The JFK 100

Was There a "Clay Bertrand"?

Jim Garrison (seen here playing Earl Warren in Oliver Stone's JFK)
claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald consorted with a mysterious "Clay Bertrand."
Did "Bertrand" exist?


A key suspect in Oliver Stone's JFK is the mysterious "Clay Bertrand," identified by Stone as New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw. Was Shaw the elusive "Bertrand"? Was there even a "Bertrand" at all? This article tells the full story.

It was about 4:00 PM on Saturday, November 23, 1963, when New Orleans secretary Eva Springer became a bit player in one of the most puzzling episodes of the John F. Kennedy assassination investigation. Springer had just arrived home from grocery shopping when the phone rang. The voice on the other end of the line was that of her employer, attorney Dean Adams Andrews, Jr.

Andrews had never called Springer at home before, but he was hospitalized for pneumonia and needed her help. "I'm representing Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas," he told her.(1)

A Damon Runyonesque character known for spinning tall tales in hipster argot straight out of the 1950s, Dean Andrews made much of his living representing vice offenders in New Orleans's legendary French Quarter. "When not talking, which is seldom," writes a friend of his, attorney Milton Brener, Andrews "is usually wearing a broad, boyish grin or laughing lustily, for he appears to see the world as a huge joke."(2)

After making it clear to her boss "that she was not going to Dallas with him and wanted nothing to do with the case,"(3) Eva Springer asked Andrews who had hired him. One word came back over the line, a word that meant absolutely nothing to her at the time: "Bertrand."(4)

The next day Andrews called his own attorney and friend, Sam "Monk" Zelden, and offered him a chance to assist with Oswald's defense.(5) As the two men spoke, Zelden saw Jack Ruby murder the accused assassin on live television. "Don't worry about it," Zelden said. "Your client just got shot."(6)

On Monday, November 25, Andrews phoned the local offices of the FBI and Secret Service and informed them that Lee Harvey Oswald had briefly been a client of his the previous summer, and he had been accompanied on occasion by a man named Clay Bertrand. Andrews said that Bertrand had phoned him about representing Oswald in Dallas. He described Bertrand as "a youthful appearing person age 22-23, 5'7", 160 pounds, blonde hair and crew cut."(7)

Andrews called Springer and asked her to locate any relevant records in the office. She and investigator R. M. Davis spent a week searching the files, but not a scrap of paper could be found to indicate that Lee Oswald had ever been a client.(8) Questioned by the authorities, neither Springer nor Davis recalled ever meeting Oswald or had any knowledge of his having been in the office. Neither Springer nor Davis knew Clay Bertrand.(9)

The FBI and Secret Service could locate no trace of a Clay Bertrand in New Orleans. Bertrand was unknown to the New Orleans Police Department's Bureau of Identifications, their Detective Division, the Narcotics Squad, and the Vice Squad. No trace of the man could be turned up at the New Orleans Credit Bureau, the Louisiana State Employment Service, the Oretna employment office, Tulane University, or the Public Library.(10)

Questioned again on December 5th, Andrews said he had only met Bertrand once. Asked again for Bertrand's description, Andrews characterized him as a well-dressed man of 6'1" or 6'2", with brown hair.(11)

A few days later, Andrews told the FBI that "based on the discrepancy between his memory and facts as related to him by his employees and further the fact that he cannot identify Clay Bertrand, he can reach only one conclusion, that is, that the call received by him while in Hotel Dieu Hospital under sedation was a figment of his imagination."(12) He added that "after a careful and extensive search of his files,"(13) he could not find any trace of such a client.(14) Investigator R. M. Davis told the FBI that Andrews "is now convinced that the call he received at the hospital was a dream."(15)

The Warren Commission subpoenaed Andrews to testify about his knowledge of the alleged assassin and provide copies of all relevant records. On July 21, 1964, Andrews told Commission counsel Wesley J. Liebeler that Oswald had come to his office "accompanied by some gay kids. They were Mexicanos. He wanted to find out what could be done in connection with a [US Marine Corps] discharge . . . so I explained to him he would have to advance the funds to transcribe whatever records they had up in the Adjutant General's office. When he brought the money, I would do the work, and we saw him three or four times subsequent to that, not in the company of the gay kids."(16) Andrews could not produce any records, he now said, because his office had been burglarized.(17)

Asked about Clay Bertrand, Andrews described him as having "sandy hair, blue eyes, ruddy complexion," standing about 5'8" and weighing "about 165, 170, 175."(18)

Andrews explained:


Mr. ANDREWS. I was in Hotel Dieu [Hospital], and the phone rang and a voice I recognized as Clay Bertrand asked me if I would go to Dallas . . . and defend [Oswald]. I told him I was sick in the hospital. If I couldn't go, I would find somebody that could go. . . . I had seen Clay Bertrand once some time ago, probably a couple of years. He's the one who calls in behalf of gay kids normally, either to obtain bond or parole for them. I would assume that he was the one that originally sent Oswald and the gay kids, these Mexicanos, to the office because I had never seen those people before at all. They were just walk-ins. . . .

