Wednesday, 27 September 2023 17:56

Mark Shaw Insults Allen, Texas: Part 2

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Marilyn Monroe expert Don McGovern examines what Mark Shaw advertises as a key piece of evidence about Bobby Kennedy. Under Don's microscope, it turns out to be a lot less than Shaw advertised.

Two years ago, in a slightly agitated aftermath of reading Mark Shaw’s then new publication, Collateral Damage, I wrote a lengthy and critical review of his literary effort. I published that review on my website Marilyn From The 22nd Row; and Jim DiEugenio kindly published the review on his fine website, Kennedys and King. Recently, a video presentation that Shaw delivered at the Allen Public Library in Allen, Texas, appeared on my YouTube feed. Reluctantly, I watched and created a transcription of his presentation, primarily a commercial for his book. I was not quite as agitated by his Texas presentation as I was by his book; but that fact notwithstanding, in the name of historical and factual accuracy, I am compelled to offer a few comments.

The first half of Shaw’s presentation focused on Dorothy Kilgallen. Shaw’s fanboy fascination with the star of What’s My Line crossed, at some point in time, into a goofy type of worship that approximates a goofy form of idolatry leading Shaw to engage in hyperbole. According to Shaw, Dorothy was quite possibly thegreatest journalist who ever lived […] Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley rolled into one.Shaw realized that Dorothy had, in fact, achieved the big time because the producers of The Flintstones featured her in an episode broadcast in 1961.And you know you’ve made it, Shaw opined, when you’re on a Flintstones episode. According to Shaw, Dorothy appeared in “The Little White Lie,” the title of the episode, as Dorothy Kilgranite. Not so. She appeared as Daisy Kilgranite, just one of several errors Shaw made regarding the Flintstone episode. Admittedly, it is possible that I am making a mountain out of a cartoon mole hill; but considering the errors Shaw made regarding a twenty-six minute cartoon, readily available for his review, is there any wonder that he made more than a few egregious errors regarding the complicated life of a person as complex as Marilyn Monroe?

In my lengthy criticism of Collateral Damage, I identified most of Mark Shaw’s errors, but not all of them. I could list them here; but I think the better approach is simply to provide links to my original evaluation of Shaw’s publication: Marilyn From The 22nd Row; link to Kennedys and King.

Still, there are a couple of assertions made by Shaw during his video presentation that I need to discuss directly: 1) the big clue that Shaw allegedly discovered; and 2) Shaw’s assertion that Collateral Damage does not contain any ofhis opinions or speculations.

The Big Clue. What follows is what Shaw asserted:

[…] this is the big clue. What did I do here? Well, I was in trouble because I wanted to show that Bobby could have been involved in Marilyn’s death but he wasn’t in Los Angeles at the time. He had an alibi. He was in the San Francisco area, OK. But I just couldn’t believe that he was and so I started looking into things and I found this ledger [security log]at 20th Century-Fox. […] what does it say? That at 11 o’clock on August 4th, 1962, the same day that Marilyn died, Bobby Kennedy and Peter Lawford arrive in a helicopter there. Alright. So he’s in Los Angeles […].

With the preceding, Mark Shaw clearly took credit; claimed that he and only he uncovered a document, an August the 4th Fox security ledger or log, which proved that Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford landed at the studio in a helicopter at 11 AM; proved that the Attorney General was in Los Angeles; and by extension, this ledger proved that Robert Kennedy visited Marilyn on August the 4th and that he was, therefore, involved in her murder. But, and there always is, how did Collateral Damage report the explosive big clue?

In his book, Shaw reported that Bobby had what appeared to be an airtight alibi, one which placed him in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time Marilyn died. Shaw even referenced an Associated Press story confirming that Robert, Ethel, his wife, and four of their children arrived in San Francisco on Friday afternoon, August the 3rd. He even admitted that the Kennedys traveled to the Bates Ranch. Even so, as he also admitted, Shaw did not believe any of the eye-witness, first hand testimony provided by the Bates family and others present that weekend. Shaw did not believe that the ten photographs taken throughout the day, published by Susan Bernard in 2011, proved anything about Robert Kennedy’s location on August the 4th. Shaw did not believe the AP story or a 1985 NYT interview with the senior John Bates, referenced by Shaw, which confirmed that the attorney general never left the Bates ranch. Instead, Shaw accepted the mysterious security log and the testimony of one Frank Neill.

According to Shaw, the actual security log read as follows:

Before 11 a.m. on August 4, 1962, a helicopter landed at the Twentieth Century Fox studio’s helipad near Stage 14. Studio publicist Frank Neill, working that Saturday morning, said he saw Robert Kennedy jump out of the helicopter and rush to a dark gray limousine waiting nearby. Neill said he got a glimpse of movie star Peter Lawford, brother-in-law to the Kennedys, sitting inside.

