Don's Blog

Clay Shaw/Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw/Dueling Voices/I Lost It at the Beginning/101 Reasons Not To Murder The Entire Saudi Royal Family/He Knew Where He Was Going (?)

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Clay Shaw and Oliver Stone

 In my book Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw, I discuss in great detail the case against Clay Shaw in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as well as provide the most complete account of Clay Shaw's life ever produced.

After laying dormant for almost 23 years after Shaw's acquittal in 1969, Oliver Stone's film JFK in 1991 re-ignited intense interest in Clay Shaw and his possible involvement in JFK's assassination.

Now, three decades later, Oliver Stone has again produced a film, this time a documentary, that apparently make some of the same assertions. I haven't seen it yet, and based upon the reviews I have read, I am not rushing to see it. However, I am a fan of Oliver Stone's moviemaking abilities, and I do intend to see it eventually.

Based upon repeated viewings of JFK, and upon my own research, I have long doubted that Oliver Stone truly believes that Clay Shaw had any role in the JFK assassination. His movie JFK has, if one watches and listens closely, many scenes and statements that give away, so to speak, the great weaknesses in the case against Clay Shaw. Those included highly suggestible witnesses and prosecutorial shenanigans, as well as contradictory accounts by the major witnesses.

But Oliver may be in too deep to publicly change his position. I thought at one time there was a chance of that, but I'm no longer sure-far from it. I do urge openminded individuals to see the documentary and make up their own minds. Perhaps, over time, Oliver will come around. I couldn't think of a more talented filmmaker suitable for correcting the record.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Why Did Perry Russo Recant His Trial Testimony

 I recently answered an inquiry regarding Perry Russo's recantation of his trial testimony. This was in response to an explanation given by a leading conspiracy (and pro-Jim Garrison) theorist.

I cover this in quite some detail in my biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw.

Of course, some would maintain that Russo's testimony at trial was weak at best, and I don't disagree. He contradicted stories he had initially given to investigators from Jim Garrison's office, as well as to several reporters who interviewed him before he emerged as a "key" witness (really, the witness) in Clay Shaw's prosecution.

Two years later, Russo refused to testify at a prominent Federal court hearing about Shaw's pending prosecution for perjury; Russo instead took the 5th Amendment. He then met secretly on four occasions from January-April 1971 with Clay Shaw's lawyers and investigators, essentially recanting the most damaging parts of his trial testimony, but not doing so while under oath in an open court hearing.

Russo had to be coaxed a bit into fully recanting, and at times he seems to give off the impression that he is simply weary of the whole thing, ready to put it behind him. I mentioned this in my book, although I believe the weight of the evidence, taking into account all the versions Russo told about Clay Shaw, indicates that he never saw Clay Shaw engaging in the makings of a conspiracy.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

New Account of Clay Shaw and the Jim Garrison Investigation Released

 A new book, Cruising for Conspirators: How a New Orleans DA Prosecuted the Kennedy Assassination as a Sex Crime, has just been released. It is about Clay Shaw and the Jim Garrison investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Written by Alecia Long, Ph.D., a faculty member at Louisiana State University and a resident (I believe) of the New Orleans area, I have posted the link below.

I met Dr. Long about a decade ago, and over the years I have always felt a confidence in the quality of her judgement, her passion for deep research into original documents, and the wide scope of her historical interests.

I have not read the book yet, and it appears to be a different focus than my own biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw. That book was a detailed biography of Clay Shaw that went into great detail about all facets of his life, including large portions analyzing the Jim Garrison investigation and the related litigation involving Clay Shaw.

At any rate, I urge readers of the blog to check out the link below and give the book consideration as part of the total picture of Clay Shaw. After years of superficial books that seemed to recycle quotes from other books, it is nice to see more authors diving deep into the case. The amount of material concerning Clay Shaw that has survived is somewhat staggering, and it does take quite an effort to go through it (or anything close to most of it).

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Clay Shaw and the Actress Kay Francis

Clay Shaw knew the actress Kay Francis, who was a big film star during the first half of the 1930s. Her career plateaued during the second half of the 1930s, and declined from there forward. She struggled with alcohol and Rx drug issues and died at a relatively early age during the 1960s.

While researching Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw, I was told by at least one person that Shaw knew Francis, but I never resolved the facts of how they met, and how well they knew each other.

I recently found a website that summarizes entries from diaries that Kay Francis kept for decades. Those summaries reveal that Francis, who traveled frequently and widely in those years, had been to New Orleans in the late 1920s where she pursues a romantic (or physical) relationship with another woman. The affair didn't last long, and it is unclear whether she knew Clay Shaw that early.

However, an entry from 1953 revealed that Francis visited with Clay Shaw (and others) on a visit to New Orleans. Perhaps the actual diaries reveal more detail. They are located at Wesleyan University.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Clay Bertrand character in Early Novel

 A number of people who have read one of my early novels, I Lost It At The Beginning, have asked about the Clay Bertrand character in that novel. Specifically, how the character relates to the real-life Clay Shaw.

The passages were written during the spring and summer of 1994, at a time when I was toying with the idea of a full biography of Clay Shaw. My interest in that biography ultimately resulted, in 2013, in Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw, the most complete biography of Shaw ever written.

Since the novel was based in Louisiana, in an unspecified location some distance away from New Orleans, I got the idea of working the mysterious Clay Bertrand character into the fabric of the story. I never intended that the character represented the real-life Clay Shaw, but I did make him look like Shaw (in contrast to Dean Andrews's ever-shifting descriptions of Bertrand), and kept much of the elusiveness of the idea of Bertrand. I thought the ide came across well, and was very neatly integrated into the larger story.