Beverly Massegee is a live wire


Beverly Massegee is a live wire. Chatting a mile a minute, she waltzed into our Dallas shoot carrying not only a zillion outfits but a dummy in a well-worn suitcase. Her enthusiasm was infectious. She made our bare-bones crew feel like we were shooting a million-dollar musical on the MGM lot.

Beverly is a fascinating character, and she has led one unbelievable life. I don’t think anyone’s ever fully connected the dots when it comes to Beverly Oliver Massegee: she claims to be the infamous Babushka Lady, and she not only witnessed the JFK assassination, but took footage of the grim event with a Super-8 camera, only to have the film seized by the FBI. She was pals with Jack Ruby and met Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie.

Post-assassination, Beverly married Dixie mafia kingpin George McGann, living life in the fast lane and witnessing murder in the process. She’s also the mastermind behind Christian puppet cult favorite Erick and has toured the toured the country doing evangelical work with her husband Charles. And she has known tragedy: she lost two children, had to give another up for adoption, and the saga of the health battles her daughter Pebbles has endured could fill a book in itself.

Last but not least, in 1965 (as Beverly Oliver) she starred in the crazed Dale Berry anomaly Hot- Blooded Woman. Not unlike Rita Alexander in Berry’s Hot Thrills and Warm Chills, it is Beverly that revs the engine of this sputtering jalopy of a film. Sporting a blindly blonde ‘do and radiating lethal, ‘can-do’ spunk, Beverly dances on tables, fends off rapists, taunts a psychiatrist while wearing a strangely fetishistic white bra and gets dragged off to the nuthouse where she converses with a matronly type who’s convinced the doll she carries is her baby. Foreshadowing the rest of her life, Beverly even stops in the middle of the film to pray. It’s an utterly captivating performance. And whatever one has to say about Dale Berry’s cinematic talents or lack thereof, Berry was ahead of his time, casting powerful, independent women in his no-budget films.

In 1994, Beverly (along with Coke Buchanan) wrote a fascinating, astutely researched book about her life, Nightmare in Dallas. My only complaint about that tome is that it contains very few direct quotes from Beverly, and we aim to correct that deficit right here. The book is rich in detail about her life, and I was hoping Beverly would be the one to illuminate the mystery that is Dale Berry, but just like the rest of those I talked to, she remembers nothing. As in: zero! But that’s OK, because the rest of her life is just as jaw-dropping as Hot-Blooded Woman.

Note that we are not out to challenge or disparage Beverly’s claims–you can find plenty of that elsewhere. We wanted as much of Beverly on the record as possible, talking about all aspects of her life, which she did graciously, and in a frank, forthright manner. From poring over the many interviews Beverly has given, I can tell you she is remarkably consistent. As far as I can deduce, Beverly Massegee has never changed her story one iota—and what a story it is.

–Your 1974 testimony album, which tells the story of your life in a very emotional way, is called The Joyful Gypsy. Where did the title come from, Beverly?

Back then there were not very many of us who traveled around in buses and lived on the road. Like gypsies we went from town to town church to church—and we still do that—it’s not so rare now, a lot of us do that. And it was joyful!

–On that album you say, “I never had a childhood.”

No I didn’t. I came from a very, very, very poor family. People find this hard to believe, but I didn’t have an indoor bathroom until I was twelve years old. I was born at home and we considered it a great move up in class when we moved from 127 Austin Street to 139 Austin Street–from a one-holer to a two-holer [laughter].That was a great move up in class.

There were three kids–I had two sisters and a brother (another brother died before I was born). My daddy was the head of maintenance for the city of Garland and my mother had several different jobs—she worked for Mermetic Steel, they made computer boards. That’s what gave her cancer. Back they didn’t know that you could absorb those chemicals through skin and they were carcinogenic. My mother did that for years, and of course she came down with cancer. Died a horrible death of cancer, it was terrible.

When I was four years old there was a lady named Peggy Alexander who worked for a company called Stanley Home Products. She had what they call a portable organ back then—it wasn’t too portable, actually, it took two men to carry into the party—and they’d have parties where they sold home products and she would give me fifty cents to sing at them. At four years old. So that was the beginning of my career.

I really don’t remember having much of a childhood. Because at nine I actually started singing professionally.

–That was when you announced, “I want to be a saloon singer,” right?

Oh, honey, no, no, no—I was three when I said that.

–[Laughter] That’s rather precocious, Beverly.

Especially since I was raised in an Assembly of God church. Back then we didn’t have television, you didn’t wear makeup…my mother and daddy couldn’t have afforded TV anyway. But my babysitter had a TV, and it was one of those big ol’ cabinet things. My babysitter’s husband had Parkinson’s, he was bedridden and I’d lay up in the hospital bed with him and watch these Western movies—that’s all they had on back then. These beautiful ladies would come in with gorgeous dresses and feathers with their hair high-heeled shoes on and they’d sit at the piano and sing. And they were called saloon singers.

And one day—it was a Sunday, and I can tell you what song I was singin’: “Are You Satisfied With Me” at the Assembly of God Church in Gotham, Texas–the Pastor picked me up. I was little, standing on the altar, so the people could see me sing.

And he picked me up, and he’s carrying on a conversation with me and he said, “Now, Beverly what do you want to be when you get grown?” Expecting me to say that I want to be a schoolteacher or a preacher’s wife, and I blurted out, “I want to be a saloon singer!”

And you could hear everybody in that church gasp—especially mother and daddy—because they had no idea I knew what a saloon singer was. And lo and behold—that’s what I grew up to be: a saloon singer.

Although he was vehemently against clubs, my Daddy never fought my career. When I was growin’ up, he’d always tell me, ‘If you do what you like, you’ll never have work a day in your life.” And I’ve never had to work a day in my life. I’ve never, ever had to do anything but sing.

BEVERLY THE SALOON SINGER

–So where did you start singing professionally at age nine? You started by singing country, right?

Yes, with a band. On the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. They had a show every Saturday night and they had a little show before that, I think it started at 6:30 it was an amateur show. And eventually you won your way into being on the big show. And that’s what I did. Eventually became a regular on the show and that’s what I did.

And I still do country music occasionally. When I go to Branson in November I’m going to be doing a show with a man named Paul Eve who does a great Johnny Cash act.

–Who influenced you as a singer?

Oh, gosh. Everybody. There weren’t too many female singers back then—you had Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline. So you had those songs. But I liked Hank Williams—“Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Everybody sang at the Big D Jamboree—it was the Grand Ol’ Opry of Texas. I met George Jones, Faron Young…my favorite always will be Mickey Gilley–I love him.

Elvis was there in my very, very early years.

–Wait–You knew Elvis? This is news to me.

I’m not gonna go into my relationship with Elvis. I’m not gonna do that.

[long, silent pause]

–Well, Beverly, maybe you’ve said enough!

I sent you a picture of what I looked like back then. And I was the type of person that Elvis liked. I’ll just leave it like that.

–You continue to fascinate, Beverly.

She ain't tellin!

In Dallas Beverly met the Weinstein brothers—Abe who ran the Colony Club, and Barney who ran the Theater Lounge, which was around the corner from the Colony. Both were high-class nightspots which featured strippers and well as bands, singers and comedians. Beverly would sing in both the Weinstein clubs (she’s frequently been described as a stripper, which she only tried briefly). Equally nearby was the Carousel Club, a rougher establishment run by none other than Jack Ruby. While Beverly would never work at the Carousel, she’d hang out there, and she became close to Ruby.

I didn’t sing country downtown. I sang country at the Big D Jamboree–when I got to Abe’s Colony Club, it was strictly show tunes. Abe Weinstein enticed me to come downtown and work at his club. When my Mom and Dad found out, my Dad went ahead and signed the papers to work down there, because I was bound and determined that I was gonna be a saloon singer. So he figured it was better if they knew what was going on rather than me sneaking around.

–You were only 14! You must’ve been very determined kid.

Well, I’m still kind of…determined.

–How did you meet Abe Weinstein?

You know, I really don’t remember how I met him. I’m tryin’ to think who it was that took me over to the club. They had an amateur strip night there. I was a baby. We’d sneak into these clubs and these friends of mine were trying to talk me into it—I said, “Uh-uh. I’m not doing that. No.” Some people that came to the Big D Jamboree—B.C. and H.E. Farrell were there at the club, knew Abe and introduced me—“She’s a real good singer. You oughta listen to her.” And that’s how I got started.

–Now, you did strip very briefly billed as The Masked Debutante. You wore a little face mask so your parents wouldn’t find out, right?

When the Theater Lounge moved to Commerce Street downtown I decided, “OK, I’ll try that.” I did. But I knew if my Daddy ever walked in and caught me doin’ that…uh- uh. NO. But I wanted to try it and did.

When I’m giving my talk about the Kennedy assassination one of the first questions the kids ask—adults, too—is, “Were you a stripper?” and my answer is, “Well, no–I tried it once, but I’ll be honest with ya: the men in the audience kept yelling, ‘Put it back on!’ So I figured it wasn’t my calling in life.”

–Abe was a good guy?

He was. Him and Barney both. All I can say is they were very, very good to me. The way I went to work there fulltime is a story unto itself.

I was workin’ at Six Flags over Texas singing at the Crazy Horse Saloon. And Layfe Phypher, the food and beverage manager, was friends with Abe and he said, “Hey Abe, there’s this blonde at the Crazy Horse and you’re really gonna like her.” He said, Layfe, I know her—she’s worked for me for years! He doesn’t tell him I’m a singer, not a stripper, OK?