Mr. LIEBELER. Now do you recall talking to an FBI agent, Regis L. Kennedy, and Carl L. Schlaeger on November 25? . . . Do you remember telling [Special Agent Kennedy] at that time that you thought that Clay Bertrand had come into the office with Oswald when Oswald had been in the office earlier last spring?

Mr. ANDREWS. No; I don't remember.

Mr. LIEBELER. Was Bertrand ever in the office with Oswald?

Mr. ANDREWS. Not that I remember.(19)


Didn't you tell the FBI, Liebeler asked, that "you finally came to the conclusion that Clay Bertrand was a figment of your imagination?"


Mr. ANDREWS. That's what the Feebees [FBI agents] put on. I know that the two Feebees are going to put these people on the street looking, and I can't find the guy, and I am not going to tie up all the agents on something that isn't that solid. I told them, "Write what you want, that I am nuts. I don't care." They were running on the time factor, and the hills were shook up plenty to get it, get it, get it. I couldn't give it to them. I have been playing cops and robbers with them. You can tell when the steam is on. They are on you like the plague. They never leave. They are like cancer. Eternal. . . . (20)


Now Andrews added a second encounter with Bertrand to his story.


Mr. ANDREWS. Oh, I ran up on that rat about six weeks ago and he spooked, ran in the street. I would have beat him with a chain if I had caught him. . . . I am trying to think of the name of this bar. That's where this rascal bums out. I was trying to get past him so I could get a nickel in the phone and call the Feebees or [Secret Service agent] John Rice, but he saw me and spooked and ran. I haven't seen him since. . . . (21)

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Now I have a rather lengthy report of an interview that Mr. Kennedy had with you on December 5, 1963, in which he reports you as stating that you had a mental picture of Clay Bertrand as being approximately six-feet-one-inch to six-feet-two-inches in height, brown hair, and well dressed.


Mr. LIEBELER. Now this description is different, at least in terms of height of the man, than the one you have just given us of Clay Bertrand.

Mr. ANDREWS. But, you know, I don't play Boy Scouts and measure them. I have only seen this fellow twice in my life. I don't think there is that much [difference] in the description. . . .

Mr. LIEBELER. I think you said he was five-feet-eight-inches before.

Mr. ANDREWS. Well, I can't give you any better because this time I was looking for the fellow, he was sitting down. I am just estimating. . . .

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . I am at a loss to understand why you told Agent Kennedy on December 5 that he was six-feet-one to six-feet-two and now you have told us that he was five-feet-eight when at no time did you see the man standing up.

Mr. ANDREWS. Because, I guess[ed] the first time -- and I am guessing now --

Mr. LIEBELER. Is this fellow a homosexual, do you say?

Mr. ANDREWS. Bisexual. What they call a swinging cat.

Mr. LIEBELER. And you haven't seen him at any time since that day?

Mr. ANDREWS. I haven't seen him since.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Has this fellow Bertrand sent you business in the past?

Mr. ANDREWS. Prior to -- I guess the last time would be February of 1963.

Mr. LIEBELER. And mostly he refers, I think you said, these gay kids, is that right?

Mr. ANDREWS. Right. . . . I wish I could be more specific, that's all. This is my impression, for whatever it is worth, of Clay Bertrand: His connections with Oswald I don't know at all. I think he is a lawyer without a briefcase. That's my opinion. . . .(22)


"There's three people I am going to find," Andrews told Liebeler. "One of them is the real guy that killed the President; the Mexican [who accompanied Oswald to his office]; and Clay Bertrand."(23)

Who was Clay Bertrand?


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Dean Andrews


Attorney Dean Andrews spent much of the weekend of the Kennedy assassination in a state of delirium induced by pneumonia, fever, medication, and oxygen. His physician told the FBI that Andrews had spent the entire weekend "under heavy sedation," so much so that he had trouble believing the patient had even been "capable of using the telephone during that time."(24)

On the afternoon of Saturday, November 23, 1963, Andrews was awakened by a phone call from an old friend, Eugene C. Davis, who operated a bar in the French Quarter. Andrews had represented Davis in a handful of minor legal matters over the years, and Davis occasionally sent him clients from the gay community. On November 23rd, he wanted Andrews's assistance with the sale of an automobile.(25)

The conversation inevitably turned to the hot topic of the day, the assassination of President Kennedy, about which Andrews was keeping abreast via the television set in his hospital room. "Man," he mused to Davis, "I would be famous if I could go to Dallas and defend Lee Harvey Oswald. Whoever gets that job is going to be a famous lawyer."(26)

Probably just moments after saying goodbye to Davis, Dean Andrews embarked upon the series of phone calls that would change his life, albeit not for the better. He phoned his secretary, Eva Springer, and told her he had been retained to defend the accused assassin. Who had hired him? she very reasonably wanted to know.

