison planned to arrest him as part of his investigation. If all this sounds like the plot of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, that’s because it basically is. But if any of it sounds untrue, it isn’t—it’s all public record. And if any of it sounds a bit crackpot, well, let’s just flip that term on its head, shall we?
Routine site maintenance uncovers two different types of scams.
If you live in the U.S, today you’re probably celebrating Thanksgiving, maybe watching some football. But people where we live don’t know from Thanksgiving, so with nothing else to do today we decided to go back through some of the old posts on the website to make sure all the external links were still working. Interestingly, we noticed that the first two dead links cycled around for a few moments, then sent us to functioning pages that had nothing to do with the original articles. For instance, a link in our post on Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin sent us to the front page of The Huffington Post. Is having dead links on your website now the equivalent of leaving your sunglasses in a restaurant? They’re okay to steal because they’ve been temporarily forgotten? Well, not in our universe. In the next couple of days we’re going to ferret out all the dead links on Pulp Intl. and redirect them to relevant content. We’d be surprised if there are even half a dozen, but we’ll fix them
Second thing we noticed—this happened earlier this week—is that on a couple of auction sites there are sellers offering Pulp Intl. scans as photographs. How do we know they’re ours? Well, we’d love to say it’s because nobody else has these pieces of art, but clearly, someone else could have acquired them too. No, we know because we retouched the scans and the alterations are still there. When Pulp Intl. content is reposted on a blogspot or tumblr, that’s more people sharing rarely seen art, which is a good thing, plus it helps our traffic. But when someone takes images from a website and sells them as original photos, that’s low. The Christina Lindberg image above is one of the ones we found, and it came from our post here (we won’t link to the auction because that’ll just turn into another dead link in a few days). So the lesson is caveat emptor, people. Now enjoy that turkey.
In the aftermath of tragedy, a widow experiences historic generosity.
This National Enquirer from today in 1964 tells readers the story of Marie Tippit, the widow of J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald the morning of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In the year since, Mrs. Tippit had received a lot of money. The cover text might make you think she's referring to life insurance benefits, but actually she’s talking about cash donated to her by sympathetic Americans. The total was $647,579, which would be about $5 million in today’s money. $25,000 of that came from Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed JFK’s assassination. The amount he gave was almost 15% of what he received for selling the film. If you find it hard to imagine this non-cynical outpouring of generosity today, join the club. But thanks to National Enquirer, we’re reminded of an earlier America, and given an interesting historical footnote to the events of that day in Dallas.
The National Insider takes the hatchet to Marlon Brando with the help of his ex-wife.
This issue of the tabloid The National Insider from today in 1965 gives us Lee Harvey Oswald’s military background, Jayne Mansfield’s thoughts on abortion, and Madelyn Murray’s views on religion. But all those pieces are trumped by the excoriating hatchet job on Marlon Brando written by his ex-wife Anna Kashfi. She reveals that Brando slapped her, tried to bully her into giving up her acting career, and never forgave her for being less than forthcoming about her eastern Indian ancestry. She also slams Harry Belafonte for lying to her to cover for the time Brando spent wooing the French actress France Nguyen. Kashfi had a lot to get off her chest, so much that Insider featured her revelations in four consecutive issues, basically turning her into a guest columnist complete with byline and inset photo. She must have really gotten an appetite for this kind of writing, because in 1979 she published the book Brando for Breakfast, which is still regarded as one of the most shocking tell-alls ever written. In that one she claimed Brando had sex with a chicken. For the love of God, cock-a-doodle-don’t.
How do you turn fiction into fact? Leave it to mainstream journalism.
An item came across the wires today that we found quite interesting. Seems Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin is being auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions of Los Angeles, CA. The reality of the auction certainly shows that there’s nothing that isn’t for sale, especially in America, but that isn’t what caught our eye. We first read about the event thanks to Hugh Collins of AOL News, and double-checked what we read by visiting several other news outlets. The pieces we encountered demonstrated not only the incredible laziness of mainstream journalism, but also the mechanism that keeps a myth in place in spite of fierce pushback from the public at large.
