Earl E. T. Smith

Earl E. T. Smith

Earl Edward Tailer Smith was born in Rhode Island in 1903. He studied at Yale University (1926-28) before becoming an investment broker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He also became a partner in the investment brokers, Paige, Smith, and Remick (1930-1939).

In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Smith as special assistant in the Office of Production Management (later War Production Board). He left this post to serve in the United States Army during the Second World War. He served overseas and by the end of the war reached the rank of lieutenant colonel? In 1947 Smith married Florence Pritchett. The couple had three children.

In June, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Smith as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Cuba. He held the post until 20th January, 1959. Smith is the author of the book, The Fourth Floor(1962), an account of the Fidel Castro revolution in Cuba.

In 1965 Dorothy Kilgallen managed to obtain a private interview with Jack Ruby. She told friends that she had information that would "break the case wide open". Aware of what had happened to Bill Hunter and Jim Koethe, Kilgallen handed her interview notes to her friend Florence Smith. She told friends that she had obtained information that Ruby and J. D. Tippit were friends and that David Ferrie was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Earl Edward Smith
Earl Edward Smith

On 8th November, 1965, Dorothy Kilgallen, was found dead in her New York apartment. She was fully dressed and sitting upright in her bed. The police reported that she had died from taking a cocktail of alcohol and barbiturates. The notes of her interview with Jack Ruby and the article she was writing on the case had disappeared. Florence Smith, died two days later of a cerebral hemorrhage.

On his return to the United States Smith settled in Florida and became director of the Bank of Palm Beach and Trust Corporation and the U.S. Sugar Corporation.

He also served as mayor of Palm Beach (1971-1977). In June, 1982, Smith became a member of the Presidential Commission on Broadcasting to Cuba.

Earl Edward Tailer Smith died in 1991.

Earl Smith and John F. Kennedy in 1963
Earl Smith and John F. Kennedy in 1963

Primary Sources

(1) Earl E. T. Smith gave evidence to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on 27th August, 1960.

F. W. Sourwine: Mr. Smith, when you were appointed Ambassador to Cuba, were you briefed on the job?

Earl E. Smith: Yes; I was.

F. W. Sourwine: Who gave you this briefing?

Earl E. Smith: I spent 6 weeks in Washington, approximately 4 days of each week, visiting various agencies and being briefed by the State, Department and those whom the State Department designated.

F. W. Sourwine: Any particular individual or individuals who, had a primary part in this briefing?

Earl E. Smith: The answer is, in the period of 6 weeks I was briefed by numbers of people in the usual course as every Ambassador is briefed.

F. W. Sourwine: Is it true, sir, that you were instructed to get a briefing on your new job as Ambassador to Cuba from Herbert Matthews of the New York Times?

Earl E. Smith: Yes; that is correct.

F. W. Sourwine: Who gave you these instructions?

Earl E. Smith: William Wieland, Director of the Caribbean Division and Mexico. At that time he was Director of the Caribbean Division, Central American Affairs.

F. W. Sourwine: Did you, sir, in fact see Matthews?

Earl E. Smith: Yes; I did.

F. W. Sourwine: And did he brief you on the Cuban situation?

Earl E. Smith: Yes; he did.

F. W. Sourwine: Could you give us the highlights of what he told you?...

Earl E. Smith: We talked for 2 1/2 hours on the Cuban situation, a complete review o£ his feelings regarding Cuba, Batista, Castro, the situation in Cuba, and what he thought would happen.

F. W. Sourwine: What did he think would happen?

Earl E. Smith: He did not believe that the Batista government could last, and that the fall of the Batista government would come relatively soon.

F. W. Sourwine: Specifically what did he say about Castro?

Earl E. Smith: In February 1957 Herbert L. Matthews wrote three articles on Fidel Castro, which appeared on the front page of the New York Times, in which he eulogized Fidel Castro and portrayed him as a political Robin Hood, and I would say that he repeated those views to me in our conversation....