Of course, no one had. There was only his phone conversation with Gene Davis. This gave him an idea, however.

Some years earlier, Andrews had attended a party in the Rendezvous Bar, where Gene Davis was bartender. A co-worker of Davis's, Helen Girt, known as "Big Jo," had pointed to Davis and jokingly announced, "Meet Clay Bertrand."(27)

Bertrand, Andrews found himself saying to Eva Springer. Bertrand hired me.(28)

Perhaps one would have to be familiar with Dean Andrews and his penchant for tall tales, described by one friend as "flights of fancy" and "soaring adventures in imagination," in order to understand this course of action.(29) There is also the attorney's illness to consider: the pneumonia, the fever. There were the treatments he was receiving: the oxygen, the medication, the sedatives. And there was the television in his hospital room, emanating constant reminders of the sensational events underway in Dallas, events in which Dean Andrews could only dream about participating.(30)

"Don't forget I [was] in the hospital sick," the attorney would try to explain later. When he made the phone calls about going to Dallas, he said, "I might have believed it myself."(31)

After Oswald was murdered, Andrews began to concoct another story -- that the President's accused assassin had been his client the previous summer.(32) He got all the information he needed from the television in his hospital room. And with Oswald dead, who could deny it?(33)

As the attorney later testified at the trial of Clay Shaw, once his pneumonia had passed and he was no longer feverish and under the influence of drugs, he had a difficult time reconstructing the events of the assassination weekend.(34) Early in December he admitted "this entire incident could have been dreamed by him in view of the physical condition he was in at the time."(35)

He later chose to resurrect "Clay Bertrand" for the Warren Commission, once "Bertrand's" existence could no longer cause him any trouble . . . or so he thought.

When Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison opened his investigation into Oswald's New Orleans activities, Dean Andrews's Warren Commission testimony became a focal point, though still secondary in the DA's mind to prime suspect David Ferrie. In January 1967, Life editor Richard Billings, who was working closely with Garrison, asked the DA if he knew the identity of the mysterious Clay Bertrand. Bertrand "may not exist," Garrison said, but he "may be Clay Shaw."(36)

Clay Shaw was a prominent and well-respected New Orleans businessman and civic leader. He was a pioneer in the restoration of historic New Orleans sites, a playwright, a patron of the arts, and one of the founders of the city's International Trade Mart, later renamed the World Trade Center. But while Dean Andrews had described "Bertrand" as "a youthful appearing person age 22-23," somewhere from 5'7" to 6'2", 160 to 175 pounds, with hair that was either blonde, sandy or brown; Clay Shaw was fifty years old in 1963, stood fully 6'4", weighed 225 pounds, and had hair that was almost pure white.

A lifelong registered Democrat and self-described liberal in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson and FDR, Shaw supported John F. Kennedy's 1960 run for the presidency and considered JFK "a splendid president" for his "youth, imagination, style and elan" as well as his political programs. "If there was one person in New Orleans who believed in John F. Kennedy," one friend said, "it was Clay Shaw."(37)


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Clay Shaw


How had Jim Garrison decided Clay Shaw was Bertrand?

"One, Bertrand is homosexual," Garrison told members of his staff in December 1966. "Two, Bertrand speaks Spanish. Three, his first name is Clay." Shaw fit these criteria therefore Shaw was Bertrand.(38)

The DA and his assistants questioned the businessman, who said he had never met Lee Oswald.(39) Garrison seemed impressed with the man and told his staff to "forget Shaw."(40) But when Garrison's prime suspect, David Ferrie, died on February 22, 1967, the DA was faced with the prospect of either admitting he had nothing else to go on or finding another suspect immediately. Clay Shaw was under arrest for conspiracy to assassinate the President just a week later.(41)

Garrison called upon Dean Andrews to help him make a case against Clay Shaw. The DA and the attorney were old friends, having been in law school together. Garrison told Andrews they would "ride to glory together" if Andrews would identify Clay Shaw as Clay Bertrand.(42)

Andrews, who had become an assistant DA in neighboring Jefferson Parish, initially saw no reason to let on that his Warren Commission testimony had been a fiction, but he repeatedly denied that Clay Shaw was "in any way, shape or form, Clay Bertrand."(43) He had never met Clay Shaw in his life, Andrews said.(44) Finally, as it became clear he could not dissuade the DA from his conviction that Shaw and Bertrand were one and the same, Andrews informed Garrison that he had made the whole story up.(45)

Andrews made one slip, however. When Garrison asked him if he knew David Ferrie, Andrews said that he did, and volunteered the information that he had once arranged a parole for a friend of Ferrie's, Tommy Clark. He acknowledged that this had not been "a strictly legal move for an assistant DA to make."(46) He never imagined his old pal Jim would use the information against him.

