THE JFK FILES: RUBY KNEW

According to the testimony of two women from the demimonde in Dallas—Jada Conforto, a fiery and highly intelligent red-haired beauty who at the age of 27 was already one of the stars of burlesque, and Beverly Oliver, a naïve 17-year old singer from the club next door to the Carousel Club— Jack Ruby knew Lee Harvey Oswald. 

Moreover, Ruby also knew the assassination of JFK was imminent, newly-released JFK files show. 

Beverly Oliver told Warren Commission investigators that Jack Ruby introduced her, with Jada present, to Lee Harvey Oswald in his club several weeks before the assassination. 

Oliver’s testimony was peremptorily dismissed, and ridiculed as fantasy. But what has until now been virtually unknown is that Beverly Oliver’s testimony was confirmed by Jada in conversation with two well-known and highly-respected journalists in Texas, before she left Dallas for good several days after the assassination.

Edwin ‘Bud’ Shrake and his life-long best friend Gary Cartwright were sportswriters at the Dallas Morning News who shared an apartment in Dallas together that became a hub for late-night parties during 1963.  The two men— who both went on to have illustrious careers as celebrated journalists, novelists, and screenwriters— were between divorces.  Jada was a frequent visitor.  So too was Jack Ruby. 

 

Jack, Jada, Bud, Gary…and the Kingston Trio

Jada Conforto and Bud Shrake were a hot item during the months before the assassination. Jack Ruby was telling local newspapers the big story with Jada was that she was the only stripper in Dallas who was trained in ballet, had a college degree,  and was also a descendant of John Quincy Adams. True or no, there was something different about Jada.

From “Who was Jack Ruby?” by Gary Cartwright, Texas Monthly, November 1975:

“Ruby invited us to the Carousel one night, and Shake came home with Jada. We all became good friends, and when Jo and I got married a few weeks later, Jada gave us our first wedding gift — a two-pound Girl Scout cookie tin full of illegal weed she had smuggled across the border in her gold Cadillac with the letters JADA embossed on the door.

“Jada cleared customs with 100 of the two-pound tins in the trunk of her car. She was accompanied by a state politician (who knew nothing about the load) and wore a mink coat, high-heel shoes, and nothing else.

“The first thing she did at customs was open the door and fall out, revealing more than the customs official expected. One of  Jada’s great pleasures was driving around Dallas in high heels and a mink coat, with her orange hair piled high and her coat flaring open.”

 

From “Assessing that bloody weekend” by Kent Biffle in the Feb 4, 2001 Dallas Morning News:

“Gary and Bud were between marriages, sharing an apartment on Cole Avenue. Morning newspaper folks are night owls, and the Shrake-Cartwright pad that year was a late-night hangout for musicians, strippers and other nocturnal creatures. I recall a Dallas TV anchor telling me that late one night, Gary knocked on her apartment door, seeking to borrow ice. Clutching a couple of trays, he invited her to drop by, saying ‘We’ve got the Kingston Trio up there tonight.’

“She humored him, told him good night, and was stunned to learn the next day that Gary really did have the Kingston Trio up there.”

Both Bud Shrake and Gary Cartwright passed away during  the past five years. 

From Cartwright’s Feb 25 2017 New York Times obituary: 

Gary Cartwright, 82, Irreverent Texas Journalist

In the weeks leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Dallas apartment that Mr. Cartwright shared with his friend and fellow reporter, Bud Shrake, was a popular late-night hangout for, among others, Jack Ruby and one of Ruby’s favorite strippers, Jada.

Mr. Ruby, the nightclub owner who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, was a recurring figure in Mr. Cartwright’s journalism. As Mr. Cartwright wrote in ”Confessions of a Washed-up Sportswriter” (1983), ”On the morning of the assassination, Ruby called our apartment and asked if we’d seen Jada.”