Just that I worked for him for years. So Layfe goes to my boss and tells him that I’m a stripper. So they call me into the office and they bombard me with questions and basically they’re going to fire me. And they have a detective follow me twenty-four hours a day.

And I said, “Number one, it’s none of your business what I do or don’t do and secondly, I was thinkin’ about quittin’ anyway. So we’ll call it a basic disagreement. I’ll leave, and you just get over whatever you think you’re over.” And I walked out.

I got in my car and drove straight down to the Colony Club. I had not really worked there, I was still in school! I went there parked my car and walked through Abe’s office door and I said, “OK, this is deal. I’ll be at work next Monday night. This is how much money you’re gonna pay me, and I have an unending contract.

Abe said, “What are you talking about?!?”

I told him exactly what happened. I said, “You cost me my job and so you’re gonna pay me twice what I was makin’ at Six Flags.” And he did. I also told Abe, “You’re gonna put on that marquee out there ‘Beverly Oliver–Direct from Six Flags.’ I’m gonna take top billing over your strippers.” Chris Colt hated that.

–How did Abe react to your demands?

He loved it.

–And how old were you?

I was sixteen.

–Where did you get this chutzpah?

I guess I was born with it. I don’t know.

–You had a big following at the Colony.

Oh, yeah.

–Did you sing all kinds of music at the Colony?

I did everything except country at the Colony Club because country wasn’t “in” downtown. That was before country was cool. I’d do stuff like “Fly Me to the Moon.” (Beverly belts out a few lines) I brought the twist to Dallas. And I brought the Swim to Dallas from a big club in California.

–Bubbles Cash, a dancer who was also briefly in Dale Berry’s movies (or maybe not), danced at the Colony Club.

I had to go on after Bubbles but before Chris Colt and Her .45s. And I kept my clothes on, so it so it was kind of a hard act to follow. She would do things that none of the other girls did. She was beautiful. But she was a little raunchier than the rest of the girls. Bubbles was a different character. She was the first one in Dallas that had a boob job done, the silicone implant-type things. She would get up try and shimmy and everything would move but her boobs. And she had this part of her dance where she would get down on the floor and move around and none of the other girls did that. So it was a little hard to follow that act.

Abe didn’t work on Sunday nights–that was his night off–so when the cat’s away the mouse will play—especially this mouse! You know those little wind-up caterpillar toys that you used to could buy that would crawl across the floor. I bought it and covered it to look like a male part of the body. When Bubbles was down on the floor—[laughter]—doin’ that part of her act, I wound that thing up and sent it crawlin’ across the stage. She did the worse thing she coulda done—kick it back under the curtain. I wound it up again and sent it back out! [Much laughter] I was a child! A child working with these adults.

–You also knew Candy Barr, the infamous stripper who, among other things, dated mobster Mickey Cohen and did time for marijuana possession.

She was gone from the club but I met her after she got out of the jail. I met Candy several times. Lovely woman that I think got very mistreated. Especially by the police department. It was completely common knowledge that Candy had had an affair with Henry Wade. And Henry Wade is the one who put her in jail. For less than a half an ounce of marijuana. So what does one deduct from that?

Candy was one of the reasons that the FBI was able to confiscate my film of the JFK assassination without question. She got busted for a half-ounce of marijuana and when they confiscated my film after the assassination I had a can of marijuana right next to my camera. I would’ve never had gotten out of jail. I just wanted them to get whatever they wanted and get out and leave me alone. And let me get on with my job. I would’ve given them my soul if they had asked me for it.

–We’ll get to that. What was the scene at the Colony then? It was much different than Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club, right? A classier joint, shall we say?

Oh, yeah. I wouldn’t even call it a joint. The Theater Lounge was one block behind it and one block over—they were both very nice clubs and many men brought their wives there. We had different types of acts. That’s why Bubbles kind of didn’t fit—because the other girls didn’t feel she belonged there. They thought she belonged over at Jack’s.

Jack’s was a little bit smaller. A little bit lower-class clientele. Now, I loved Jack Ruby. That Jack Ruby that y’all read about is not the Jack Ruby that I knew. He was very nice. He was very generous. I bet you didn’t know that every Christmas he took a bunch of us out to Buckner’s Orphans Home and we handed out new toys and gifts to the orphans. Once a quarter we went to the V.A. hospital and put on a show for the veterans for free. I can just go on and on and on about the generous things that Jack Ruby did that you’re not gonna hear about.

Candy Barr (left) works on her dance steps

–So was Ruby just a pawn?

I think that he was probably a little bit more than a pawn because he was with the Mob and he did have CIA ties. He was OSI back in Chicago before he came to Dallas. Jack was one of the agents who helped break up the baby-selling ring back in the forties in Chicago. He had his good side. Jack had his dreams…he just didn’t know how to make his dreams come true. He was a good human being. He might meet somebody walking down the street when it was cold who needed a coat that he’d never met and he would literally give them the coat off his back.

–Reading between the lines in your book: did Ruby have romantic thoughts about you?

I don’t think so. No, I think I was more of the daughter he never had. Or sister. He and his sister Eva did not get along. He never ever, ever, ever tried to hit on me. And we spent a lot of time together. When we went out of town I had my own room. He never treated me with any kind of disrespect.

–Ruby was protective of you?

Yes, very.

–How did Ruby along with his competition–Abe and his brother?

They didn’t get along. Because Jack did try to hire everybody out of their other two clubs. That’s the one thing he did do. And Jack did copy their shows– he started doing an amateur show. But you don’t have a copyright on those things. It wasn’t any of my business, so I stayed out of it. There was some AGVA [union] issues between them, but I don’t know what they were.

–Would Abe ever talk to you about Jack?

He told me he better never catch me onstage over there. [laughter] “I can’t keep you from being friends with him, but I better not ever catch you onstage over there.” I said, “Well, you never go there anyway.” “No, but I’ve got my eyes over there.”

–Would Jack Ruby discuss the Kennedys?

He never actually specifically discussed the Kennedys, it was just came up if we were sitting there visiting with other people and politics came up. He did not love the Kennedys. He hated the Kennedys. He loved Jackie. He thought she was classy. He hated the father, Joe. He didn’t like Jack Kennedy, he didn’t like Robert Kennedy he didn’t like any of ‘em except Jackie.

Well the only thing that I ever heard him say was they made Scotch cost too much. [The patriarch of the family, Joseph P. Kennedy, had been active in whisky distribution.]

The day of November 22, 1963, Beverly, a babushka scarf wrapped around her head, went to Dealey Plaza to witness JFK’s motorcade make its way through downtown Dallas. She had in her hands a prototype Yashica movie camera given to her by her boyfriend Larry Ronco, and which she used for the first time that day, capturing the assassination as it happened. According to Beverly, shots came from the direction of the infamous grassy knoll, and she saw Kennedy’s head jerk back due to the impact of the attack. Her film would never get developed.

–So tell us how the FBI confiscated your film.

I didn’t go town work ‘til Monday night. To get to the Colony Club you walked up a flight stairs, there was a landing and another flight of stairs into the club. It was very plush—carpeted, tufted leather, very nice. I opened the door and noticed the two men up there standing on the landing. That didn’t bother me, because often people would stand there waiting for the rest of their party to catch up. So I made it up to the landing.

The taller of the two men stepped forward and said, “Miss Oliver?” I said, “Yes?” He introduced himself. He had his FBI identification badge and everything. “We understand that you were at the grassy place”—he didn’t call it the grassy knoll, he said the grassy place—“takin’ pictures when the president was killed.” I said, “I was taking a film.” He said, “Yes.” He says, “Have you had it developed?”

Well, he knew I hadn’t had it developed because they had an SOS out for everything, an all-points bulletin for anything having to do with the assassination. And I said, “No, sir.” He said, “Where is it?” “It’s still in my camera.” “Well, where is your camera?” “It’s right here in my makeup kit.”

He said, “We want to take your film and get it developed and look at it for evidence and we’ll get it back to you in a few days.”

Well, lying right next to that camera in my makeup kit was a Prince Albert can of marijuana. Candy Barr had been sentenced to forty years or something like that for less than a half an ounce. So I squatted down, opened the makeup case up with the lid towards him, handed him the makeup tray, got the camera out, handed him the camera, took the tray, slid it back in and shut the case.

He took the film out—no, he did not confiscate my camera, I don’t know who started that—and gave me my camera back. It was an experimental Yashica camera with a square magazine load. There was a lotta controversy about that—“that camera didn’t exist back then”—well, no it didn’t exist, it didn’t come out until 1965. And at the 35th anniversary of the assassination Yashica sent a man named John Storch down there to do nothin’ but testify about that camera. And he said it would not have been impossible for me to have had an experimental prototype camera in ’63, because they hit the market in November ‘65. Now I have a document from the FBI that says “the film that was taken”—not claimed to have been, not supposed to have been—“the film that was taken by Beverly Oliver was not retained by this office.” Doesn’t say they didn’t have it.

DAVID FERRIE, LARRY RONCO AND THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED POODLE PAINTING

–Was the Carousel Club kind of a gathering place for misfits and outsiders?

Yeah, because of the kind of people that came there, especially during that time period. One of the things I told [Kennedy researcher] Gary Shaw when I talked to him the first time was that David Ferrie was the manager of the Carousel Club. In June or July, 1963, Jack and I went to New Orleans to find a manager and an assistant manager for the club because he was wantin’ to open a club in over in the Turtle Creek area. I don’t know where he thought he was gonna get the money…but we went, and then we get back, and that September this weird little guy that I met in New Orleans—David Ferrie—starts showing up and helped himself to the booze that Jack had hidden—at that time Dallas was still BYOB [Bring Your Own Booze], all we could sell was beer and wine set-ups. Jack had a little private stash for his friends that came in, and this guy would go back and pour himself a Scotch and water and he’d get one of those little personal-pizza things and put it in the toaster. I just assumed he was the new manager—he acted like it. Ferrie was there every night.