Finally, according to Andrews, the DA offered him a deal. Since no one in New Orleans but Dean Andrews had ever heard of Clay Bertrand, Andrews was the only person who could confirm or deny Bertrand's identity. The attorney therefore had a choice, Garrison informed him. He could face an indictment for the parole action he had so freely admitted, or he could play ball. This meant Andrews would neither confirm nor deny that Shaw was Bertrand. Andrews agreed.(47)

Called before the Grand Jury, Andrews kept his end of the bargain. Was Clay Shaw Clay Bertrand? "I can't say he is and I can't say he ain't," the attorney responded.(48)

Jim Garrison had Andrews charged with perjury; a conviction followed. Andrews lost his position as Assistant DA of Jefferson Parish. He was subsequently disbarred.(49)

Dean Andrews had had enough. "I kept my deal with the Big Giant," Andrews said, referring to the six-foot-six-inch District Attorney. "I told him, I [would] say, 'I can't say yes and I can't say no.' And I stuck to it. And I got indicted for it."(50)

The attorney admitted that "he had made up the name Clay Bertrand 'out of solid air' to protect a friend" -- the owner of a gay bar in the French Quarter.(51) The man's name, he revealed, was Eugene C. Davis.(52)


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Gene Davis


A stunned Davis heatedly denied being "Clay Bertrand" or having ever met Lee Oswald.(53) Called again before the Grand Jury, Andrews tried to explain.


ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY JAMES ALCOCK. Dean, do you know who the real Clay . . .

ANDREWS. The man, I believe, is Gene Davis, and if you ask him, he'll call me a crocosack [sic] of lies . . .

ALCOCK. What basis do you have [for that belief]?

ANDREWS. Helen Girt, back in the Fifties, at the fag wedding reception I was telling you all about, introduced [Davis to me] as Clay Bertrand.

ALCOCK. . . . Have you talked to this man [Davis] on the phone recently?

ANDREWS. I have talked to him almost every day. I have known him a long time.

ALCOCK. Your testimony now is that this is the man who sent the clients to your office? Talked to you on behalf of homosexuals?

ANDREWS. This is the man who sent clients to my office; sometimes they were fags, sometimes they weren't.

ALCOCK. Is this the man who called you in the hospital and asked you to represent Lee Harvey Oswald?

ANDREWS. This is the man I believed called me . . . what you all believe is your affair.

A JUROR. In your mind, this is Clay Bertrand? The man who called you down through the years representing homosexuals?

ANDREWS. No, he didn't do it that way. That's the way I said it, put it into the Warren Commission Report -- everybody picks it up from there and goes with it. . . .

ASSISTANT DA RICHARD V. BURNES. I asked you if you ever heard from Clay Bertrand after the time you were called about representing Lee Oswald in the assassination, and the answer was, "I ain't seen hide nor hair of him since."

ANDREWS. Not from Clay Bertrand, 'cause I call him Gene Davis. You are right. I told you that, and I ain't seen hide nor hair of him nor heard from Clay Bertrand . . . I call him Gene. I was introduced to the man ["Bertrand"] one time.(54)


"If [Garrison's] case is based on the fact that Clay L. Shaw is Clay Bertrand," Andrews continued, "it's a joke." "I may have said a thousand times one thing, but the one time I say Clay Shaw ain't Clay Bertrand clears me of all the rest. . . . It doesn't make any difference to me if I'm convicted. . . . Clay Shaw is not Clay Bertrand. Indict me if you want to."(55)

They did. James Alcock summed up the state's position when he declared it was "obvious that this man won't tell the world the truth on the matter."(56) Andrews's response was unequivocal: "So I lied. I committed perjury. I don't know what I said. The man is Eugene Davis."(57)

At the 1969 trial of Clay Shaw, Andrews persisted in the unchallenged claim that Lee Harvey Oswald had briefly been a client of his, but he came clean about "Clay Bertrand."


JAMES ALCOCK. Do you know a person named Clay Bertrand?

ANDREWS. I know a person who back in the early Fifties was introduced to me as Clay Bertrand.