In the AOL article, for instance, Collins doesn’t refer to Oswald as the person arrested for Kennedy’s assassination. That would have been accurate. No, he instead refers to Oswald as the person “believed” to have killed Kennedy. Now, as we pointed out in our recent post on Oswald, the actual truth is that he is believed to have been part of a conspiracy. Depending on which survey you read, up to 81% of Americans think there’s something fishy about the official account of that sad day in Dallas, and that number was 52% in 1963 when Gallup conducted its first poll on the subject just days after the assassination.
That means proponents of the official theory have never been in the majority. So how does all that translate in Collins’ mind to Oswald being “believed” to be Kennedy’s killer? Is it possible it’s because this is simply what he believes? Maybe, but more likely, he didn't bother to check what people actually believe and neither did his editors.
The problem here is a reader with doubts about the official assassination story might have read Collins’ piece and had those doubts put to rest, for today at least. They might have thought, “Oh, since I’m in the minority on this one, I guess I’ll just keep my mouth shut so I don’t look like a crackpot.” Are we saying the conspiracy theorists are right? Not at all. What we’re saying is there’s a point at which you have to stop pretending people are crazy, and address the issues involved with intellectual honesty.
With half of Americans having questions about this crime back in 1963, and up to 4 in 5 having questions today, we’re well past the level of snide dismissal with Kennedy. The mainstream press cannot, with any level of professional integrity, equate doubters with people who believe in extraterrestrial cow mutilations, the healing power of crystals, or a flat Earth. Disbelievers of the official Kennedy story are the vast majority, and those without doubts are the tiny minority, so maybe lets start referring to these groups properly, m'kay?
Oh, and nice coffin, by the way. Bidding for this grisly treasure starts at a grand, for those who have a ghoulish bent and some spare cash laying around. But before you bid we gotta be serious for a sec—having said all of the above, if you buy this filthy old box it's very possible that you actually are a crackpot.
Americans still have a few nagging doubts about who pulled the trigger on John F. Kennedy.
Polls conducted in the last ten years indicate that 70% to 75% of Americans do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald, seen above in a photo taken while he was in the U.S. Marine Corps, acted alone when U.S. president John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas in 1963. A March 2010 Gallup poll tells us the number might be as high as 81%. These are astounding percentages when you consider that reaching a higher level of agreement in a poll is nearly impossible. For perspective, consider that according to a 2005 article by New York Times journalist Cornelia Dean, only about 80% of Americans believe the Earth revolves around the sun.
Such overwhelming belief in a Kennedy conspiracy is easy to understand when reading the many contradictory accounts of the event. But filter out all the white noise and what attracts attention are the statements of two people who were highly respected—if not revered—in their fields. First, Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who was laying atop Kennedy to shield him as the limousine drove away from the scene of the shooting, testified that the President had a five inch diameter wound behind his right ear, indicating the exit of a bullet that had struck from the front. Other witnessess observed this too, but Hill was closest—literally inches away.
Second, Marine gunnery sergeant Carlos Hathcock testified that, utilizing the same rifle as Oswald, and shooting from the same range and angle and with the same weather conditions, he was unable to duplicate Oswald’s feat, even after multiple tries. Why is that significant? Because Hathcock was one of the best riflemen in the world, the winner of multiple shooting championships and a guy who in Vietnam documentably notched a kill from a distance of 1.42 miles. Oswald was a “marksman”—the lowest Marine designation for rifle qualification.
So what happened that day in Dallas when America lost a president? Was it Oswald who fired the fatal shot or someone else? We don’t know. We are not particularly what you could call "conspiracy theorists" around here. But we are realists, and realistically speaking, conspiracies exist in droves. That's why in federal court there are such charges as "conspiracy to commit wire fraud," and "conspiracy to commit murder." Oswald was well before our time, which makes him a historical curiosity for us, rather than a visceral part of our personal history. But looking at the case from afar, we certainly understand belief in a conspiracy associated with Kennedy's murder.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.
1961—Bay of Pigs Invasion Is Launched
A group of CIA financed and trained Cuban refugees lands at the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro. However, the invasion fails badly and the result is embarrassment for U.S. president John F. Kennedy and a major boost in popularity for Fidel Castro, and also has the effect of pushing him toward the Soviet Union for protection.
1943—First LSD Trip Takes Place
Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, while working at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, accidentally absorbs lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, and thus discovers its psychedelic properties. He had first synthesized the substance five years earlier but hadn't been aware of its effects. He goes on to write scores of articles and books about his creation.
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