F. W. Sourwine: What did Mr. Matthews tell you about Batista?

Earl E. Smith: Mr. Matthews had a very poor view of Batista, considered him a rightist ruthless dictator whom he believed to be corrupt. Mr. Matthews informed me that he had very knowledgeable views of Cuba and Latin American nations, and had seen the same things take place in Spain. He believed that it would be in the best interest of Cuba and the best interest of the world in general when Batista was removed from office.

F. W. Sourwine: It was true that Batista's government was corrupt, wasn't it?

Earl E. Smith: It is true that Batista's government was corrupt. Batista was the power behind the Government in Cuba off and on for 25 years. The year 1957 was the best economic year that Cuba had ever had.

However, the Batista regime was disintegrating from within. It was becoming more corrupt, and as a result, was losing strength. The Castro forces themselves never won a military victory. The best military victory they ever won was through capturing Cuban guardhouses and military skirmishes, but they never actually won a military victory.

The Batista government was overthrown because of the corruption, disintegration from within, and because of the United States and the various agencies of the United States who directly and indirectly aided the overthrow of the Batista government and brought into power Fidel Castro.

F. W. Sourwine: What were those, agencies, Mr. Smith?

Earl E. Smith: The US Government agencies - may I say something off the record?

(Discussion off the record.)

F. W. Sourwine: Mr. Smith, the pending question before you read your statement was: What agencies of the US Government had a hand in bringing pressure to overthrow the Batista government, and how did they do it?

Earl E. Smith: Well, the agencies, certain influential people, influential sources in the State Department, lower down echelons in the CIA. I would say representatives of the majority of the US Government agencies which have anything to do with the Embassy...

F. W. Sourwine: Mr. Smith, when you talked with Matthews to get the briefing before you went to Cuba, was he introduced to you as having any authority from the State Department or as being connected with the State Department in any way?

Earl E. Smith: Let me go back. You asked me a short while ago who arranged the meeting with Mr. Matthews.

F. W. Sourwine: And you said Mr. Wieland.

Earl E. Smith: I said Wilham Wieland, but Wilham Wieland also had to have the approval of Roy Rubottom, who was then Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs. Now, to go back to this question, as I understood it, you said - would you mind repeating that again?

F. W. Sourwine: I asked if, when you were, sent to Mr. Matthews for this briefing, he was introduced to you as having any official connection with the State Department or any authority from the Department?

Earl E. Smith: Oh, no. I knew who he was, and they obviously knew I knew who he was, but I believe, that they thought it would be a good idea for me to get the viewpoint of Herbert Matthews, and also I think that Herbert Matthews is the leading Latin American editorial writer for the New York Times. Obviously the State Department would like to have the support of the New York Times...

James Eastland: Mr. Smith, we have had hearings, a great many, in Miami, with prominent Cubans, and there is a thread that runs through the whole thing that people connected with some Government agency went to Cuba and called on the chiefs of the armed forces and told them that we would not recognize the government of the President-elect, and that we would not back him, and that because of that the chiefs of the armed forces told Batista to leave the country, and they set up a government in which they attempted to make a deal with Castro. That is accurate, isn't it, Tom?

Thomas Dodd: I would say so, yes...

James Eastland: Let me ask you this question. As a matter of fact, isn't it your judgment that the State Department of the United States is primarily responsible for bringing Castro to power in Cuba?

Earl E. Smith: No, sir, I can't say that the State Department in itself is primarily responsible. The State Department played a large part in bringing Castro to power. The press, other Government agencies, Members of Congress are responsible...

James Eastland: You had been warning the State Department that Castro was a Marxist?

Earl E. Smith: Yes, sir.

James Eastland: And that Batista's government was a friendly government. That is what had been your advice as to the State Department?