ALCOCK. And what was the occasion of this introduction?

ANDREWS. I walked into the Rendezvous Bar. It was in the afternoon, I don't recall the date, and they had a wedding reception going on in the dance part in the rear.

ALCOCK. Do you recall by whom you were introduced to Clay Bertrand?

ANDREWS. Big Jo . . . Helen Girt.(58)

ALCOCK. . . . Had you known this individual [you were introduced to] prior to going to the wedding reception?

ANDREWS. Yes.(59)

ALCOCK. . . . Would you say you saw him regularly after this wedding reception?

ANDREWS. Well, not regularly, but we would bump into each other, and I handled some legal matters for him.

ALCOCK. To your knowledge, did he ever call you and ask you to represent anyone after the wedding reception?

ANDREWS. He would refer clients to the office.

ALCOCK. Then I take it when you were interviewed by [FBI agent Regis] Kennedy in the hospital, you knew who you were talking about allegedly when you told them the name Clay Bertrand? Is that correct?(60)

ANDREWS. . . . At the time Regis Kennedy was making his examination, it suddenly dawned on me that if I revealed the real name I would bring a lot of heat and a lot of trouble to somebody that it didn't belong to. Now this is my recollection, best as I can. I fumbled around for a cover name, and I happened to remember being introduced to this boy, party by the name Clay Bertrand, and used the name Clay Bertrand to associate in my mind with the real party that called. That is the best I can recall.(61)

ALCOCK. . . . Now, did you know that the FBI was looking for this Clay Bertrand?

ANDREWS. I vaguely recall Mr. Kennedy coming into the hospital and telling me about a bunch of men that were in the field, and it was my decision whether they should stay in the field or come out of the field. I don't recall [what] I told him, but it was to this effect: I can't help you, pull them up and [send] them someplace else. So in that way I would have to answer yes.(62)

ALCOCK. . . . Was it as a result of this phone call that you called Mr. Zelden? . . . The phone call you got from Clay Bertrand in the hospital.

ANDREWS. I have never received a phone call from Clay Bertrand in the hospital.

ALCOCK. Well, the individual that you say is Clay Bertrand.

ANDREWS. When did I say this man was Clay Bertrand? I don't recall that.

ALCOCK. Well, you testified before the Warren Commission didn't you?


ALCOCK. Under oath, wasn't it?

ANDREWS. Yes.(63)

ALCOCK. . . . Did you know [the caller] by any other name than Clay Bertrand?

ANDREWS. Gene Davis.(64)

ALCOCK. . . . Did you have occasion during this period right after you met the man you identify as Clay Bertrand, to see him very often?

ANDREWS. I have never identified Gene Davis, to my knowledge, as Clay Bertrand. I have used the words, "Clay Bertrand," as a cover to mentioning Gene Davis. I have never identified him as Clay Bertrand, to my knowledge.(65)

ALCOCK. . . . Is there any reason why you didn't tell the FBI when they were seeking the identity of the man you said was Clay Bertrand?

ANDREWS. At the time I was under the influence of opiates and sedation. I did not have any knowledge they were seeking Clay Bertrand until maybe three, four days later, if I was aware of it then.(66)

ALCOCK. . . . Can you recall the last time you had seen this man that you identify as Clay Bertrand prior to going into the hospital?

ANDREWS. I never have identified anybody as Clay Bertrand; I have used Clay Bertrand as a cover name for Gene Davis.

ALCOCK. All right. Well, Gene Davis. When was the last time you saw Gene Davis prior to going into the hospital in November of 1963?

ANDREWS. I would have to guess. About two weeks before I went into the hospital.

ALCOCK. So then when you told the Warren Commission under oath that you hadn't seen him in six months, you were telling a lie?

ANDREWS. . . . At the time Mr. Liebeler was questioning me, it is just as it is in the courtroom, rapid fire. It was an informal meeting; I didn't place to much importance to why an insignificant person like myself would even be called. I answered the best I could at that time. I didn't deliberately lie, I might have overloaded my mouth with the importance of being a witness in the front of the Warren [Commission], but other than that I didn't deliberately lie. I think the only explanation I can give you is that my mouth went ahead of my brain.

ALCOCK. Do you recall telling Mr. Liebeler that you saw Clay Bertrand six weeks prior to the time that he questioned you?

ANDREWS. Well, I figured that wasn't material. You can call it a lie if you want; I call it huffing and puffing.

ALCOCK. Huffing and puffing under oath?

ANDREWS. Bull session.(67)

ALCOCK. . . . You testified earlier that Mr. Kennedy had attempted to locate this Clay Bertrand, is that correct, as a result of the conversation with you?