 

“My friend Lee from the CIA”

Gary Cartwright and Bud Shrake weren’t fringe journalists wearing bandanas, pearl-buttoned cowboy shirts, and purple tie-dyed jeans with hand-sewn patches…

They were already nationally-known sports reporters successfully facing the rigors of daily journalism. Both were on their way to stellar careers as award-winning journalists, prolific novelists, and highly-successful screenwriters.  

Alas, Bud and Gary did not belong to the pool of nationally-known political journalists unofficially ‘accredited’— Dan Rather’s name comes to mind— to cover the assassination. But on the other hand, there were no national correspondents who could boast that they’d been dating Jada Conforto, Jack Ruby’s star stripper, like Bud Shrake could.

Nor could anyone from CBS or the New York Times casually mention that they’d received a phone call from Jack Ruby just before JFK was killed.

Gary Cartwright could. 

In “Scene of the Crime” from the Dec 1990 Texas Monthly, Gary Cartwright wrote:

“It all looked so different 27 years ago… My friend Bud Shrake and I shared an apartment on Cole Avenue in Dallas in 1963. Ruby and other characters from the Carousel Club, including an unforgettable stripper named Jada, hung around our apartment. The morning of the assassination, Ruby called our apartment looking for Jada.  Shrake said he hadn’t seen her, which, as I recall, was true. 

“Ruby said, in a threatening tone, ‘I’m warning you for your own good, stay away from that woman. She’s evil.’”

 

 What Jada Told Bud and Gary

“Evil woman” Jada Conforto and Beverly Oliver asserted—independently and at different times—that they’d been introduced to Oswald by Jack Ruby.  Their testimony provides further confirmation for the bombshell in the newly-released JFK files that reveals Jack Ruby’s invitation to an FBI informant to “watch the fireworks” with him just hours before JFK’s assassination.

Back to Gary Cartwright in the Dec 1990 Texas Monthly:

After the assassination Jada told us Ruby once introduced her to Lee Oswald at the Carousel. While they were having drinks, she said, Beverly Oliver, a singer from the Colony Club next door, stopped by and was also introduced. Jada is dead now, but I phoned Beverly not long ago and asked if she remembered. 

‘Sure do,’ she said. ‘Ruby introduced him as ‘my friend Lee from the CIA.'”

“I’m reminded how astonishingly innocent we all were. We didn’t dream that our friend Jada was a drug courier for the mob, or that Ruby was anything more than a violence-prone punk. Now it appears the Mafia singled Ruby out for special assignments, like carrying bribe money to Cuba to bail Santos Trafficante out of jail, and Trafficante was a key figure in the CIA-Mafia plots to assassinate Castro!

“Who could have guessed that the CIA was in bed with the Mafia?”

 

Who Was Bud Shrake

While Ann Richards was Texas Governor, she and Bud ‘kept company.’ He became Texas’ ‘First Guy.’

“Bud was tall and laconic, and he was very good indeed with the ladies,” wrote his best friend Gary Cartwright in Shrake’s obituary after he died in 2013. 

For the hot skinny on Bud Shrake, one could do worse than to turn to LIZ SMITH, the native Texan who was one of America’s premier gossip columnists. Liz Smith almost always knew the score. From her July 21, 1992 column:

“I suggested to Linda that “Designing Women” could use a guest shot with the very witty Gov. Ann Richards of Texas. She loved the idea, so don’t be surprised if it happens.

“SPEAKING OF Ann Richards – as we have so often recently – she opted for a bit of R ‘n’ R in Gstaad, Switzerland, after she left New Yorkers panting with admiration last week. She has joined her good friends Bud Shrake and June and Dan Jenkins in the Swiss Alps. These Texas warriors all go way back with each other. Shrake and Jenkins are two of the greatest sports writers who ever faked left and turned to the right. June Jenkins is the creator of Juanita’s Tex-Mex cafes in Manhattan, Fort Worth and Florida. She’s also a former beauty queen, immortalized in all of her husband’s novels from “Semi-Tough” to “Baja, Oklahoma.”

“The governor may be a bit out of her element in the Alps, but she is in very good hands.”