Earl E. Smith: Let me answer that this way, which will make it very clear. When I went to Cuba, I left here with the definite feeling according to my briefings which I had received, that the U.S. Government was too close to the Batista regime, and that we were being accused of intervening in the affairs of Cuba by trying to perpetuate the Batista dictatorship.

After I had been in Cuba for approximately 2 months, and had made a study of Fidel Castro and the revolutionaries, it was perfectly obvious to me as it would be to any other reasonable man that Castro was not the answer; that if Castro came to power, it would not be in the best interests of Cuba or in the best interests of the United States....

In my own Embassy there were certain ones of influence who were pro-26th of July, pro-Castro, and anti-Batista.

James Eastland: Who were they?

Earl E. Smith: Do I have to answer that question, Senator?

James Eastland: Yes, I think you have to. We are not going into it unnecessarily.

Earl E. Smith: I don't want to harm anybody. That is the reason I asked.

I would say the Chief of the Political Section, John Topping, and the Chief of the CIA Section. It was revealed that the No. 2 CIA rnan in the embassy had given unwarranted and undue encouragement to the revolutionaries. This came out in the trials of naval officers after the Cienfuegos revolution of September I957...

James Eastland: He (Batista) didn't have to leave. He had not been defeated by armed force.

Earl E. Smith: Let me put it to you this way: that there are a lot of reasons for Batista's moving out. Batista had been in control off and on for 25 years. His government was disintegrating, at the end due to corruption, due to the fact that he had been in power too long. Police brutality was getting worse.

On the other hand there were three forces that kept Batista in power. He had the support of the armed forces, he had support of the labor leaders. Cuba enjoyed a good economy.

Nineteen hundred and fifty-seven was one of the best years in the economic history of Cuba. The fact that the United States was no longer supporting Batista had a devastating psychological effect, upon the armed forces and upon the leaders of the labor movement. This went a long way toward bringing about his downfall.

On the other hand, our actions in the United States were responsible for the rise to power of Castro. Until certain portions of the American press began to write derogatory articles against the Batista government, the Castro revolution never got off first base.

Batista made the mistake of overemphasizing the importance of Prio, who was residing in Florida, and underestimating the importance of Castro. Prio was operating out of the United States, out of Florida, supplying the revolutionaries with arms, ammunition, bodies and money.

Batista told me that when Prio left Cuba, Prio and Alameia (Aleman) took $140 million out of Cuba. If we cut that estimate in half, they may have shared $70 million. It is believed that Prio spent a great many millions of dollars in the United States assisting the revolutionaries. This was done right from our shores....

F. W. Sourwine: Is there any doubt in your mind that the Cuban Government, under Castro, is a Communist government?

Earl E. Smith: Now?

F. W. Sourwine: Yes.

Earl E. Smith: I would go further. I believe it is becoming a satellite.

The logical thing for the Russians to do would be to move into Cuba which they had already done, and to take over, which they would do by a mutual security pact.

Then, when the United States objects, all they have to say is:

"We will get out of Cuba when you get out of Turkey."

Thomas Dodd: You are not suggesting-

Earl E. Smith: That is a speech I made in February.

Thomas Dodd: Yes, but you are not suggesting that the Communists will cease and desist from their activities in Cuba and Central and South America, or anywhere else, if we get out of these other places?

Earl E. Smith: Out of Turkey?

Thomas Dodd: Yes.

Earl E. Smith: It would mean a great deal to them if we got out of Turkey. I am no expert on Turkey.

Thomas Dodd: You do not have to be an expert on Turkey, but you ought to be a little bit of an expert on the Communists to know this would not follow at all.

Every time we have retreated from one place, they have moved into new areas.

Earl E. Smith: Senator, I did not say what they would do.

Thomas Dodd: I know, but...

Earl E. Smith: That they would move into Cuba to retaliate with us.

(2) Earl E. T. Smith, statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary (27th August, 1960)

First let me say that to date I have made no public statement regarding my experiences in Cuba because I did not feel that, as a former Ambassador, it was my function to say anything which might be interpreted as critical of the administration which I had served. I have only the greatest respect and admiration for President Eisenhower, whose integrity is beyond question.

