After JFK Facts recounted Jack Ruby’s pursuit of an exotic dancer named Gail Raven in January 1963, I received a message from a woman who identified herself as Raven’s daughter. She told me that her mother was still alive, and she confirmed that her mother and Jack Ruby were close. I asked her if her mother would share her memories of the man who killed accused assassin Lee H. Oswald. She said yes.
In 1963 Gail Raven was the stage name of a precociously mature 20-year-old woman who danced on the national nightclub circuit that included Ruby’s Carousel Club in Dallas. Ruby (born Jack Rubenstein) was a Chicago tough guy who took a shine to her, and they became friends.
Now close to 70 years old, Gail Raven is living in the southern United States. I have confirmed her real name but have agreed not to publish it here to protect her privacy.
What were Ruby’s politics?
Ruby never mentioned President Kennedy, Raven said. “He was not in love with the Kennedys and he did NOT like Robert Kennedy by no means,” she says.
This is not surprising, according to journalists and historians who have studied Ruby’s life. Phone records reviewed by JFK investigators showed that in 1962-63 Ruby made phone calls to no less than seven organized crime figures who had been prosecuted by Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department.
The Warren Commission did not consider this evidence relevant to Ruby’s motivation for silencing Oswald.
Why did Ruby kill Oswald?
“He had no choice,” Raven said. When I asked her to explain why he “had no choice,” she replied only, “Jack had bosses, just like everyone else.”
Raven says she believes “he was instructed on what he needed to do, therefore he did it. And when the opportunity presented itself he went ahead and took it.”
Did Ruby kill Oswald to spare First Lady Jackie Kennedy the ordeal of a criminal trial?
“That was absolutely made up,” Raven said.
Ruby told that story to Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels 30 minutes after he executed Oswald. The conversation went like this, according to Sorrels:
And I said these two words, “Jack — why?”
He said, “When this thing happened” — referring to the assassination, that he was in a newspaper office placing an ad for his business. That when he heard about the assassination, he had canceled his ad and had closed his business, and he had not done any business for 3 days. That he had been grieving about this thing. That on the Friday night he had gone to the synagogue and had heard a eulogy on the President. That his sister had recently been operated on, and that she has been hysterical. That when he saw that Mrs. Kennedy was going to have to appear for the trial, he thought to himself, why should she have to go through this ordeal for this no-good so-and-so.
Ruby told this story to others; he later said his lawyer told him to say it. One college professor believes Ruby was sincere and the story is true. Not Gail Raven: “That was absolutely made up.”
Ruby and the Dallas police:
“He was very close with Dallas authorities, including the police and sheriff’s department. He helped them out and was friends with many,” she says. Raven thinks those friends may have informed Ruby about the transfer of Oswald and let him be there to witness it, but she stresses these are her thoughts only.
She doesn’t think that killing Oswald was Ruby’s original plan on November 24, 1963.
“He would have never done it with Sheba (his weenie dog) left in his car, knowing they would arrest him and Sheba would be alone,” she said. “Sheba was a child to Jack.”
After the shooting, Raven visited Ruby in the Dallas jail. She says Wally Weston, the house MC at the Carousel Club, took her to see him. During the visit Ruby kept repeating to her that she shouldn’t worry, and that everything would be OK after the first of the year.
Ruby and Cuba
He wanted to take her on a trip to the island to “gamble,” Raven says. She worked in Las Vegas but wasn’t allowed to gamble in the casino because she was only 20. She only worked in the floor shows. Raven remembers “a gambling friend” from Cuba who visited Ruby on the occasion of a big horse race between Candy Spots and Shadow Gay, though she admits she’s not certain she’s remembering the names right.
“The race didn’t turn out as everyone said it would and a lot of money was lost in Vegas,” Raven says.
Ruby as suitor
After Ruby ended a long relationship with a young woman, he continued to ask Raven to marry him. They were friends. He liked her because she didn’t drink or smoke. She told him she didn’t want to get married. He teased that they needed to get married for the “shock factor” and to surprise her friend Tammie True (stage name). But in Raven’s words they were “always just good friends.”
“Jack was NOT crazy as he has been portrayed,” Raven says. “He did have a temper and when he saw something going wrong he would take care of things himself instead of depending on his bouncer like others.”
“He was good to my grandmother when she visited,” she said. “He was good to everyone he was close to.”
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