David Ferrie

–How unusual a guy was Ferrie?

Oh, my soul. He was weird. He had alopecia. And he didn’t have any eyebrows. And instead of drawing ‘em on with an eyebrow pencil like girls would—he got an oil-based pencil and would draw them on like what clowns wore. He looked like a buzzard.

–This guy Ferrie made quite an impression.

Well, you’d never forget him. Now, [when Beverly first talked to Kennedy researcher Gary Shaw, he] wasn’t showing me pictures of people and askin’ if I knew them—he brought me mug books with hundreds of pictures in them, and I was thumbin’ through and stoppin’ on people that I recognize. I pointed out Ferrie. David said, “Are you sure? This guy?” I said, “Would you forget that face?”

–Was Ferrie nice to you?

Oh yeah, he was nice. He was just strange. Really weird. He’d talk in this language and tell me it was Russian. It may have been Russian, I don’t know!

–Your boyfriend Larry Ronco told you that David Ferrie offered him $50,000 to go to Cuba and kill Fidel Castro?

That’s what he told me. Larry was seriously considering doin’ it. We were sitting on the back steps of the club, out on the back stairs to the dressing room. And he said, “You won’t believe what David Ferrie said to me.” And he told me [about the plot to kill Castro]. I said, “Ha. Well, that’s stupid.” I didn’t know anything about politics, OK? I thought, ‘why would he want to do that?’ Larry said, “Well, it’s a lot of money.” I said, “I know it’s a lot of money, but why would David Ferrie want him killed? You’re not gonna do it…?” Larry said, “Well...”

I mean, I know for sure Larry wasn’t involved in the mob or anything. He wasn’t smart enough. He was smart in what he did—he was a business manager and he managed the Kodak store for Six Flags at that time.

–Which would explain why Larry had the prototype movie camera he gave you.

Oh yeah.

–What happened to Larry Ronco?

He committed suicide. Yeah. His real name was Lawrence Taylor Ronco, Jr. And they lived in Lichester, NY.

–Why did Larry kill himself?

I know nothing about that. I was living in Dallas, it was after [my husband] George died and these guys came to my apartment—they were selling stainless steel cookware. I still have it, I bought it from them. And I had a painting of a poodle up on my wall. It was my poodle Pepi—well I thought that’s who it was. And they said, ‘Where did you get that painting?” I said, “It’s a painting of my poodle Pepi.” He said, “Let me see that. No, this is my mother’s daughter’s. Her renter rented her apartment and stole this from there.”

And I said, “Really? What was his name?” He said, “Larry, Larry, Larry…Ronco.” I said, “Really. Well the painting looks just like my dog.” All white poodles look alike.

I said, “Would you like to have it back?”

He said, “No, she’s dead.”

I said, “OK, I appreciate it. I love that painting very much.” We kind of just started talkin’ and he said, “You do know about Larry, don’t you?” I said, “No after we broke up I eventually lost contact with him.” He said, “Larry killed himself. He shot himself.”

–You knew the dancer Jada Conforto, who was in Larry Buchanan’s Naughty Dallas and who died in a motorcycle crash.

I liked Jada. She was a lost soul. She really was. She was a good person inside, she was just lost. She had no direction in her life. The things I got into I got into on my own it was my own fault because I did have good direction in my life–I had good parents. I just made choices. Jada didn’t have that in her life, y’know? And she was an old soul. She was sweet, I liked her.

–Were Jada and Ruby close?

Yes. Well, until they got into a fight one day. It was just a silly fight. She was a little sex kitten, she really was. She was a cutie onstage. She would always do this little thing with her G-string where the guys always thought she was fixin’ to take her G-string off. (laughs) What the audience didn’t know—and what the other girls didn’t know, except for me, I’m not even sure Jack really knew—she had a flesh-colored G-string underneath her top G-string just in case somethin’ happened. And one night the strap did break. And the vice squad was in there and they almost shut Jack down over it. But it was OK.

–How did Jack Ruby’s death affect you?

I was in my bedroom, and I had drugged myself—I kept myself drugged that whole weekend. I still sleep with the television on 24/7, 365. And I woke up and I saw it on TV and I thought, “Uhhh, I’m dreamin’.” And I went back to sleep. And every time I’d wake up they’d be replayin’ it. It really had an impact on me because Jack had shot the man that he’d introduced to me two weeks before as a friend [Beverly says Ruby had introduced Lee Harvey Oswald to her as a CIA agent]. I thought, “This can’t be.” People ask me all the time, “Are you sure that was Oswald that he introduced you to in the club?” Well, I don’t know if it was Oswald or not, but it’s the same man he killed in the basement of the police station. I recognized him right away.

It should be noted that Jack Ruby intersects with the world of exploitation films in a couple of ways. Dale Berry has told his daughter that he knew Ruby. And then there is the insanely prolific Texas exploitation director Larry Buchanan, a filmmaker who made just about every kind of exploitation movie, specializing in high-concept titles that resulted in blandly executed movies.

In 1964 (Buchanan puts the date as 1958 in the filmography his 1996 autobiography It Came From Hunger! It is the only place I’ve seen with that date) Buchanan made Naughty Dallas, a film centered around Ruby’s Carousel Club (although due to the Carousel’s low ceilings many interiors were shot in Barney Weinstein’s Theater Lounge). Buchanan states in his autobiography that the original title was A Stripper Is Born, and it was to star Candy Barr and tell her story, but he abandoned the idea after “a series of dark threats” from Candy’s various well-connected paramours both in the government and in organized crime.

“The story of Toni Shannon, one of many beautiful Texas girls with stars in her eyes,” the film is notable for its time-capsule footage not only of the Dallas nightclub scene but of such dancers as the infamous Jada Conforto, who brings this rather listless film to life. (Dale Berry is listed in the cast, but I can’t find him.)

During the course of making Naughty Dallas, Buchanan shot short scenes of Ruby “to stroke his overgrown ego” and then claimed the footage had been misplaced at the lab (in truth, he hadn’t bothered developing it). Buchanan backs up Beverly’s statement that Lee Harvey Oswald came to the Carousel—he writes that during the Warren Commission “lab personnel testified that they had seen Ruby with loner Oswald at a back table in our footage” and he also claims any number of cops who patronized the club and its strippers “could have confirmed that Lee Harvey Oswald was in fact a regular at the Carousel.” He maintains all of this was buried at the time at the time of the Warren Commission.

Buchanan would go onto the exploit the assassination himself by rushing out The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald in early 1965—which, like the rest of Buchanan’s work is rather workmanlike, static and threadbare—but is notable for the contemporaneous questions it raised concerning Oswald. Unlike Beverly, Buchanan thought little of Jack Ruby. “He was cheap and a cheat, inarticulate, antisocial, a bully, a trouble-maker, profane and a pathological liar. He was a bisexual who loved to fight, constantly validating his manhood.”

BEVERLY OLIVER, MOVIE STAR

–How did your acting career start?

My first movie? I was in the sixth or seventh grade. My best girlfriend was Linda Hill. And her dad was a set builder for movies. They were filming The Giant Gila Monster (1959), and they needed some extras, so her dad said, “OK, I’m gonna take you girls down there and y’all can try out. And I made it. Got an onscreen shot for about ten seconds. I fell in love with it.

I did the The Street Is My Beat for Irv Berwick. It was the story of a prostitute. I don’t remember much about it. Then I was in Irv’s Strange Compulsion. It was about a guy who had a peeping tom issue—these were all B-rated movies.

Irvin Berwick (1914-1997) started out as a musician, then an actor. “At 14 he was a prodigy, a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall,” says son Wayne, but the real passion of his father’s life would remain actingeven after Berwick became a director “he wanted to be in front of the camera.” Irv worked as a dialogue coach for William Castle and Jack Arnold before helming the minimal, evocative monster movie The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959, featuring a creature cobbled together from the leftover costumes of other sci-fi pictures).

Berwick went on to one of the more idiosyncratic oeuvres in exploitation: a highly interesting noirish drama, The Seventh Commandment (1961), the creepy Hitch Hike to Hell (1977, made for malevolent cheapskate Harry Novak) and the sweaty halter top of a movie that is Malibu High (1979).

The Street is My Beat trailer
The Street is My Beat trailer
Hitch-Hike to Hell trailer
Hitch-Hike to Hell trailer
Malibu High trailer
Malibu High trailer

According to Wayne Berwick, Irv’s son, The Street Is My Beat, had “a kind of sleaze element,” and was his father’s favorite. “He thought that was the best movie that he had ever done.” The picture is currently lost. According to Wayne, “heavy hardcore gangsters were behind that. I remember after a meeting, my Dad said ‘I’m not dealin’ with these people any more. I’ll never see anything ever.’ That’s when he started takin’ money up front. That was my Dad’s thingtake the money and run. He did everything for under a hundred thousand. He was a total charmer…most people really loved my dad.”

Strange Compulsion (1964) is a case study of a troubled voyeur played by (believe it or not) Preston Sturges, Jr. and photographed by great noir lensman Joseph Mascelli. Dale Berry has a bit part as an apartment manager and Beverly artfully disrobes several times before a two-way mirror.

I loved Irv dearly. I was quite young at the time I worked for him—I wasn’t of legal age the first time. He took real good care of me.