However, the establishment of a Communist regime in Cuba involves the defense and safety of this country and as you asked me to testify before you, I do so, recognizing that the welfare of the United States must transcend personal desires and reticence.

From personal experience I have learned that many very influential sources in the United States are dedicated to the overthrow of all dictatorships. They are as opposed to anti-Communist rightest dictators, who are friendly to the United States, as to the Communist dictators whom they regard as progressive. They adopt a doctrinaire attitude toward this question which is so impractical that they ultimately unwittingly defeat themselves. If dictatorship versus democracy were the only question that faced us, it would not be difficult to make a decision. However, as we are in the midst of a struggle for survival, other considerations are pertinent.

If the policy of the United States is to bring about the overthrow of dictators in the hope that democracy will follow, then I believe that the United States must be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to preserve law and order and relevant chaos during that interim period of transition. If free and open elections are to be held, when a dictator is overthrown, a provisional government must be formed and such government needs outside support to maintain law and order. To do otherwise leaves a vacuum for the Communists to gain control. Such a vacuum did not occur in Cuba while I was the U.S. Ambassador there. Instead, a group was ready to seize power - a Communist group.

If we are to intervene sufficiently to bring about the overthrow of dictatorships, then we should intervene to whatever extent is required to fulfill our purpose. Otherwise, in my opinion, we must wait for the normal self-development of a people and not assist revolution. And we must be prepared to receive the criticism of supporting friendly governments recognized by the United States, although they have been labeled dictatorships. To make my point more clear, let me say that, we helped to overthrow the Batista dictatorship which was pro-American only to install the Castro dictatorship which is pro-Russian.

(3) (3) New York Journal American (15th November, 1965)

The death of Dorothy Kilgallen, Journal-American columnist and famed TV personality, was contributed to by a combination of moderate quantities of alcohol and barbiturates, a medical examiner's report stated today.

As many personalities whose multiple duties and responsibilities demand unceasing attention, Miss Kilgallen experienced recurring tensions in meeting her deadlines for performances - both as a newspaperwoman and TV performer.

In his report today, Dr. James Luke, Assistant Medical Examiner, said that although Miss Kilgallen had only "moderate amounts of each," the effect of the combination had caused depression of the central nervous system "which in turn caused her heart to stop."

(4) David Welsh, Ramparts (November, 1966)

We know of no serious person who really believes that the death of Dorothy Kilgallen, the gossip columnist, was related to the Kennedy assassination. Still, she was passionately interested in the case, told friends she firmly believed there was a conspiracy and that she would find out the truth if it took her all her life.

Miss Kilgallen was the first to make public the existence of Acquilla Clemons, a witness to the Tippit killing whose name does not appear once in the Warren Report or volumes. She was also the only reporter ever to interview Jack Ruby privately since the killing of Oswald. During the Ruby trial, which she covered for the now defunct New York Journal-American, Judge Joe E. Brown granted her 30 minutes alone with Ruby in the judge's chambers; the other reporters were furious.

One of the biggest scoops of Miss Kilgallen's career came when she pirated the transcript of Ruby's testimony before the Warren Commission and ran it in the Journal-American. Thousands of New Yorkers were shocked at the hopelessly inept questioning of Ruby by Chief Justice Warren, by Warren's almost deliberate failure to follow up the leads Ruby was feeding him.

Miss Kilgallen died in her bed on November 8, 1965. Dr. James Luke, a New York City medical examiner, said the cause of death was "acute barbiturate (sic) and alcohol intoxication, circumstances undetermined." Dr. Luke said there were not high enough levels of either alcohol or barbiturates (sic) to have caused death, but that the two are "additive" and together are quite enough to kill. This cause of death, he observed, is not at all uncommon. Was it suicide? Accident? Murder? - Dr. Luke said there was no way of determining that.

