HELLO AMERICA!—As another year rings in, it is overwhelming when suddenly you begin to remember some of the most significant happenings of the past, ones with which you were involved, events that helped to shape this great country. Certain happenings become a permanent fixture in one’s memory when one had a hand in it. For me it was circumventing the assassination of our then President, Lyndon B. Johnson.
Two years before the president made the announcement that he would not run for another term as president, I had been extremely busy as a west coast correspondent for TV Radio Movie Guide magazine as well as entertainment columnist for the World Wide News Syndicate. I was making appearances on radio and television shows reporting and discussing current hot news about the industry.
This, of course, caused an open door to most of the most famous, at times infamous people who populate the entertainment industry.
One day I received a call from an industry contact, Perry Paulding, who had always proven to be a very credible source. He was well-connected in the Los Angeles underworld.
Through him I had met many shady characters who were like maggots sucking the blood from industry, thriving on the sweat and dreams of people who only wanted to be in front of a camera. Perry was anxious for me to hook up with gangster, Mickey Cohen. Cohen was known to have a hand in stopping the murder of Sammy Davis Jr., rumored to be having an intimate affair with film star, Kim Novak. Cohen was also close with Frank Sinatra and a great supporter of Anna Kashfi, the tempestuous ex-wife of Marlon Brando.
Paulding somehow managed to get a brief role in “The Godfather,” a role he admitted getting because of certain connections. Now he was giving me a tip which might shake the nation, as had the murders of the Kennedy men and Martin Luther King. Without a doubt, this was something I could not take lightly or ignore.
The information involved the possible assassination of President Johnson. In a few days, he was scheduled to make a motorcade appearance at the Beverly Hills Century Plaza Hotel for a Democratic Party fundraiser. I had developed a good relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department through my syndicated column, I didn’t hesitate to call and inform my contact what I had learned. The response was immediate.
I was told the information would get to the right agency, and I should not worry because I had done the right thing. A few days later, the news featured the president arriving by helicopter instead of the previously publicized motorcade. This made me feel good, not only as a reporter, but as a concerned citizen. Like millions of people around the world, I was deeply affected by the murders of the Kennedy men. And to believe that I had a hand in circumventing another American tragedy provided the ultimate sense of achievement.
Sadly, a week later my informant Perry Paulding was found dead. He had been tied to the back of a car and dragged in the desert. The news intensified the reality of the kind of world in which I was working and living.