ANDREWS. This is what I gathered. I was still under sedation, still using oxygen then I believe. This is vague, way off in the distance. He appeared before me like a myth. I remember answering questions, I don't remember what they were. . . . [T]he only thing that I can recall is could I give him any better information, and I told him, no, call your man up, do whatever you want. If you want to think that I am a squirrel or I am not, be my guest, I cannot help you.

ALCOCK. And you didn't choose to help the FBI on that occasion by giving them the name of Gene Davis?

ANDREWS. I didn't choose to implicate an innocent man, Gene Davis, in something [where] I couldn't even recall what I said . . . [A]ll of a sudden it dawned on me that as result of my calling those people I could involve an innocent party into a whole lot of humbug. At that time in the hospital under sedation I elected a course that I have never been able to get away from. . . .(68)

ALCOCK. You say an innocent man. This man called you on behalf of Lee Harvey Oswald?

ANDREWS. No, it didn't go like that. I don't recall what I told Regis Kennedy, but I know, I am positive that that was not the purpose of the phone call. I sat back -- and I have many a time [tried] to reconstruct -- the best that I can reconstruct was that Gene Davis called me to pass an act of sale for two of the kids while I was in the hospital . . . I told him that I was sick in the hospital, if he could get my seal out of the office I would pass the act there. Naturally [the Kennedy assassination] was an important thing to everybody. I don't know whether I suggested, "Man, I would be famous if I could go to Dallas and defend Lee Harvey Oswald, whoever gets that job is going to be a famous lawyer," or whether in a conversation it came about. Nobody said it per se as everybody believed. . . .

ALCOCK. Do you mean to tell me this time you are now telling this Court under oath that no one called you on behalf of the representation of Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas?(69)

ANDREWS. Per se my answer is yes, no one called me to say that. The phone call I received was a local call from Gene Davis involving two people who were going to sell an automobile and they wanted the title notarized and a bill of sale notarized. . . . That is an act of sale, a movable passing from one person to another.

ALCOCK. Why is it you called Monk Zelden on Sunday then and asked if he wanted to go to Dallas?

ANDREWS. No explanation. Don't forget I am in the hospital sick, I might have believed it myself or thought after a while I was retained there, so I called Monk. I would like to be famous too, other than as a perjurer.

ALCOCK. That is going to be difficult.

ANDREWS. C'est la vie. . . .(70)

THE COURT. . . . Mr. Alcock, would you permit me to ask the witness one more thing? I don't know whether I understood you correctly or not, but when I asked you why did you create the name Bertrand or Clay Bertrand, did you tell me you met someone at a wedding by the name of Bertrand?(71)

ANDREWS. . . . No, I stated that I was introduced to a person who I knew already to be Gene Davis, in a very casual manner, people half loaded eating free sandwiches and getting all the free booze. I got there in the middle of the thing and Big Jo says, "Meet Clay Bertrand," just like that, "everybody." I burst out laughing, I knew the cat -- I mean I knew the guy, Gene Davis.

THE COURT. But the girl, Big Jo, she used the name Clay Bertrand? That is where you got that word?

ANDREWS. Right. . . .(72)

THE COURT. Who did Big Jo point to when she said, "Meet Clay Bertrand"?

ANDREWS. Gene Davis.

ALCOCK. The party Gene Davis, when he called you on the occasion in November did he identify himself as Clay Bertrand?

ANDREWS. No, he has never used that name; I have never known him by that name.

ALCOCK. But you were introduced to him [sic] by that name?

ANDREWS. That doesn't mean I know him [by that name]. I knew who he was, Gene Davis. I have been introduced as Algonquin J. Calhoun but people know me as Dean Andrews, know it is not my name.(73)

THE COURT. . . . Did Davis ever call you on behalf of Oswald on any other occasion?

ANDREWS. No, never called me on behalf of Oswald -- period.

THE COURT. Who was guaranteeing Oswald's fee in that case?

ANDREWS. I never had any commission, retainer, or anything. That is bull.

THE COURT. That is more bull?

ANDREWS. Yep.(74)


While Jim Garrison's conspiracy case against Clay Shaw did not ultimately hinge upon Shaw's alleged use of an alias, it was common knowledge that suspicion had originally fallen upon Shaw solely because of Dean Andrews's "Bertrand" tales and the fact that the District Attorney thought Clay Shaw fit the description of "Clay Bertrand."

When Andrews finally made it clear that there was not and had never been a "Clay Bertrand," Judge Edward Haggerty was reportedly so shaken by the news that he privately suggested to the DA's men (as the DA himself was not present in court) that "perhaps they should make a reassessment of their position in this case." This, the DA's men reportedly responded, they lacked the authority to do.(75)

A curious side note to the "Bertrand" affair concerns a document from the files of the New Orleans Police Department.

