To the editor:
Those of you who have read Flashback: The Untold Story of Lee Harvey Oswald (Lewcorn Productions: Roseburg,OR 1993) by Ron Lewis (who was one of many consultants to Oliver Stone in the making of JFK), will have noted brief reference to Priscilla McMillan, whom Lewis corresponded with. In a letter to Lewis, Mrs. McMillan encouraged him to write his book, especially if it could "...contribute to the understandive (sic) of Oswald...," even though she felt it "...would probably not bring (Lewis) any happiness." Lewis described McMillan as a "...former Kennedy employee who had interviewed Lee Oswald when he was a defector in the Soviet Union, and later wrote the Marina Oswald biography, entitled Marina and Lee." (p. xiv)
Lewis also received some assistance from Priscilla in locating a prospective publisher. His manuscript was accepted by the Doe Coover Agency in Medford, Mass., but "...after much consideration, it was decided the manuscript needed additional work." (p. 241)
In early 1992, Lewis began working for Oliver Stone at Ixtlan (which he described in his book), and received a letter from Stone dated April 14, 1992 indicating that he was not able to "...finance books, movies, documentaries, etc., but I like your book and wish I could find a publisher. I tried, but right now, if Bill Schaap and Ellen Ray won't take it, I can't think of anyone who would take that chance. Can Larry Howard do anything?" (A copy of this letter was sent to me by Lewis when I questioned his credibility, along with a Sept. 13, 1992 memo from Stone's assistant, Azita Zendel, providing a one-paragraph endorsement of Lewis' self-published book.)
In the epilogue (p. 264), Lewis again made reference to Mrs. McMillan, whom he had been warned by certain Dallas researchers "...was a CIA agent who had hindered their investigations by holding up the Marina Oswald biography for many years. They felt she did this on orders from her superiors." However, in her letter to Lewis dated Dec. 6, 1991, Priscilla emphatically denied any connection to the CIA, stating: "No, I never worked for the CIA, and no, I didn't hold up my book on anybody's orders." (Lewis described her as "...my friend, and I feel empathy for her because of the unkind things the Dallas community of researchers said about her. Needless to say, I do not share their sentiments, and Priscilla's eventual contribution is invaluable.") (p. 264)
Quoting again from the same letter, Priscilla also described "...one of the dark spots in my life," making reference to an unnamed researcher, who "...had pestered her for years about this." Lewis implied it was a researcher from Dallas, although I learned in correspondence with him earlier this year that Priscilla was referring to me. The "dark spot" in her life was related to my periodic letters which began in October, 1987 - none of which she has ever responded to (except for a short note dated Feb. 6, 1990, along with the return of my 76-page manuscript - which she presumably read - requesting that I not contact her again "...in any way." She also kindly sent me a copy of her original 1959 published article for NANA dealing with the defection of Oswald, after I spoke to her again two years later.)
In an apparent attempt to discredit me, Priscilla indicated to Lewis that "The one time I talked to him over the phone, he got everything wrong, wrote an article based on what I had and hadn't said, but it's against my principles not to talk to people since I've made my living on their willingness to talk to me, but in this case I'll make an exception from now on." (Undated letter from Lewis to Whitmey, January, 1994). My series of articles on Mrs. McMillan's career certainly have not been based on what she told me during two lengthy conversations in the fall of 1987, and if I have been in error in any way, she hasn't been willing to correct the record, other than to tell me in early 1992 that I might "misinterpret" her answers to a long series of questions I had sent her.
Peter R. Whitmey, November, 1994
To the editor:
In regard to Else Weinstein's comments about LHO's lack of a Southern accent, Priscilla McMillan certainly noted his "slight Southern drawl" in her 1959 report (although when her article was published in the NEW HAVEN EVENING REGISTER on Dec. 3, 1959, the reference to Oswald's accent was deleted.) Kerry Thornley stated in a letter to me dated Dec. 26, 1992, that "...Oswald spoke with no southern dialect whatsoever when I knew him. I wasn't even aware that he was from Texas. If anything, there was perhaps a hint of (a) New York accent in his speech..." In my letter to Kerry, I had made reference to comments by LHO in regard to his background recorded sometime in 1963, which were included in The Men Who Killed Kennedy series. He started out by saying that he was born in "New Orleans" (with the accent on "leans" - rhymes with "beans"), which is not the way southerners pronounce it. In his reply, Kerry stated that "...nobody from New Orleans would have pronounced it to rhyme with beans!"
As discussed by Jim Marrs in Crossfire (p. 547) and cited in my article, "Did Oswald Come Back?" (TTD, Jan. 1991), three language experts at SMU concluded that English was not the native tongue of the voice that they studied (which was LHO's voice.) Intriguingly, British actor Gary Oldman, who portrayed LHO so convincingly in JFK, was quoted as wondering if the voice he studied (the main source being the New Orleans radio debate) was even that of an American, describing his accent as "...the strangest cocktail of all kinds of things. He had inconsistency of pronunciation within a single sentence. ("Accent on Accuracy" by Judith Shulevitz, NYT News Service vice, Feb.10, 1992). Oldman's accent coach, Timothy Monich, described LHO's accent as a combination of "...American, Russian and Spanish ... plus he had a speech impediment."
Coupled with the height discrepancies (including Priscilla McMillan's reference to LHO being a "six-footer" in her 1959 report, which was replaced by "a nice young man" in the post- assassination version) and "New Orleans, Texas, USA" listed by Oswald as his birthplace on his all-important Russian exit visa, it makes you wonder who really died at the hands of Jack Ruby on Nov. 24, 1963.
Does that clear up the matter for you, Else?
Peter R. Whitmey, January, 1995
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