Dad to Son: I Don't Know 'Who Whacked Jack Kennedy'

Author tries to understand his hitman father
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2021 1:15 PM CST
Dad to Son: I Don't Know 'Who Whacked Jack Kennedy'

It's a story about a man reconnecting with the father he barely knew as a child. But in this case, the father is someone who ends phone conversations with statements like, "I don't know anything about who whacked Jack Kennedy." James Dolan writes the account, headlined, "My Father, the Hitman," in D Magazine. As he explains, his dad, James "Doc" Dolan" led a life of crime for all of his adult life. He spent long stretches in prison. And he worked with associates such as Jack Ruby in Dallas, the man who fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby “really wanted to be seen as a tough guy," Doc Dolan once told his son, but the story doesn't shed new light on the JFK assassination. The Ruby link is just one small thread in the story of how the younger Dolan, a psychotherapist, sets out to understand his father.

When the two reconnected in the 1980s, with the author in his 30s, his father gave him a special type of fatherly advice. If he ever has trouble making mortgage payments, Doc Dolan said, just put the house "in the sky." That is, burn it, as the elder Dolan did to the younger Dolan's childhood home in Texas. The entire account is a colorful one, filled with stories of cons (like a counterfeit counterfeit machine) and safety deposit boxes filled with cash, but the author also has to come to grips with the brutal murders his father committed—including a pair of executions related to a dog-fighting ring. The elder Dolan was murdered himself in 1984, not too long after the men had reconnected, and the author tries to untangle the various theories in play. He realizes, however, that he may never know his father's full story, in ways big and small. (Read the account here.)

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