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Merriman Smith

AKA Albert Merriman Smith

Born: 10-Feb-1913
Birthplace: Savannah, GA
Died: 13-Apr-1970
Location of death: Washington, DC
Cause of death: Suicide
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Journalist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: UPI correspondent, reported Kennedy's death

As UPI reporter, Smith was a passenger in JFK's final motorcade. He was the first to report any signs of trouble with the FLASH wire report, "THREE SHOTS WERE FIRED AT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S MOTORCADE IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS." Associated Press also had a reporter on the scene, Jack Bell, and Smith fended off Bell's access to the press pool's radiotelephone. Thus, three UPI reports were on the wire before the first AP flash came through -- a second beginning "KENNEDY SERIOUSLY WOUNDED", and then, third, a longer notice of Kennedy's death. At the time of that third report, the first AP wire arrived, which did not indicate the President's death. A subsequent wire from Associated Press emanating from the Parkland hospital was garbled. UPI dominated the news in the early coverage of Kennedy's assassination. A longer piece, composed aboard LBJ's airplane flight back to Washington, a flight refused by Jack Bell, earned Smith a Pulitzer Prize. Smith also coined the infamous term, "Grassy Knoll", a favorite of conspiracy theorists.

Father: Albert C. Smith
Mother: Juliet Worth
Wife: Eleanor Doyle Brill (m. 1937, div. 1966, two sons, one daughter)
Son: Merriman, Jr. (Army helicopter pilot, b. 29-Jun-1938. 18-Feb-1966 in Vietnam)
Son: Timothy
Daughter: Allison
Wife: Gailey L. Johnson (m. 1966, until his death, one daughter)
Daughter: Gillean

    University: Oglethorpe University (attended)

    United Press International White House Correspondent (1941-70)
    United Press International Correspondent (1936-41)
    Athens Daily Times Managing Editor (1935-36)
    Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine Staff (1934-35)
    Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting 1964
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 1967
    Shot: Self-Inflicted 13-Apr-1970

Author of books:
Thank You, Mr. President: A White House Notebook (1946)
A President Is Many Men (1948)
Meet Mister Eisenhower (1955)
A President's Odyssey (1961)
The Good New Days: A Not Entirely Reverent Study of Native Habits and Customs in Modern Washington (1962)
Merriman Smith's Book of Presidents (1972)


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