When Clay Shaw was arrested, he was booked and fingerprinted by Officer Aloysius Habighorst of the NOPD. Seventeen months later, Habighorst informed the District Attorney that when he had routinely asked Shaw for any aliases he may have used, Shaw had responded, "Clay Bertrand."(76) Habighorst produced the card, upon which the officer had typed that name.

Shaw adamantly denied saying any such thing. He insisted under oath at trial that Habighorst had not questioned him at all during the booking procedure and that the form had been blank when he signed it. He testified that Officer Habighorst had informed him he had to sign the card if he expected to be allowed to post bail.(77)

A full day of the trial was expended upon hearing testimony about the suspect arrest record.(78) Sworn testimony confirmed that it was standard operating procedure for the NOPD to ask the suspect to sign the arrest record while it was still blank, then fingerprint him, then fill out the form last. At that time, the booking officer would have the suspect's field arrest report, containing all the necessary information, including aliases or alleged aliases.(79)

The most significant testimony came from Sgt. Jonas J. Butzman, who had been assigned by Captain Louis Curole to guard Clay Shaw throughout the booking procedure. Butzman testified that he had complied with this assignment, staying within "about five or ten feet" of Shaw the entire time he was being booked.

Contrary to Officer Habighorst's testimony, Butzman stated that Habighorst had not asked Shaw any of the questions on the arrest record. He specifically denied that Shaw had been questioned about aliases, and insisted he did not hear the name Clay Bertrand mentioned.(80)

Clay Shaw later told Penthouse magazine that "if there was anyone in New Orleans who would have difficulty using an alias, it would be me. . . . For about seventeen or eighteen years I had been managing director of the International Trade Mart here and in that capacity I was in the public eye a great deal. I was on television quite often and my picture had been in the local papers. I attended many civic affairs, luncheons, meetings. In addition, I'm a highly recognizable fellow. I'm rather outsized -- six feet four inches tall -- and I have a shock of prematurely gray hair that is almost white. In a town of this size, where I had made perhaps five hundred speeches and knew literally thousands of people, the idea that I would go around here trying to use an alias is utterly fantastic."(81)

In Jim Garrison's memoir, On the Trail of the Assassins, the former DA claims that "everyone" in the French Quarter knew Shaw was "Bertrand."(82) Nevertheless, in the two years between Shaw's arrest and trial, Garrison was unable, even with the power of subpoena, to produce so much as a single witness to confirm "Clay Bertrand's" identity. To this day, not a single credible witness has ever emerged to link Shaw to that name.

Of course, even if Shaw had been "Bertrand," the most incriminating act ever ascribed to that mysterious individual by Dean Andrews was nothing more than a purported phone call to obtain legal counsel for Lee Harvey Oswald. Nevertheless, this was the keystone upon which Jim Garrison's entire prosecution of Clay Shaw was erected.

And Oliver Stone fell for it.



Copyright © 2001 by David Reitzes


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The JFK 100: Clay Shaw Identified as Bertrand

The JFK 100: Clay Shaw Admits an Alias

The JFK 100: Who Was Clay Shaw?


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1. FBI report of interview with Eva Springer, December 5, 1963; Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2901, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 357.

2. Milton E. Brener, The Garrison Case (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1969), p. 57.

3. FBI report of interview with Eva Springer, December 5, 1963; Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2901, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 357.

4. FBI report of interview with Eva Springer, December 5, 1963; Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2901, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 357.

5. FBI interview of Sam "Monk" Zelden, November 25, 1963; FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963; Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw, hereafter Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 62-3; Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), pp. 33, 149-50. Zelden later confirmed this call to Harold Weisberg. (Author's interview with Harold Weisberg, December 2, 1998.)

6. FBI interview of Sam "Monk" Zelden, November 25, 1963; FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963; Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 62-3; Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), pp. 33, 149-50.

7. FBI interviews with Dean Andrews, December 3 and December 5, 1963; Secret Service interview with Dean Andrews, December 6, 1963; Lambert, pp. 33-34. Bertrand description: FBI interview of Dean Andrews, November 25, 1963; Lambert, p. 298 fn. 42. "Andrews stated that although he has associated the name Clay Bertrand in his mind with the individual described who appeared at Andrews' office with Oswald, he cannot be sure this individual was in fact named Clay Bertrand."

8. FBI report of interview with Eva Springer, December 5, 1963, Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2901, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 357; FBI report of interview with R. M. Davis, December 6, 1963, Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2902, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 358; FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963; Secret Service report of November 25, 1963, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 335.

9. FBI report of interview with Eva Springer, December 5, 1963; Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2901, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 357; FBI report of interview with R. M. Davis, December 6, 1963; Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2902, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 358.