 

Strange Peaches

Bud Shrake wrote about Jada, in a work of fiction. Smart Bud.  In his  novel ‘Strange Peaches,’ Jada is called ‘Jingo the tiger lady,’ presumably because Jada used a big stuffed tiger doll in her act, which she enthusiastically humped during the climax of the show.

Even years later, Shrake lovingly recalled her “curving butt;” her sandals with three-inch heels;  her penciled eyebrows: orange lipstick; eyes dark with mascara; even her “twisting cone of lacquered orange hair.” 

On Jada’s telephone tussle with Jack Ruby:

“Immediately after Jingo took the phone, she and Ruby began arguing,” Shrake writes. “I gathered it was an argument that had been going on for some time, and they were merely continuing after taking a break.”

“Jingo screams, “You double-crossing mutha, you can’t treat me this way, I’m a star!”

“Later Jingo leaves for her room at the Holiday Inn. It took an hour to put on her make-up, she explained, and she preferred doing it in the motel rather than in her gamy dressing room. ( Jack Ruby kept several cats and dogs in his club.)

“Why don’t you take off from work tonight? Some people are coming over to swim and eat barbecue,” asks Shrake’s character.

“‘Jingo’ replies, “Ruby’s already threatening to sue me for missing work when I had to go to Chicago. First he threatened to beat me up. What a laugh that is. I said listen, you fucker, you think you’re rough, but you’re not the only one that carries a gun and knows how to use it.”

“Jingo said “I know some people can hang you on a hook.  Ruby asked, would you really cool me?  She says ‘lay a finger on me and find out.’

 

Beverly Oliver gets wised-up

Beverly Oliver told investigators she was introduced—with Jada present—to Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby in his club several weeks before the JFK assassination.

But before that, Jada had already told the same story to Texas journalists Bud and Gary, who happened to be good friends of hers. Then, shortly after the assassination, she disappeared. Cartwright and Shrake both reported her account of meeting Oswald with Beverly. But not right away. A little later on. 

Why later on?  Why didn’t the staggering story that Jada told two highly-competent journalists immediately go public? It’s an obvious question. And it’s one that Beverly Oliver, during her later testimony, said had an obvious answer. 

Beverly Oliver testified before the Assassination Records Review Board on November 18, 1994.  She stated she had been 17 years old at the time of the assassination. In addition to Ruby’s introducing her to Lee Oswald, she told the Board she had been filming with an experimental 8mm movie camera when Kennedy was shot. Her film was confiscated by a man who she said identified himself as an FBI agent. She handed over her camera to him because he was an authority figure, and she feared being caught in possession of marijuana.

Q: Did you ever tell this to any official agency—FBI or police department—at the time?

A: No I didn’t.

Q:Why not?

A: Because I was scared

Q: Why were you scared?

A: Because by that time even a little stupid 17-year old could put together that two and two weren’t adding up to four.

Q:What do you mean by that?

A: Well, Jada had disappeared for one thing.

Q: All right let’s stop a moment. Jada was the red-haired stripper that was at the table with Ruby and Oswald

A: Jada was the first person to come out and admit to having met Oswald in the club with Ruby two or three weeks before the assassination.

Q: And how did you find that out?

A: it was in the Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times-Herald.

Q: Did you ever see Jada again?

A: Never. Not to this day. I don’t know what happened to her. I know that no one has seen her, nobody I know anyway.

Bud Shrakes and Gary Cartwright were highly creditable and eminently believable journalists who reported disclosures which—had they come to light back when they could have made a difference—might have cast some serious shade on the official story of a lone-nut gunman.

Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald knew each other; at least a handful of prominent Texans had seen the two together. That might have shook things up a little bit.

Tomorrow we’ll see the dishonest stratagems used to keep the American public from finding out.

 

TOMORROW: “THIS IS HOW THEY DO IT TO US”: HOW ‘LONE NUT GUNMAN’ BECAME THE NEW PARTY LINE.

 

Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.

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