To begin with, in his Texas presentation, Mark Shaw asserted that both Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford arrived at Fox’s lots in a helicopter on August the 4th. The alleged security log, on the other hand, indicated that the attorney general arrived in a helicopter while his brother-in-law, Peter Lawford, waited in a nearby limo, a clear contradiction. Which account should we accept as factual?

Additionally and obviously, the form and wording of the security log strikes the reader as a bit odd. Clearly, a person other than Frank Neill recorded what the studio publicist allegedly said; therefore, who actually wrote down what Neill said? Shaw’s big clue was actually hearsay.

Why was it necessary to include that Neill was a studio employee; and, by the way, who and what was Frank Neill?

While I was a practicing architect, I encountered many security offices and security logs at corporate offices, large building material manufacturers and security trailers at fenced, and sometimes guarded, construction sites. Usually, the exact time of one’s arrival had to be recorded. The indefinite arrival time stipulated in the text of the alleged security log confused me. Before 11 AM? Also, usually a precise purpose for one’s visit had to be declared on a security log, something omitted from the Fox log. Moreover, completing a security log is usually only required when a person actually enters secured areas. But evidently, Robert Kennedy never entered the actual Fox lot; at least, that is, Shaw’s log was rather vague on that particular point. The Attorney General entered an awaiting limo which then quickly drove away. Would this necessitate an entry in a security log? And when companies require security clearances, they issue a security badge to visitors and they require the visitor to return to the Security Office, to log out--to enter a precise departure time and to return the security badge. Shaw’s mysterious security log did not include a log out time.

Finally, the wording of this security log surprised me. Security logs that I’ve encountered required brevity; but the text of Shaw’s security log read more like an excerpt or a description that was lifted, borrowed from a larger narrative.


Hoping to resolve at least some of the preceding issues, and answer some of my questions, while also identifying Frank Neill and clarifying his association with Marilyn Monroe, I spent several days reviewing more than a few pertinent publications. Within the text of Collateral Damage, Shaw was particularly laudatory about one biography, Marilyn: The Tragic Venus, written by Edwin P. Hoyt. Shaw wrote:

Published in 1965, Hoyt’s biography of Marilyn was released at a time when facts about her life and times and death were not polluted with phony sensationalism, as would be the case with many articles and books in the future. His account certainly appears credible due to the large number of primary sources […] (85).

I began my review of books about Marilyn with Edwin Hoyt’s biography: Frank Neill did not appear therein. In fact, two decades would elapse before Anthony Summers, in his Marilyn pathography Goddess, would finally mention Frank Neill. According to Summers’ 1985 source notes, Marilyn’s Irish pathographer actually interviewed Frank Neill. From the source notes:Landing at Fox: int. Frank Neill, 1983, and former policeman on pension, who requires anonymity. According to Summers:

Two fragmentary reports, one from a police source, one from a former member of the Twentieth Century-Fox staff, Frank Neill, suggest Kennedy arrived in the city by helicopter, putting down near the studio's Stage 18, in an open space then used by helicopters serving the area near the Beverly Hilton. According to these sources, the President's brother arrived in the early afternoon (350).

Summers’ 2012 update of Goddess repeats the preceding account verbatim; and nowhere in either version of Goddess did Summers even mention a security log! Also, Summers did not provide any biographical information regarding Fox’s former staff member, Frank Neill; and once again, we have encountered a few contradictions.

According to Summers’ account of his interview with Frank Neill, the President’s brother did not arrive during the morning: he arrived in the early afternoon. Shaw’s alleged security log stated that Robert Kennedy’s whirlybird landed on a helipad near Stage 14 while Summers reported that the helicopter put down near Stage 18 in an open space […] near the Beverly Hilton. Why the contradictions? Besides, if Frank Neill was involved in the preparation of a security log in 1962, why oh why did he fail to mention that to Anthony Summers during their interview in 1983?

In 1991, James Spada published The Man Who Kept the Secrets. This was a Peter Lawford biography, sprinkled liberally with the spice of Marilyn and the Kennedys along with many yarns pronounced by the pathological fantasists, Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen. Spada’s literary effort reported the following account:

Frank Neill, a former employee of Twentieth Century-Fox, later stated that Bobby arrived by helicopter at a landing pad near the studio’s stage eighteen, which was often used by the Beverly Hilton Hotel for that purpose. A confidential police source supports this story(353).

Not quite identical to Summer’s account but eerily similar. Perhaps the similarity can be explained by Spada’s following admission in his source notes: I drew many of the details of Marilyn Monroe’s last few months from Anthony Summers’s superb investigatory biography of Monroe, Goddess (533). In short, James Spada simply rephrased Summers’ account.