As we say, Dorothy Kilgallen probably does not belong on any list of Kennedy-related deaths. But questions do remain. An editor of Screen Stars magazine, Mary Brannum, says she received a phone call a few hours before Dorothy's body was discovered, announcing that she had been murdered. Miss Kilgallgen's "What's My Line" makeup man said that shortly before her death she vowed she would "crack this case." And another New York show biz friend said Dorothy told him in the last days of her life: "In five more days I'm going to bust this case wide open."

(5) (5) Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1989)

Whatever information Kilgallen learned and from whatever source, many researchers believe it brought about her strange death. She told attorney Mark Lane: "They've killed the President, (and) the government is not prepared to tell us the truth . . . " and that she planned to "break the case." To other friends she said: "This has to be a conspiracy! . . . I'm going to break the real story and have the biggest scoop of the century." And in her last column item regarding the assassination, published on September 3, 1965, Kilgallen wrote: "This story isn't going to die as long as there's a real reporter alive - and there are a lot of them." But on November 8, 1965, there was one less reporter. That day Dorothy Kilgallen was found dead in her home. It was initially reported that she died of a heart attack, but quickly this was changed to an overdose of alcohol and pills.

(6) John J. Johnson, Florence Pritchett (28th July, 2004)

Jack Kennedy met Florence Pritchett when he was still in the Navy in 1944. Flo was good-looking, five foot seven, with brown eyes and brown hair. Lots of girls were prettier, but Flo had so much personality. In her junior year in high school, she went to see John Robert Powers and got a job as a Powers model. When school was over, she got on a bus and went to New York to pose. Her first photograph was a shaving ad in the second issue of Life magazine.

For Flo, modeling was the first step toward being somebody. She wanted to be part of the scene, to be somebody, do interesting things, and meet interesting people. She met Richard Canning, the son of a bubble gum king. He was a Catholic, so Flo converted to Catholicism, and in 1940 they were married in Ridgewood. Canning was not enormously wealthy, but he could afford to dine at the Stork Club every day. He went into the Air Force in Texas. By then Powers had started his modeling school and he put Flo in charge of fashion. She told the girls what "type" they were and what kind of clothes they should wear. Flo had gotten to know Lorelle Hearst, the wife of William Randolph Hearst, Jr. Lorelle was woman's editor of the Hearst paper, the New York Journal American, and she offered Flo a job as fashion editor. Flo spent many weekends at the Hearst place in Manhassett, a great estate with twisty roads and big stone gates.2

By all accounts, the girl who stood highest with Jack was still Flo Pritchett, whom he saw in New York and Washington. Chuck Spalding said that Flo was the only person who could always be guaranteed to make Jack laugh. Chuck's wife Betty added that, for Jack, "Over a long period of time, it was probably the closest relationship with a woman I know of." But Flo knew better than anyone else that there would never be a marriage to Jack. Although Flo had converted to Catholicism to marry Canning, she was later divorced. Flo had outgrown her husband who was still in Texas, so they decided to part. They were divorced around 1943 in Las Vegas.

In Jack's appointment book for June 28, 1947 there was an entry in Flo's handwriting: "Flo Pritchett's birthday! SEND DIAMONDS." That day she was twenty-seven. Within a year she would be married again.

FBI files allege that during 1957-1958 Jack Kennedy made several trips to Havana, Cuba, to visit Flo Pritchett who was then married to millionaire American Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith and a strong supporter of Cuban dictator Batista. Other meetings took place in Miami and Palm Beach during Flo's visits to the States. Kennedy made more than a dozen trips to Cuba to see them and stayed at the Smith home. Seymour Hersh states that on one of these trips, the U.S. Embassy was told by Cuban police and military intelligence officials that Senator Kennedy was of concern to them "for security reasons." The Cubans reported that Kennedy was going to bed with the wife of the Italian ambassador and they would hate to have the young senator shot while on a visit to Havana. "You know those Italians," they said. An embassy official was assigned to tell Kennedy "to cut it out."