He was precious. A gentle person. I don’t like rowdy, hateful people. I don’t like mean people, or people who all they want to do is sit around and talk negativity about other people. Just like on my Facebook page. As you already know, I support Trump with every fiber of my being. ‘Course, I got a lot of flack for it. Finally I just got tired of it and I told people, “This is my sandbox, it is not your sandbox. It’s my sandbox. If you want to spout off you go to your sandbox. You spout off in my sandbox and I’m gonna block you.” And I’ve probably blocked about a thousand people. I just don’t like it. It’s like the old saying—if you can’t say something nice, just keep your mouth shut.

The other thing I try to live by is, if I’m not part of the problem—and I’m not part of the solution—it is none of my business.

–OK, Beverly: Hot-Blooded Woman and Dale Berry. What do you remember?

I don’t remember it. I’ve never seen it. You know what? I’ve never even seen all of JFK. I just don’t go see what I did. [Beverly was a technical advisor on Oliver Stone’s JFK film and appeared briefly as a waitress in a bar scene set at Ruby’s Carousel Club, though most of the scene was cut. Lolita Davidovitch plays Beverly in the movie. She had wanted the part herself. As stated in Nighmare in Dallas, “The thought of someone beating Beverly out of playing herself was bizarre. How can someone be more you than yourself?”]

Beverly, about to shoot Dale
Detective Dale Berry: “Drop it, you broad!”

–You remember nothing about Hot-Blooded Woman?

I remember dancing on the bar, because I sang a song I loved. I wrote the song. [Editor: the song is missing from the film.]

–You never saw it at a movie theater?

Uh-uh.

–Remember anything about the director, Dale Berry?

Uh-uh.

–What about that great scene in the nuthouse with the woman who talks to her baby, which is a doll?

No.

–There’s a scene where you stop to pray outside. Which is interesting in terms of the rest of your life.

Hmmm. I don’t remember it. [much laughter]

–There’s some weird footage of you promoting the movie Blindfold online.

I do remember that. That starred Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale. Jim Moran is the guy promoting it with me in that clip. He was trying to prove that if you stayed blindfolded to where you couldn’t use the other senses, your body would take over. We did a lot of very interesting things—what they don’t show is I actually climbed out of a helicopter, down a little rope ladder onto the roof of some building. [laughs]

During her days at the Colony Club, Beverly was introduced to diet pills by a local doctor. “He gave me some little green and white dexamyl spansules to take the weight off me,” she says on The Joyful Gypsy album. “It gave me the energy to perform my show–what kids today call speed.” Then she began to taking sleeping pill “to counteract the speed I took that day…I was goin’ to five different doctors and then five different drugstores. After a while they still caught on, so I had to make a connection with a pusher to get the pills.” That led to “pot, cocaine, hash, heroin…anything that I wanted. That also got me into a faster moving, more glamorous, more exciting group of people…It was in this group that I met a man who was a professional gambler and fell in love with the exciting life. I married at a young age.”

MARRIED TO THE DIXIE MAFIA

Beverly married George Albert McGann on July 31, 1966. An infamous member of the Dixie Mafia, McGann was a gambler from Big Spring, Texas. Johnny Hughes, a Texas gambler who played poker and gin rummy with McGann, wrote that “George was a real mystery man” who’d “show up in the middle of the night at some poker game. He seemed to mostly lose.” According to Hughes, McGann “often told cryptic stories, talked in riddles and hinted at a dark side.” A natty dresser, if you told George that you liked his watch or sweater, he’d say, “It’s for sale.” (Some suggest that McGann and his associate R.D. Matthews were involved in the Kennedy assassination.) Beverly was head over heels, and even help sand cards so George could cheat the other players. “He knew how to win,” according to Beverly in her book. “Everything about him smelled like money.”

–George McGann was fun to be around initially?

Initially, yeah. We had good times. He was a very brilliant man. That’s what his problem was—his IQ was like, 162. He was one of these people that his IQ was so high he was stupid, y’know? He wasn’t challenged. Life was not challenging to him. That’s why he had to be a gangster.

–Abe Weinstein had warned you about George?

Yeah. I was already smittingly in love. You know how bad boys are.

–So who ran in McGann’s crowd?

Carlos Marcello, the Campisis here in Dallas. Do you know the name R.D. Matthews? He was the best man at our wedding. R.D. was a bully. He was already getting old by the time I came on the scene. And he had to huff and puff a lot to make his presence known. I don’t really know how to explain R.D. He was very dangerous, I can tell you that. Excessively dangerous.

–Did that ever scare you?

Yes. Oh yeah.

–Did R.D. ever threaten you?

No.

–Because you were with George?

Yeah, but I’m not so sure R.D. wasn’t afraid of me. [dark chuckle] Because back then I carried all the time. A .22 double-shot Derringer.

I don’t think I’d want to cross you.

All I know is that a few years ago when I took some copies of the death-threat letters that came in the mail to the federal marshals in Lubbock—these were letters I got involving the Kennedy assassination, I thought maybe they could get some fingerprints off them–they said, “Beverly, let me tell you somethin’, honey. If they know you like we know you, they’re not gonna give you a chance to get your gun loaded first.” I said, “Speaking of that, do you think you could get some new tapping equipment in Ranger? [Beverly lived in Ranger, Texas at the time] It’s embarrassing when your mother calls and says, ‘Honey, is your phone tapped?’”

And he said, “Our equipment there in Eastland County is a little antiquated.” [laughs] He didn’t say, “We don’t have your phone bugged.”

–You knew Carlos Marcello?

Oh, yeah. He was a typical Godfather. Just like the movies.

–I take it these characters were charmed by you?

One time in Dallas we were sittin’ in the club called Omens? Club, George, R.D. Matthews and a guy in Fort Worth named Bill Jerden, he was the godfather of Fort Worth—well, the Lieutenant. I was singing. They like the song “Ace in the Hole.” They got into tipping me to singing the song and I got ‘em up to a thousand dollars apiece to sing that “Ace in the Hole.” I made four grand that night.

George McGann was a killer. Beverly watched him gun down an associate named Truman Carter who’d been accused of being a snitch. According to Beverly’s book, one night at a joint called George’s Club, when McGann shot Carter, Truman’s “face froze in disbelief as the room exploded in the loud crack of gunblast…the first slug fatally ripped through his chest…Business was business. The party was over.” McGann’s use of his .44 was so frequent “Beverly frequently wore the faint fragrance of gunpowder.”

–You saw George murder an associate named Truman Carter point-blank. Is that correct?

Uh-huh. Yeah. Unloaded a gun on him. George was a dangerous character.

–George carried a .44 named Betsy.

Yes. Little Miss Betsy. A .44 Llama.

Llama Gun - later model

–You looked down the barrel of that gun, correct?

Yeah, but George was a smart man. Any time he pulled the gun on me he’d be smart enough to remove the firing pin from mine before we went to sleep at night. You know how I know? Because I always told him if he ever pulled a gun on me he better kill me, because if he didn’t, I’d kill him when I went to sleep. So he’d take my revolver and take the firing pin out.

–What a relationship. A lot of fireworks, I take it.

Uh-huh. Yeah. But he was a very, very dangerous and conscienceless man. George had no conscience at all.

–That’s a scary statement. When did you realize he had no conscience?

When he and R.D. killed Tony Gennaro.

–In your book he just blows that murder off when you ask him about it.

Yeah. And we got married less than a week before in their home. Our wedding was in their home.

–Beverly, you strike me as a sensitive person with a large heart. How did you deal with what was going on around you?

I went into the self-protection mode. Like I said: if I’m not part of the problem, and I’m not part of the solution. It’s none of my business.

BEVERLY FINDS THE LORD IN BIG SPRING

Things were not looking good for George McGann. “My husband was tried and convicted, sentenced to twenty years in the federal penitentiary,” says Beverly on The Joyful Gypsy. A judge let McGann out on an appeal bond “on the condition that we would move to Big Spring, Texasthat was where his family was.” George did not refrain from criminal activity, however. And when the couple lost their baby George, Jr. just hours after he was born, Beverly was shattered and retreated into drug abuse. “I felt I didn’t have anything to live for. My husband was fixin’ to go to the penitentiary for twenty years and my child was dead…I started mainlining heroin to ease the pain in my heart.” Somehow in the middle of it all, Beverly wandered into a church thirty minutes late, heard evangelist Angel Martinez preach and her life was changed overnight.

–Tell me about these days in Big Spring. Some of the worst times, but also the salvation—literally–of your life.

Yes. It was. We’re going to be there this coming March doing a revival in Big Springs. I actual have a lot of emotional attachment to Big Springs.

–Why is that?

The number one reason is it’s where I met Christ. And I still have a lot of good friends. A lot of sweet memories. A lot of people that picked up my pieces and helped put me back together.

–At first it was a dark time in your life?

Very, very dark.

–Ever think of giving up completely?

Oh yeah. I sure did.

–George went berserk when you started telling his mobster buddies what you witnessed the day of the Kennedy assassination. He even destroyed your Kennedy memorabilia. Do you think he was involved?

Y’know, I don’t know. I know that he burned all my Kennedy memorabilia the night we had that fight. When he jerked me out of Campisi’s club, he told me I was never to speak of it ever again.

There are times when I think he might have been involved on the peripheral, but I don’t wanna believe it. There are some pictures I can show you of some things that happened in Dallas but I’m not gonna share it over the Facebook. I don’t think George was high enough up the ladder to really know anything—until after the fact.

–It’s been stated that George could’ve been responsible for upwards of thirty murders. An exaggeration?

