Milo Speriglio

(1938-2000)

“Milo is half the size of Cannon, not nearly as handsome as Mannix and a lot shorter than Barnaby Jones… He’s a quiet, soft-spoken guy, on the small side, with glasses. He could pass for a bank clerk. But he’s handled more cases than all the television sleuths combined, about 35,000 over the years.”
William Overend (1976, The Los Angeles Times)

MILO SPERIGLIO was an author and honest-to-goodness Hollywood dick whose fifties-era adventures are so over-the-top it’s hard to believe they’re all true.

And maybe they weren’t.

He was, by most accounts, a notorious gloryhound, fashioning himself after the TV private eyes of the era, and Peter Gunn in particular, with a nose for celebrity cases and far-flung conspiracy theories. He handled more than 35,000 cases in his 20–year career, and he made sure that more than a few of them gained the attention of the public.

In 1959, he was just a rookie, working for the Nick Harris Detective Agency of Los Angeles, when he was assigned to investigate the 1959 alleged suicide of George Reeves, television’s Superman. The client was Helen Besselo, Reeves’ mother. He swore until his dying days that Reeves had been murdered, and there were certainly some serious questions surrounding the death, both about the evidence and the investigation itself.

“”Nearly everyone in Hollywood has always been led to believe that George Reeves’ death was a suicide. Not everyone believed it then, nor do they believe it now. I am one of those who does not.” In fact, Speriglio served as the inspiration for Louis Simo, the private detective played by Adrien Brody in the 2006 film, Hollywoodland, a fictionalized retelling of the life–and especially the death–of Reeves.

(It should be noted that Helen Besselo had previously hired hot shot Hollywood lawyer Jerry Giesler to petition for a reinvestigation of the case after it was ruled a suicide, although the results of that second autopsy–except for a previously unnoted series of bruises of unknown origin about the head and body–were the same as the first. With no evidence contradicting the official finding, Giesler announced that he was satisfied that the gunshot wound had been self-inflicted, and withdrew. He was never able to convince his client, though, and she maintained until her death in 1964 that her son had been murdered.)

But it was Speriglio’s involvement a few years later in the Marilyn Monroe death case that really put him on the map. He latched onto the Monroe case around 1972, a decade after her death, and became obsessed,  investigating Monroe’s “suicide” for more than twenty years, insisting to anyone who would listen that she was the victim of a Chicago mob hit, ordered by “the Kennedys.” He eventually wrote four books on the subject.

He was also hired to look into the death of Natalie Wood, although as far as I know no Kennedys were involved in that one.

He died of lung cancer on April 30 2000, leaving behind a wife and two daughters. He ended up the director of the Nick Harris Detective Agency, the same agency where he first served his apprenticeship.

BOOKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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