With the passing of two years, in 1993, Peter Brown and Patte Barham published Marilyn: The Last Take. The first mention of a security log appeared therein. The authors reported:

On Saturday afternoon, August 4, a Fox security guard squinted through the morning fog to catch a glimpse of the huge government helicopter that hung in the sky above the studio. Waving a fluorescent orange flashlight, the guard directed the chopper toward some hastily drawn landing marks. […] The chopper had been approved to land at just after 11 A.M., as duly noted in the studio’s security log. A dark grey limousine was parked to the side, its driver standing at attention. Studio publicist, Frank Neill, whose office was near the landing pad, wasn’t surprised to see the familiar figure of Bobby Kennedy leap from the helicopter and dash to the limousine. […] Through the open door, Neill caught a glimpse of the carefully tanned face of Peter Lawford(349-350).

In Brown and Barham’s account, their huge government helicopter landed just after 11 o’clock in the morning; and it landed on what was evidently a makeshift, hand drawn landing target, not a helipad. However, the authors must have been confused regarding the landing time: if the chopper landed just after eleven in a morning fog, how does “Saturday afternoon” fit in? Be that as it may, the authors’ source notes contained the following curiosity: The helicopter landing on the Fox lot was discussed by Robert Slatzer and Lee Hanna, who heard of it from Frank Neill (465). Evidently, Brown and Barham did not actually interview Frank Neill. The authors received their information from either the ubiquitous Robert Slatzer or Lee Hanna, a person with whom I am unfamiliar. If Brown and Barham did not interview Frank Neill, how did they know he was not surprised by the presence of Bobby Kennedy? Well, they could not have known.

But here is what I find truly odd. If Slatzer knew that Robert Kennedy had landed on Fox’s lot in a helicopter, why did he withhold that information from Anthony Summers during all the interviews the author allegedly conducted with one of his primary sources? I reviewed Slatzer’s 1974 publication, The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe. There, Slatzer did not mention Kennedy’s arrival by helicopter. Slatzer mentioned Frank Neill with regard to topics unrelated to the topic of this article and asserted that he had met Neill in 1952 on the sets of Niagara. In Slatzer’s The Marilyn Files, published in 1993, Frank Neill likewise appeared with regard to topics unrelated to the topic of this article. Also, Slatzer thanked Neill, and many others, for their invaluable contribution over the years (n9). Slatzer left their contribution unspecified. I can only conclude that their invaluable contribution was their assistance with Slatzer’s masquerade as Marilyn Monroe’s faux second husband.

Several additional publications that I reviewed did not invoke the name of Frank Neill, and several did. Donald Wolfe’s The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe, published in 1998, and his 2012 update, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, presented the following account:

Early Saturday afternoon, the roar of a helicopter echoed off the sound-stage walls at the Fox studios. A Fox security guard squinted into the bright blue sky as it began its descent into the heliport near Stage 14 […]. As noted in the studio’s security log, the helicopter had received approval to land shortly after 11 a.m. A dark gray limousine waited in the shade as the helicopter touched down in a whirl of dust. Studio publicist Frank Neill, who was working on the lot that Saturday, […] was surprised to see Bobby Kennedy leap from the helicopter and dash to the limousine. As the limousine door opened and Bobby jumped in, Neill caught a glimpse of Peter Lawford (564).

Wolfe magically transformed the chopper’s landing spot from an open space with some hastily drawn marks, not into just a helipad, but a full scale heliport. The landing transpired in different weather conditions than those mentioned by Brown and Barham. Obviously, Wolfe preferred to have the chopper land under a blue sky in bright sunlight, not a morning fog. And while in the Brown and Barham account, Neill was not surprised to see Bobby Kennedy, in Wolfe’s account the appearance of Bobby did surprise Neill. How did Wolfe know about Neill’s surprise? It is clear that Wolfe did not actually interview Frank Neill. According to his source notes pertaining to page 564: Roar of a helicopter: Summers, p. 350; Brown, p. 303. It is also clear that Wolfe combined the accounts in Goddess and Marilyn: The Last Take to create a hybrid that included a security log which Anthony Summers, who actually interviewed Frank Neill, did not mention.

Finally, fifty years after Marilyn’s tragic death, Darwin Porter published Marilyn at Rainbow’s End. In Porter’s seamy literary effort, the author transfigured Frank Neill into an implied authority on Fox’s security:Frank Neill, a security guard at Fox,Porter declared, said he saw Bobby arriving by chopper at the helipad on the studio’s lot, which was often used by the Beverly Hilton Hotel for their VIPs (457). But Porter did not mention a security log.

Returning to the questions that I posed earlier in this article, who and what was Frank Neill and what was his actual association with the world’s most famous blonde actress? Well, Neill was either a former newspaperman, a former police reporter, a garden variety Fox publicist or a unit publicity man for the film Niagara. Not one publication that I reviewed clarified who or what the man actually was, and not one of those publications clarified his association or relationship with Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, my efforts to determine the who, what and why of Frank Neill proved to be futile. I could not even locate an obituary.