No. Captain Paul McCaghren told me that George was accounted with nineteen murders in the state of Texas at the time of his death. George was a hit man.

–At some point you took 20K from George in order to escape, but he had some Mexican gentlemen come and kidnap you.

From the front of my mother and Daddy’s yard, yes. I was leaving him. And so I took the money—I don’t remember how much, I just took whatever I could find and packed up all I could get in my car and I drove to my parents’ house on DeWitt in Southview, Texas. It was a little, bitty plain house, but they were gone. And they had watched my parents’ house. I went out to get the mail at the mailbox on the street and they grabbed me.

It had nuthin’ to do with the money. It had to do with knowledge George thought I had. They took me to Ciudad Acuña, right across from Nuevo Laredo, and they tied me up to the four poster bed and they shot me full of heroin. That’s how I got addicted.

I had been joy-poppin’ heroin, but had not been mainlining heroin. And they shot me full of heroin. Then George came in ten fourteen days later and he stood over me—he looked like something out of a movie—and he said, “Now you will stay with me. Or you’ll get out on the street to support your habit.”

–Beverly, how exactly did you live through this?

That what I think about—although I try not to, because that’s the past. The interesting thing about the things that God brought me to—and the things that he protected me from—if I ever do have a shadow of a doubt, and Satan tries to sneak into the corner some way and tell me that God isn’t real, I know He is. [dark chuckle] That’s the only explanation for why I’m here. God’s not through with me yet!


–Do you recall the last time you saw George?

Right before he walked out the door. He was standing at the doorway, just outside it. I was on the inside of the door I said, “George, won’t you please just ask the Lord to come into your heart? If you ask him to save you and believe that He will, He will save you and He will give you the strength to get out of this way of life.”

And he said, “Beverly I will someday, but not today. I’m young and I’ve got too much life to live. But I will…someday.” And at 4 o’clock the next morning he was shot four times in the back and it ended his life.

Through It All
Through It All

–Do you know why he was murdered?

I think it had to do with the gang war that was going on. George and this guy Creeper killed this one man and dumped his body…I think it was over that. A revenge killing. Gang war. Because after George’s death there was a big gang war that happened.

George’s funeral was the first time in history (as far as I can find out) that a Baptist preacher and a Catholic priest did a funeral together. At the time the Father said, “Sometimes we’re so busy burying other people we don’t pay attention…we never know when our time is coming up.” A week later he was dead. Died of a heart attack.

One of the things I get accused of being a liar about is the thing about Nixon and the Fountainbleau Hotel in Florida. And that’s because I’m misquoted. I did not see Nixon in the hotel. See my husband had been charged with receiving, and concealing a threatening conspiracy, and had been tried, convicted and sentenced to twenty years in the federal penitentiary. Two ten-year terms to run consecutively, and if they could get the conspiracy kicked out—found unconstitutional, which it is—then they would have to kick the other charge out, too, because they were tried together. And that’s what we were going to Florida to do, OK?

–Did he tell you he was meeting with Nixon?

Yes—well, he didn’t tell me that he was meeting with Nixon. I heard the phone conversations between he and RD. and the phone conversations. RD says, “According to [attorney] Joe Champion, if we can get these charges dropped, they’ll have to drop the other. Then you’ll be home free. You won’t have to go to the pen.”

That’s how it started out—“if we can get the money to Nixon’s people…” We didn’t talk about it on the plane. And it looked better for his wife to show up, for a lady to be there, than two men to show up alone in suits at the Fountainbleau.

Let me ask you this: if you, your wife and RD Matthews get on a plane to go see Nixon. In Florida. And you check in the Fountainbleau Hotel. Under an assumed name. And the next morning there’s a knock on the door George and RD come in they’re dressed in suits and ties and they’re gone for, I don’t remember how long but long enough to have had a meeting with somebody—they come back, we pack, we get on the plane we come home. The following October—the 29th—George was murdered. I never thought about that meeting ever again.

Then in January I got a letter. It was addressed to George, and it said that Supreme Court of the United States had expanding conspiracy to be unconstitutional, therefore the charges against George Albert McGann have been dropped.

So do I have a right to believe he met with Nixon?

–How did you feel seeing that letter?

Well, I knew what happened. Just one more thing down the line.

–Did you feel alone in the world at the time?

Except for the new friends that I had made at the church. They picked up the pieces and put me back together.

–What made you wander into that Baptist church thirty minutes late, Beverly?

I was using heroin at that time. I was driving around, just wandering…George was still alive then and he’d gone off on a bookmaking operation in Lubbock when he was supposed to be confined to a fifty miles radius of Big Spring, but that’s what makes people criminals—they don’t obey the law. I was by myself. I was just lonely and literally wanting to die.

I had never driven down that street before, and a light had shined upon the sign—it said, “Revival in Progress, Dr. Angel Martinez.” Well, I was familiar with the word ‘revival’ because I had come from Assembly of God churches when I was a child. The God I had heard about was somewhere in outer space, and we didn’t have doctors preaching at Assembly of God churches back then. I felt drawn. I can’t explain it. It was just like something drawing me there, and there was a parking spot right in front of the church. So I pulled in there and set there a minute or two thinking, “I’m not goin’ in there, I’ll sit here a little while.” And something kept pulling and drawing me…I walked up there twenty stairs, and as I got to the door, I looked at my watch and church had been in progress for thirty minutes. And under my own power, just me, not feeling that urgency, I would’ve never walked in there late, but I did. I opened the door. And just like God had it planned there was an empty seat on the back row—in a Baptist church during revival. That never happened back in the sixties.

I didn’t get saved that night, but I went home and I set my alarm for midnight to get up and shoot up—I was shootin’ up in six hour intervals so I wouldn’t get sick, I hated those withdrawals. But I didn’t need a shot. I wasn’t shaky, I wasn’t nervous. I set the alarm for 2, got up at 2, same thing. 4, same thing. 5. Got up at 10…I never had another fix since them. But I carried the paraphernalia around with me for months, even though I was takin’ a chance of getting busted and being sent to the pen because I didn’t understand God’s healing power—nobody told me about that. I have not had a shot or a fix of any kind since then.

That's What Jesus Means To Me
That's What Jesus Means To Me

–That defies belief, Beverly.

Uh huh. I have met other people that’s it’s happened to, too. The only explanation I have is this: I had become so sick of the creature that I had become—I knew better, I wasn’t raised that way—I had become so sick of the thing I’d become, I couldn’t even stand to look at myself in the mirror. And I was so willing to give up anything that would come between me and my Lord that He took it away. That’s the message of my “He’ll Do It Again” song: I also know that what he’s done for others, he’ll do for you. I had to have an emergency heart stent because I was 140 pounds overweight, OK? No different than heroin. I got rid of it. That was Lord, too.

THE BABUSHKA LADY SPEAKS…RELUCTANTLY

–In 1970, you met one of the early (and most dogged) Kennedy assassination researchers, Gary Shaw, and started talking about what you witnessed.

I didn’t start talking! He started dragging everything out of me. I never wanted to get involved. Ask me if I’ve regretted it. I never, never, ever intended to become public about Kennedy. Never did.

–There was nothing for you to gain.

…and everything to lose. Such as my life. [laughter]

Jerry Wayne Bernard, a singer and preacher, was the musician one week at the church I was at, First Baptist Church in Joshua, Texas, and when Gary came to the church—he was a deacon—Jerry said, “Tell Mr. Shaw where you were the day Kennedy was killed.” What was I gonna say, “No, Jerry?” So I just gave him a bare little skeleton of where I was that day, thinkin’ that was gonna be the end of the conversation. But no, it wasn’t.

He started again at dinner that night after church. I stayed in Gary’s house that week.

When we got into his den after everybody at the dinner table was getting bored with the conversation, he suggested we move to the den. It was a long narrow den and all of the Warren Commission volumes were were sitting maybe eight feet from me. I didn’t know who this guy was, I’d never seen a volume of the Warren Commission—not one volume, let alone all of ‘em. I thought, “Who is this guy? Why would a normal human being have the Warren Commission Report?” I’m goin’, “Naw I don’t know who this is and I’m gonna shut up.”

–But you didn’t shut up.

Yes I did. I wasn’t talkin’ freely. I was stayin’ in Gary’s home—he could’ve come in and slit my throat any time he wanted to. And put poison in my food! (laughs)

But we’ve gotten very close over the years. I love him to death. He’s precious. And he’s one of the few that I’ve met—I’m making a judgment when I say this—that’s in it totally completely honestly because he wanted to see JFK’s murder solved. He doesn’t care about making money out of it. He has put his life on the line, he’s lost a family over it. But I didn’t ever agree to help. I’d do the least extent possible to answer his questions.

–But you did testify on March 12, 1977 for the House Select Committee.

We lived five miles down a dirt road in west Texas, a big huge home on 810 acres. Felt pretty safe out there. We didn’t even have a phone first three years we lived there—this was before cell phones. They finally brought us a phone line. One day I’m sitting in my living room, the phone rings and I answer it. This voice on the other end says, “Miss Oliver?” And I said, “Uhhhh, no. Used to be Miss Oliver.” “Oh—excuse me, is this Mrs. Massegee?’ “Yes it is. Who am I speaking to?” “ is Jack Moriarty with the House Select Committee.” I didn’t know what the House Select Committee was. He said, “We would like to come by and interview you question you about the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.” I said, “Excuse me, I don’t talk to people about that.” Click. I hung up on him.