The Smiths also spent much time in Palm Beach, where their home conveniently adjoined the Kennedy house, and Kennedy saw considerably more of Florence. Several books have suggested that JFK wanted to send Earl Smith to Switzerland so he could have Flo to himself. This seems unlikely since Earl would undoubtedly have taken his wife with him. According to Earl, Kennedy wanted to appoint him ambassador to Switzerland, but Fidel Castro objected because the U.S. and Cuba no longer maintained diplomatic relations and Switzerland represented the U.S. in Cuba. Since Earl had been ambassador to Cuba under Eisenhower, Castro claimed his appointment to Switzerland represented a conflict of interest. So Earl's name was withdrawn, which was just as well because he didn't see eye-to-eye with JFK politically.

Lem Billings says, "Later there were stories of secret interludes between Jack and Flo, feverish encounters on the stretch of sand connecting their respective homes. Although I never personally witnessed any of these meetings, I don't for a second doubt that they occurred."

JFK would elude the Secret Service on occasion in order to have trysts with women. He did this in Palm Beach when he hopped a fence to swim with Flo Smith. The Secret Service agents couldn't find him and called in the FBI. They finally turned to Palm Beach Police Chief Homer Large, a trusted Kennedy family associate. The Police Chief knew exactly where to find Jack - next door in Earl E. T. Smith's swimming pool. Jack and Flo were alone, and as Homer put it, "They weren't doing the Australian crawl."

After he was caught in this encounter, Jack realized he couldn't be so blatant. Still, he was convinced that none of the Secret Service men, his pals, or the servants would ever say anything and, even if they did, no one would ever print it.

Flo Pritchett died of leukemia in 1965 at age forty-five.

(7) Robert W. Pelton, article about his book, Traitors & Treason (2002)

What's your traitor-treason I.Q.? If you can answer the following questions, it's high. If you miss one or more, you should carefully read Traitors & Treason.

* Which Secretary of State was identified as a Soviet agent?

* How many of the 17 Americans who helped create the United Nations were later exposed as Communist moles?

* Who allowed the head of the American Communist Party to have an office in the White House?

* Which President promoted a highly placed Communist mole after the FBI had exposed the man?

* Which major American university gave an honorary degree to a notorious Communist spy?

These are questions to which every American should rightfully have an honest answer! But, unfortunately, most do not. As the Honorable Ezra Taft Benson says: "The truth must be told even at the risk of destroying, in large measure, the influence of men who are widely respected and loved by the American people. The stakes are high. Freedom and survival is the issue."

Tragedy was carefully orchestrated by traitors in the Government and the media with regard to Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Rhodesia, China, El Salvador, Nicaragua and many other countries. Anastasio Somoza, former President of free Nicaragua, offered a startling insight: "I have factual evidence that the . . . betrayal of Nicaragua was not perpetrated out of ignorance, but rather by design." Somoza was soon after assassinated. Earl E.T. Smith was the American Ambassador to Cuba when it was similarly delivered to the Communists. He makes this concise comment: "Nicaragua is Cuba all over again." Is this not treason?

(8) John Simkin, Florence Pritchett and the Kennedy Assassination (24th November, 2004)

There has been no investigation into the death of Florence Pritchett. Officially she died of a cerebral haemorrhage. Is it possible that she was murdered? Maybe it was because she had Kilgallen’s notes for her article on the Kennedy assassination. However, I think if she was murdered it might have been more about what she knew rather than what property she had in her possession. I believe that Florence Pritchett had been her main source of information on political issues connected to Kennedy. Not only because she was had been having an affair with Kennedy for nearly 20 years, but because she was the wife of Earl Smith, a leading figure in the anti-Castro community in Florida. Pritchett was ideally placed to know what had been going on during 1963. The greatest puzzle of all is why she was allowed to live as long as she did.