So, this question remains: did Mark Shaw uncover--did he and only he discover a mysterious security log or ledger which proved that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles on Saturday, August the 4th in 1962? Most certainly he did not. Many other writers have mentioned that mysterious security log; and Shaw did not offer any real proof that the log actually existed. He, like all the sensationalistic conspiracist writers before him, did not publish the actual log. And he did not display a photograph of it during his Texas presentation. A fact which leads me to conclude that he did not and does not possess the security log; and that fact leads me to the real difficulty with Shaw’s assertion.

Considering that the log was created in 1962, virtually six decades prior to the publication of Collateral Damage, is it even remotely possible that such a document would have been retained by 20th Century-Fox, retained for fifty-nine years? Would such a document have survived to see the 21st century? Speaking only for me, of course, I think not. Taking into consideration all the contradictory accounts regarding the mysterious log, taking into consideration that the actual log has never been published, never been seen, I cannot stretch my gullibility, my credulity quite that far. Speaking only for me, of course, I do not believe Shaw’s story. In fact, I do not believe that the mysterious security log ever existed. I must repeat once again: Shaw’s ledger, the security log, the alleged document has never been published. What Shaw presented in Allen, Texas, was an amalgamation of the many stories written about Robert Kennedy’s whirlybird arrival at Fox studios, an arrival witnessed by a shadow named Frank Neill. Based on actual facts, based on firsthand testimony of persons who were with Bobby that Saturday and based on documentary evidence, we know that the Attorney General was not in Los Angeles on Saturday, August the 4th.

And finally, to put a period on this philippic, Shaw’s contention that Collateral Damage did not contain any of his opinions or speculations just might be the most absurd conceit uttered by the self-proclaimed Marilyn historian. The text of Shaw’s publication is filled with opinion and speculation; it is also filled with innuendo. For example, on page 562, Shaw wrote:

Basically a coward in the ilk of his father, RFK would never have had the guts to poison Marilyn on his own initiative. That meant he had, it would seem, two choices: either enlist operatives to do it or engage through an intermediary, perhaps Greenson of Engelberg to do it for him. […] RFK, either on his own or through intermediaries, could have “squeezed” Greenson […] into becoming an operative in the death of Marilyn.

In Shaw’s goofy world, the preceding does not qualify as speculation. Truly amazing.

I could present many more examples of Shaw’s opinionating and speculative prowess. But the most incredible example begins on page 613, Shaw’s contrived scenario of how Marilyn was possibly murdered, a scenario that is gross speculation of what most likely may have happened to Marilyn during the night of August the 4th.

Accosted by two intruders sent by the attorney general, with the president’s approval, asserted Shaw, and stunned with a chloroform-sealed cloth, Marilyn was either dragged or carried into her bedroom, stripped, deposited nude on her newly carpeted floor and callously murdered by a rectal infusion of drugs using a bulb syringe of some sort. The attorney presented absolutely no evidence to support his contrived scenario; and Shaw excused his lack of evidence as follows:

Of course, as with any theory like this based on circumstantial evidence after so many years have passed, questions will be asked, with answers unfortunately speculative in nature. […] Such observations about Marilyn’s death provide a stop-and-think, food-for-thought considerations as to how Marilyn met her maker and by whose actions […]. If Robert Kennedy’s complicity in Marilyn’s death, through whatever means, had been exposed, causing him to be charged in a court of law, there would never have been a JFK assassination by RFK’s enemies in 1963(624).

There was not, and there is not, one shred of actual evidence proving that Robert Kennedy was romantically involved with Marilyn Monroe, or that he was involved in any way with her death. In fact, the available evidence proves that actress and attorney general were not involved romantically. Further, Marilyn’s autopsy proves that she was not killed with some sort of bulb syringe: she ingested the drugs that killed her.

Mark Shaw’s gross speculation that John Kennedy’s assassination could have been prevented by bringing charges against his brother for killing Marilyn Monroe is absolute nonsense of the most preposterous sort. Perhaps Mark Shaw should have stopped and thought before writing a book like Collateral Damage. Perhaps he should have asked a few more questions, like he admonished his video audience to do, before putting his pen to paper.

Go to Part 1

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 September 2023 18:10
Donald McGovern

Don McGovern is a retired architect who lives in Memphis, TN. He is an enormous Marilyn Monroe fan and the author of the bookMurder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death, a comparative analysis of the many books written about Marilyn’s alleged murder. Even though he has written a book about her and read one-hundred and twenty-two books about Marilyn’s life, he has other interests as well: guitar, drums and old movies.

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