Phone rings again. “Mrs. Massegee?” Click. He rings back and says, “Don’t you dare hang up the phone on me again. I have subpoena power. And If I have to I will subpoena you and drag you out of that house on that mountain”—so he knew where I lived and everything—and I will take you to jail but you are gonna talk to me. We will do it nicely over a cup of coffee, or we will do it under a subpoena, that choice is yours… I am not the National Enquirer, I am with the House Select Committee on Assassination.”

I made an agreement with him to meet them—I wouldn’t let them come to my house, but I made an agreement to meet at my in-law’s house. My father-in-law was the pastor at the first Baptist Church in DeKalb.

So we did. I gave them my sworn testimony. They taped it. And it was two hours long, OK? They wanted to do it with just me in the room, I said, “No sir, I’ve learned my lesson. I do not trust you people with the government and my husband’s gonna be sittin’ right here with me. And they said, “Well, we just don’t do it that way. I said, “Well, you’re gonna do it that way this time—or you’re not gonna do it.”

–Somehow I bet they did it your way, Beverly.

They did. But when I saw the printed copy a couple of years ago it was only thirty minutes long. And I gave them a two hour interview. It was an hour-long cassette tape, they turned it over and the tape ran out on the other side.

–What happened to the rest of it?

I do not know. They just edited it to say what they wanted to say.

Beverly had embarked on a new career in the evangelical world, singing and performing at churches everywhere. While singing at a Southern Baptist Convention she heard evangelist Charles Massegee preach; the couple soon married in 1971. A three-time president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, Charles is the author of the 2011 book The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist: Islam, Allah, and the Antichrist in Prophecy.

Charles was the founder of Rainbow Sound Records (“A World of Colorful Sounds”), the incredibly prolific Christian label he operated from 1962 until 1982. The label also operated a highly successful backing track operation which Charles explains:

“We had over 4000 members of our Rainbow Sound Track Club, involving church music directors, evangelistic singers, gospel and sacred music singers, and other people interested in soundtracks to sing with and/or record with. For $5.00 a month, they would receive our updated catalog and that month’s demo soundtrack. They could buy the sound track to sing with, and then come to our studios and record an album. Many did! They could pick out the songs they wanted to use, and we charged them $100 a song to record with each soundtrack. If they had a special song we did not have a song track on, we would hire the people to make the track in our studio. We were making new sound tracks every month. We had over 300 full time groups and soloists who would sell anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 copies a year in their appearances. We made our money off of the background tracks and the albums they had to order from us. That’s like having 300 salesmen out selling records for us. We made eight tracks and cassettes [and] also sold studio time. We could provide any kind of background wanted. We approached it as a ministry and not a business to make money. The money took care of itself. It was not long after I sold the company in the 80s [that] they went out of business. They got too greedy and did not last long.”

Beverly would record six albums for Rainbow, and another two featuring her puppet, Erick, who has become something of a cult favorite among certain record collectors.

Sweet Jesus
Sweet Jesus

A LITTLE BOY MADE OF WOOD

–So how did you get involved with ventriloquism?

(throaty chuckle) When Charles and I got married, he had a church program called Jewels for Jesus for the kids. He is a very good sleight-of-hand close-up professional magician, I mean, the best I’ve ever seen. And he would do a little illusion show. They’d get a crown first just for being there. Cardboard crown, but it was pretty. And then they’d get a jewel punched in their crown for being there and two jewels for everybody they brought with them. And at the end of the week we crowned the King, Queen, Prince, Duke and Duchess and they would get prizes for being there. It was an attendance builder.

Charles was so tired of doing that, and I was praying to God to give me something that would draw the kids so he wouldn’t have to do that. And I started studying ventriloquism. I named him Erick because that’s a word that’s easy to say without moving your lips. When you start you don’t want Bobby or Michael—too much lip movement. Now, I could’ve named him King Nebuchadnezar without any lip movement

Erick was carved by Finis Roberston, a ventriloquist dummy artist who lived in Waterloo, Iowa (later in Zephyrhills, Florida). He used my picture on the cover of The Joyful Gypsy to make Erick look like me.

Images from a 1958 Finis Robertson ventriloquism catalogue.
Images from a 1958 Finis Robertson ventriloquism catalogue.
Images from a 1958 Finis Robertson ventriloquism catalogue.


–Do you have a favorite Erick routine?

I like the one that’s in Suddenly the Light. I just like that routine—Erick says, “I just figured out why God created man first…because he didn’t want a woman standin’ around tellin’ him how to do it!” [laughter]

–Did you study other ventriloquists?

I did. I knew ventriloquist Eddie Smith. He helped me to understand about ventriloquism—that there was really no such thing as throwing your voice. You watch TV and you think voices are coming out of that little box. Same thing with ventriloquism, if you’re good. You’re talking, your mouth is not moving, so the people watching, their brain in telling them that little dummy sittin’ on your lap is talking—when it’s not.

–Did it take you a long time to learn?

There’s no study to it. It’s just a matter of learning it. There was a school called Maher’s School of Ventriloquism and I did get their tape. What they were teaching would destroy my singing voice—and that was my way of making a living so I wasn’t gonna do that. I taught myself. I developed my own technique, and it increased my singing voice three octaves and I use words that other ventriloquists won’t even attempt to use.

I teach people puppeteering and ventriloquism are two separate talents, OK? And if you learn them simultaneously one or or the other of them will suffer. I have a real good friend, I’m not gonna tell you what her name is—she’s very funny, very hilarious, and she moved her mouth almost like Edgar Berghen did, because she learned them simultaneously. I practiced ventriloquism for six months before I ever got a dummy. And then I practiced with him for six months before I ever made an appearance.

–Where is Erick when he’s not performing?

He’s in a suitcase out in the office. I have to do him sometimes when the family comes over. My brother-in-law—he’s dead now, but if I didn’t bring Erick, he would get madder than a wet hen. And they used to bring Erick Christmas presents.

Since that movie Chucky came out a lot of kids are afraid of him. And I don’t take him to old folks’ homes, either. Or kindergartens, because they don’t understand.

I’m not bragging, but I really don’t have any lip movement. I was in this nursing home and did the routine where he kicks and screams and doesn’t want to get in the suitcase. These two ladies accosted me as we were leaving—“You are going to have to get that little boy out of that suitcase, because he’s gonna smother!” Well, I took him out of the suitcase and carried him out.

And then one this lady in a church, she had a little boy about five years old she came up and said, “Will you please take Erick out of the suitcase and let my little boy see him and touch him and see that he’s made out of wood?”

I said, “Yeah, but why?”

She said, “Because he thinks that Erick’s real, he’s gonna smother in the suitcase and my son’s been having nightmares.” I said, “Well, certainly.” So I advise people: don’t let your little bitty kids get up unless they’ve got an older sibling or you come up here with em. They seem to do OK if their parents are with ‘em or older brothers.

–Do you remember Erick’s first appearance?

Oh, yeah. It was in 1973 at a bible school in a church in Miami, Florida with a pastor friend of ours, Marvin Nobles.

–Were you nervous?

No. I’ve never, ever, ever been nervous onstage. Not even as a child. I remember people going on about having butterflies–I’ve always been very confident no matter what I was doing. I was gonna go out there and give it my best, it either worked or it didn’t work.

Pastor Pickin'
Pastor Pickin'

–Was Erick a hit from the get-go?

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And he still is! We got a letter not long ago from a pastor friend of ours and it said, “Dear Erick—I want to invite down to our church for a revival. You can bring your Mom and Dad if you want to.”

Now evangelism is not what it used to be. Any town I’d go to, I’d be on the TV morning shows. I always get there thirty forty minutes early to give the cast a chance to get comfortable talking to a little boy made out of wood. Because people just aren’t comfortable doing that. And it failed—not ever—not one time did they not put a microphone on him. And I’d look at them and say, “That’s not necessary.”

–How many Christian ventriloquists are there?

The first was Eddie Smith, he’s still in the ministry. And a lady named Geraldine Ragan, who’s a very dear friend. She doesn’t do it in church any more, she does the cruise ships. She’s getting old and tired and about three years ago she wanted to know if I wanted to check out the cruise ships. I said, “No, I’m satisfied with what I’m doin’.”

I’ll tell you a funny story about Erick. I don’t mind if people in church record what I do, but this one little boy had one of those old-fashioned recorders. He was having problems with it and he couldn’t get it to record. His daddy walked down the aisle, and instead of walking across the back and down that side of the aisle that his son was on, he walked across right in front of me. And Erick followed him with his big eyes, lookin’ at him like “I can’t believe you’re doin’ that.” And just as he gets in front of his son with the recorder and me onstage, Erick looks at me and says, “Y’ know, some people will do anything to keep from spendin’ ten dollars on an album!”

A friendly competitor.

Charles and Beverly (along with son Rocky Shane) traveled the country in an Executive Motor Home visiting churches and revivals all over the nation to spread the gospel. On February 28, 1977, the couple gave birth to a son, Trey, but he died when nearly three months old from a mysterious illness. Beverly says in her book that she received threatening calls telling her not to talk to the House Select Committee before her testimony. In the wake of her baby’s death she was wracked with guilt: “Did they take Trey? He was perfectly healthy until he died.” It would not be until the birth of their daughter Pebbles that the Massegees would learn the exact cause of Trey’s death—and the rare illness that would also nearly end Pebbles’ life.

A GIRL NAMED PEBBLES

–Tell me about your daughter, Pebbles.

She’s a miracle in every sense of the word. My boy Trey died in ‘77 of the same thing Pebbles has. It’s Primary hyperoxaluria and for short, doctors call it oxalosis. I think about 250-300 cases in the world. And I had two of them.

–You didn’t find out that Trey actually had the same thing until after his death, right?

The doctors knew Trey had had oxide crystals all in his body—they said it was oxalosis secondary acute leukemia? I believed doctors—ninety percent of the people I ran around with were doctors and nurses—and there was only one paragraph in the whole medical library about it. There were two forms—the secondary form, which is caused by the ingestion of antifreeze–and also from the bowel reconstruction surgery they’d do back then to help you lose weight. Then there’s the primary form, which was genetic.

And I kept studying it and I kept studying it and I found another paragraph that said the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis was doing a study on it.

When Pebbles was born it wasn’t easy to get pregnant with her. I had been sterilized when I conceived her, so they had to tie my tubes back together. I was in my thirties, we were travelin’ all the time and it was a collective decision that I probably didn’t need to have any more children, so they tied my tubes. I had my tubes put back together before the days of microscopic surgery and they didn’t think it was gonna work, anyway. But it did. It took me two and a half years to get pregnant, so it was a miracle that I ever got pregnant in the first place. Then Pebbles was born with what she has, and we started going through the same nightmare.

When she came down with renal failure over in California, the doctors told me she just had a bladder infection. I said, “No—I’m gonna get on a plane and go to Dallas and ask some people to help me.” I told the doctors, “Hey, this is the genetic form.” So I got on a plane and her doctor, her pediatrician and my OBGYN met us at the airport. And they about thought I was crazy. Because Pebbles looked perfectly healthy. I said, “No. Let’s just go to the hospital.”

Well, the blood tests were just off the charts. For all practical intents and purposes she should’ve been dead. So I asked the doctor, “Does my husband have time to get back here?” He was in our mobile home driving back the next day. The doctor said, “Oh, sure, she’ll be fine.” Well, the next day their story and changed: Well, if he wants to see her he better get her now.” Charles had already started the drive home.

So my friend Betty got on the payphone, we got the highway patrol department and finally got hold of a Christian highway patrolman and told him what was going on. He said, “Ma’am, you can be at rest. I will find your husband and I will see to it myself that he gets on an airplane.” He found Charles just west of Phoenix and put him on an airplane. Now you want to hear something cold-blooded? He looked me in the face and said, “You just need to accept the fact that your daughter is not going to make it through this and you need to take your four-and-a-half month old organism home and let it die.”

And I looked at him in the face–and of course I’m ballin’ and squallin’–and I said, “Let me tell you somethin’. Pebbles is not an organism. She is a living, breathing immortal soul that’s gonna have a life as long as my God has breath. And I’m not spiritually, mentally or emotionally ready to handle that statement you just made—and one of these days you’re gonna answer for that.” (This doctor’s in Las Vegas doing research. He doesn’t get to see patients anymore. )

So I talked to the doctors about moving Pebbles to Minnesota and they wouldn’t help me. They had decided they were going to make her comfortable. And let her die. Charles had gotten in, and when he got there they told us the horrible death that Pebbles was going to die. And they told us to get the autopsy material back to them so they could study the disease.

And I said, “No.” A chiropractor friend of mine, Dr. Lee Hammer, who practiced kinesiology in Atlanta—he flew in and was treating Pebbles in the hospital. When I made the decision that we were leaving and going to Pebbles to Atlanta, I took the IVs out of her head, out of her arms, out of her legs the catheter out of her bladder and we got on the plane with for all practical purposes a dead child.

Lee and his brother had a practice together, and they took turns through the night takin’ care of her and kept her alive. Well, she coded four times in one night. Long story short, we met Dr. Sherwinter at the Atlanta Shriner’s hospital. He had given us his home number and said, “Call me any time day or night, I’m here to help.” We called him, he said, “bring her in.” I said, “Please give Pebbles dialysis.” He said, “I’m ahead of you. We have a place set up to dilate her—you know it won’t cure her.” I said, “I know it won’t cure her, but it’ll buy us some time until we can find some help.” He said, “Well, we have to build up her platelets, because she’s bleeding at the touch.”

So they gave Pebbles fifty units of pack cells of platelets and she started getting her own platelets. I said, “Please help us get to the University of Minnesota, they’re the only people that study this disease.” The doctor said, “I’m ahead of you. There’s a bed waitin’ on her. All we have to do is get her strong enough to make the flight.”

A week later on December the 1st, 1981, we flew to University of Minnesota. On January the 28th 1982, they took my kidney and put it in my sixth-month old baby [only the second time such an operation had been done, and the first time for a child with Pebbles’ condition].

And since then Pebbles has had a total of three kidneys. Her last trip was Sept 6, 1996 for a kidney and liver transplant. And she was in the hospital for two and a half years. Her hospital bill was 2 million, 638 thousand dollars. And she’s worth every penny of it. I had to fight to get her here, had to fight to keep her here—it’s just been an up-and-down, glorious ride through the whole 36 years.

Last year we had to have Pebbles treated for hepatitis C–which she’s had all her life, but was giving her cirrhosis in her transplanted liver—and that was 4800 dollars a day for ninety days.

Beverly and Pebbles paint owls.

But Pebbles is just so healthy now. She’s doin’ awesome. If you saw her you wouldn’t know anything in the world had ever happened. She’s beautiful.

And she’s just so innocent and sweet. The other night we went to see Mickey Gilley down in the Houston area. I try to get a motel close to the venue, and this was a real nice motel about a mile away. It was a nice, clean, immaculate motel. We checked in, and before we went down to spend a couple hours with Mickey before the show, we came back to the motel to change. And we’re sittin’ on the bed and Pebbles looks up and she says, “Mother?” and I says, “What, baby?” “Why is there a mirror on the ceiling?” [laughter]

I just told told her. So we didn’t stay there, we went to the Marriott. But Pebbles is just a perfect example that if you want to parent your children, you can still raise an innocent child—and an innocent adult in the 21st century. It just takes work!

–Beverly, you had to give one child up for adoption at a very early age. You lost your child George, Jr and then Trey. You battled drug addiction and witnessed terrible things during your marriage to George. And you nearly lost Pebbles. You’ve spoken often about your relationship with God. Did you ever feel in those dark times that you had encountered the devil himself?

Oooooh, yeah. I’ll tell you when the worst one was–and you’re gonna think I’m insane when I tell you this—but Satan is real. The reason that everybody doesn’t have these personal experiences with him is because he’s not like Jesus, he’s not like God. He can’t be everywhere all the time. God is omnipresent, he can be everywhere all the time and is. That’s what the Bible says. The Devil is like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour…he has to hand-pick his victims. Him and his demons.

The night that Trey was dying—Satan was—while Trey was dying, we were in Selma, Alabama in the hospital I mean literally fighting for his life, going through hell. Because the doctors were even asking me if I had given my son antifreeze, and he’d never had anything but breast milk.

Satan was sittin’ on my shoulder—and it was just as real as I’m talking to you now. He would say to me, “You know that God you serve? You think he loves you? He doesn’t love you. Y’know, he’s already taken one of your children away. He’s gonna take this one, too.”

He said Remember what did the last time? Remember? You got chained. Chained to a needle. Chained to an alarm clock. And you’re gonna do it again. This time you’re not gonna need any help. You’re gonna do it again. You just wait and see. Uh-huh. You think you love Jesus? This was all. Night. Long. All night long.

And of course, I had a total fear of addiction. I would not even take an aspirin I was so afraid of getting hooked on drugs again. And the devil knew my weak spot.

So I just I just kept fightin’ and fightin’ and finally it was somewhere right about 4 AM, just a little bit before. Charles and I got on our knees. And I had a’ prayed. And we prayed for God to be merciful to us and heal Trey if it was within his will—and if it wasn’t that He would at least bless this little two month and 26-day life to be used to its fullest. And that people will be saved.

And I went back in. And at 4:20, as I held him in my arms he went to be with the Lord. And that was a very real experience.

–Beverly, if I were you, those words of Satan would’ve haunted me a little bit.

They did. They did. And oh, don’t think they didn’t when we were having another baby and she was born with the same thing.

–So faith that got you through all that?

Yes. It was faith. And going back and believing what God said in his word. Believing that God is not a liar. Believing that he meant what he said and said what he meant. And understanding that the way he works is not always the way (laughs) I understand.

You know what? I still question it. I still question why God took my children. Nobody in the world loves children more than me—why did God take my children? I still question it.

He was made us to question Him. He made us to be inquisitive creatures. If we were not inquisitive creatures we would never know Him, we would never find Him try to find out who he is and what He’s about. And he doesn’t care if we ask Him why—as long as we are able and are willing to sometime accept His silence as His answer.

SUDDENLY THERE’S IRV BERWICK, AGAIN

In 1979, Beverly starred in a feature film based on the story of her life, Suddenly the Light. According to Charles, it came about when Beverly’s old friend Irv Berwick witnessed Beverly’s testimony and decided it had to be a movie. In this film—which is being shown widely here for the first time and which is not even listed on IMDb–Beverly reenacts the troubled early years of her life, down to shooting up heroin. Erick also appears with Beverly in a church performance.

We started working on the script in February of 1977 with scriptwriter John Buckley and filmed it in July of 1978,” said Charles. “Russell Johnson–the professor on Gilligan’s Island–was to play George, Beverly’s gangster husband. Two weeks before shooting, we had to go with John Yates. John Yates and John Harmon are the only professional actors in the film, even though there were a few with small parts who thought they were…the film is an amateur production in comparison, but it was made with the ministry in mind.”

“I think the budget was around $50,000,”said Wayne Berwick, who recorded the sound. “I was led to believe that they financed it themselves. She and Charles were great people, both incredibly nice. I remember Beverly as being very glamorous and sweet. She had a backstory that was kind of gangster-involved, I was totally intrigued by that.”

“The Dallas premiere of the movie was January 1st, 1979,” said Charles.

“Many people came to see it at the theater that would not normally go inside a church. It was shown in hundreds of theaters that had special runs sponsored by churches guaranteeing a crowd as they invited non-church people to be their guests. On special occasions Beverly and I would make an appearance with the showing of the film. This worked real well, especially after we had been in a revival or crusade in the area–they’d welcome the opportunity to see the film afterwards. We ended up with thirty copies that we kept in circulation among churches and theaters. The Lord is still using the film to encourage and inspire people, and in some cases, bring them to embrace Christianity for the first time.” The original negative and all the prints and were stolen from the Massegee’s storage unit years ago (Charles lent byNWR the sole remaining print to show on the site).

Tell me about Suddenly the Light, Beverly.

I really don’t remember how it came about. I just know it’s been used a lot in penitentiaries. We had a guy who would go around to the prison ministry and use it in prisons. The last record that we had was there was over 20,000 decisions made for salvation and that’s been years ago. I get a lot of compliments on it and a lot of sweet notes.

–Was it hard reliving the traumas of your early life?

Oh, yeah. I wouldn’t do it again.

RETURN TO DEALEY PLAZA

On the anniversary of Kennedy’s death, Beverly returns every year to sing “Amazing Grace.” It is not an easy journey.

–How do you feel when you return to Dealey Plaza?

For a long time I didn’t ever go back. I would literally drive any way I had to drive not to go through Dealey Plaza, until I did the English documentary Man Who Killed Kennedy with Nigel Turner.

I don’t like to go down there now. And the first day of filming JFK the movie they filmed the shot that blew the back of Kennedy’s head off. I puked. Oliver Stone apologized and said “I didn’t realize it still affect you that way.” From that time on, whenever they were going to expose the head, he would tell me so I could leave. I’m not that bad anymore. It has a different effect on me now. I just don’t think about that part of it. I think about the job that lies ahead. I don’t think about so much what is behind and what’s been done. But the call that lies ahead.

–What is the call for you, Beverly?

OK…that is a very hallowed place down there. And it needs to be addressed as such. The blood of our President still cries out for justice (sobbing) from that ground and we still haven’t given him justice yet and it’s almost 54 years later. For liberty and justice for all means Presidents, too.

So when I go down there, it’s not just a place where he was killed. It’s a place where he calls out. For justice.

–So how did the Kennedy assassination impact your life?

Ohhh…I don’t believe anything the government tells me. And I was a Democrat that day. I was raised staunch Democrat. I’m not a Democrat any more. When they tried to tell me I didn’t see what I saw—Uh-uh. NO. I know what I saw. So somebody’s lyin’.

–How did it feel when people doubted your story?

You know, it used to make me mad and it used to hurt my feelings but I finally got to the point where I know what I saw and I know who I am—God knows who I am. I don’t care. Doesn’t bother me anymore.

I won’t argue with them about it. If anybody has a question, I will answer it to the best of my ability, but if they want to argue with me about it, I will turn around and walk off or I will block them on Facebook or whatever.

I don’t have time for that. I was down there less than twenty feet away from the President, I feel it is my historical duty to answer the questions, but I’m not going to argue about it. It’s not my whole life. I have a life.

–Death came a-knocking to many of those around you. Why do you think that is?

I don’t know. I sleep with a gun under my bed. [laughs]I don’t dwell on it. I am one of these people that believe we come into this world with an expiration date stamped on the bottom of our foot. And we’re only gonna go when it’s our time to go.

–You still wish that you had kept your mouth shut?

Oh yeah, I sure do. It would be different, I think, if I had the answer. If I could say to you this this happened and this is why our President was murdered. But I just have a couple of little pieces to that great big huge puzzle. Bad enough to spend your life being called a liar and a hoax…all I really know for sure that happened that day is that the shot that killed John Kennedy came from the right front. And it not only did it change the complexion of America, it changed the complexion of the world.

And I’ve made a lot of people that I consider to be friends through this and there’s a lot of them that I totally disagree with. And there’s some that really disagree with the fact that I believe wholeheartedly the shot the killed the President came from the right front, hitting the temple area–blew the top part out, continued to travel and blew the whole back of his head off. That’s what I saw. And the only thing that would change my mind is if the Lord Jesus Christ comes down and tells me I was wrong—and then we’re gonna have to talk about it.

BEVERLY LOVES TRUMP…AND ROGER STONE

–The boss here at byNWR is obsessed with Trump and wanted to make sure that I asked you about him.

Donald Trump is the best thing since strawberry ice cream. #1, he’s got cojones. You’re not gonna push him around. He’s gonna do what he said he would. He might have to go through three doors to get it done but he will get it done. Or he will die tryin’. The Number 1 reason that I love Donald Trump is because Donald Trump loves America. Donald Trump gives attention to details—if you look on my Facebook page, I have a tweet where he tweeted me to thank me for workin’ for him, basically.

–What song would you sing for President Trump?

Oh goodness. One song, that’s not fair! I’d have to be patriotic. I’d have to do “God Bless the USA.” One of the biggest blessings I’ve had in my career was three years ago in Texas I sang a Memorial Day concert they had at the harbor for about 4000 people there. First three rows wrapped around the amphitheater was the families of slain veterans and I was singing with the international guard orchestra and I got to sing “God Bless the USA.” Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I made it through without crying. But when I got backstage it was over with. That was the most powerful thing I have ever done.

–Is Beverly Massegee concerned about where this country is heading?

No. I guess I look at it differently than most people do. I tell these people that private message me who are scared to death—they’re worried about this thing with Turkey, or this, that and the other thing–I say, You know what? Don’t be worried. None of this matters. As a Christian, you’ve read the last chapter of the book. We win. That’s what matters.”

–I’ve heard you’re friends with Roger Stone. Tell me about Roger.

Roger’s a real good friend of mine. [laughter] He’s the craziest person I ever met in my life. But he is sincere. You either love Roger or you hate him—there’s absolutely no gray area with Roger. None.

Roger Stone with Charles and Beverly Massagee.

–Which camp do you fall in, Beverly?

I love Roger. I’ve done a couple book signings with him. I met him through the Kennedy stuff [Stone is the co-author of the 2013 book The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against L.B.J.]. And we’re gonna be on the same program this November during assassination week in Dallas. We just hit it off.

FINDING LUWANNA JEAN

There’s a chapter in my book called “Luwanna Jean,” about the little baby I gave up for adoption. I found her. In Brush Prairie, Washington.

She’s here in Dallas now. About three years later she made a life-changing decision and moved down here and she’s a very vital part of our family and our lives. It’s just been one of those God things, an absolute God thing.

She’s beautiful, she’s my clone in every sense of the word. And I’m in the process of writing another book about my children. It’s called That Stuff You Call Faith.

It’s gonna take a little while. That’s the mountain that I’m climbing now. I’ve got the forward done. You know when we were kids and it took forever and ever for Christmas to get here? And time moves so slow? When you get to be my age time flies. I finally figured out why. As you get older, the time in front of you gets shorter. The time behind you gets longer. It’s further behind you. Does that make sense? You just have to know when that time moves faster, just live life to its fullest.

–How did it feel to finally find Luwanna?

She was 44 when I found her. She’s 56 now, 55. I’d been prayin’ 44 years to find her. That’s another thing – just because God doesn’t answer your prayer right now immediately, don’t give up, don’t believe He’s not gonna answer you. He’s gonna answer it in His time. In His Plan for your life. And when it’s best.

I think, “What if I had found Luwanna back when Pebbles needed her last kidney? She would’ve thought I was tryin’ to find her to get a kidney for Pebbles.” God’s timing is always perfect. Always perfect.

One of the things Luwanna said to me was, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet you.” I said, “Y’know what? That’s the best thing you could’ve told me.” She said, “What do you mean? That doesn’t hurt your feelings?” I said, “No that is the best thing you could’ve said to me. If you had said, ‘Oh, gee, I’m so glad you finally found me, I’ve had such a miserable life…’ To know that you really had to make a decision to want to see me, your biological mother, tells me that you had a good life. That everything happened that I wanted to happen when I gave you up.”

–You’ve been married 47 years to Charles. What’s the secret to such a successful union?

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? (Laughter) Charles is a good man. You know that song, “A good man is hard to find?” I asked God to send me a guy who walked and talked with the Lord 24 hours a day. Who preaches what he lives and lives what he preaches–and I wasn’t gonna take a chance on him getting away.

Are there any dreams left for Beverly Massegee that haven’t been fulfilled?

I really don’t think so. I accomplish my life day by day. I live each day to see my daughters and my son and my grandchildren grow to be Godly human beings—productive human beings, loving human beings, and they all are that. I have to admit I’m at the age now where I find myself longing more for that day when I hear the Lord say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And that’s what I’m striving for now—to be that good and faithful servant.

–You know what I like about your story, Beverly? There’s a happy ending.

Yes…there is.

Special thanks: the Larry Buchanan quotes came by way of his 1996 autobiography It Came From Hunger! Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister As well as the audio commentary from The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald/The Other Side of Bonnie & Clyde Something Weird DVD. Robert L. Bentley's Dangerous Games is the definitive book on the 1961 Ashley/Lima murder case.

BONUS: HAVING FUN WITH BEVERLY AND ERICK OFFSTAGE

Can’t get enough of Beverly and Erick? Luckily our ace sound recordist Peter Conheim had the deck rolling while our favorite duo were warming up.

Having fun offstage with Beverly and Erick
Having fun offstage with Beverly and Erick