10. Secret Service report of December 6, 1963, Warren Commission Exhibit No. 3094, Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 705; Lambert, p. 35.

11. FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963; Secret Service report of November 25, 1963; Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 335.

12. FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 6, 1963.

13. FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963.

14. FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963.

15. FBI interview of R. M. Davis, December 5, 1963.

16. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 326.

17. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 326.

18. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 334.

19. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 326.

20. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 334.

21. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 334.

22. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, pp. 335-37.

23. Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, p. 334.

24. FBI report of interview with J. D. Andrews, December 5, 1963, Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2899, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 355.

25. Transcript, State of Louisiana v. Clay Shaw, hereafter Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 129-32. See also Milton E. Brener, The Garrison Case (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1969), pp. 58-59, 259; Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), pp. 31, 121 fn., 149-51, 155 fn.; Tom Bethell diary, August 19, 1967, October 2, 1967.

26. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 131; Lambert, pp. 31-32. See also FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 5, 1963; Lambert, p. 297 fn. 32.

27. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 148; Lambert, p. 151.

28. FBI report of interview with Eva Springer, December 5, 1963; Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2901, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XXVI, p. 357.

29. Milton E. Brener, The Garrison Case (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1969), p. 58.

30. Lambert, p. 32. See also Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 132-3; Brener, pp. 58-9.

31. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 130-32; Lambert, p. 150.

32. FBI interviews with Dean Andrews, December 3 and December 5, 1963; Secret Service interview with Dean Andrews, December 6, 1963; Lambert, pp. 33-34.

33. Lambert, p. 34. This is borne out by statements of Andrews's that are in conflict with Oswald's biography. For example, Andrews claimed that Oswald approached him about obtaining US citizenship for his wife, Marina; but during the spring and summer of 1963, Oswald was taking steps to have his wife returned to the USSR. (Warren Commission Report, pp. 725, 727.)

34. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 130-2; Lambert, p. 150.

35. FBI interview of Dean Andrews, December 3, 1963.

36. Richard Billings, "Dick Billings's personal notes on consultations and interviews with Garrison," January 22, 1967 (p. 6).

37. Lambert, p. 49.

38. Edward Jay Epstein, The Assassination Chronicles (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1992), pp. 196-97. Garrison later said much the same thing to Richard Billings: Bertrand was an older man concerned with the legal problems of young homosexuals. "This description," claimed the DA, "would apply precisely to Clay Shaw." (G. Robert Blakey and Richard N. Billings, Fatal Hour [New York: Berkley, 1992], p. xxii.) Assistant DA (and lead prosecutor at the Shaw trial) James Alcock confirmed to NODA investigator Tom Bethell in 1967 that Shaw's name had originally come up because he had the same first name as Andrews's "Clay Bertrand." (Tom Bethell's journal, August 19, 1967.) It was reportedly Assistant DA Frank Klein who originally pointed this out to Jim Garrison. (Lambert, p. 47 fn.)

39. Lambert, p. 166 fn.

40. Epstein, p. 197.

41. The basis for this charge is discussed in The JFK 100: Who was "Willie O'Keefe"?

42. Lambert, p. 74.

43. Epstein, p. 228.

44. Lambert, p. 50.

45. Lambert, p. 50; Epstein, p. 229.

36. Lambert, p. 50; Epstein, p. 227.

47. Lambert, p. 50; Epstein, pp. 227-29. When Andrews testified before the grand jury, the witness who followed him was Thomas Clark, the young man whose parole Andrews had arranged.

48. Lambert, p. 50; Epstein, p. 229.

49. Epstein, pp. 229-31; Lambert, pp. 120-22. The conviction was eventually reversed. (Lambert, p. 176.) Jim Garrison would later claim that he himself dismissed the charges against Dean Andrews, (Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins [New York: Warner Books, 1992], p. 284 fn.) but he had left office before the conviction was overturned by Judge Frank J. Shea in 1974. (Lambert, p. 285.)

50. Grand Jury Testimony of Dean A. Andrews, Jr., June 28, 1967.

51. Epstein, p. 196 fn. Sticking to his tale of being Oswald's lawyer, however, Andrews claimed that this bar owner had sent Oswald to him. He would admit at the Shaw trial that this was not true.

52. Grand Jury Testimony of Dean A. Andrews, Jr., June 28, 1967; Lambert, pp. 116, 312 fn. 24.

53. NODA Affidavit of Eugene C. Davis, June 28, 1967; Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy (New York: Meredith Press, 1969), pp. 56-57. See also Grand Jury Testimony of Eugene C. Davis (Gene Davis), June 28, 1967; Lambert, p. 121.

54. Grand Jury Testimony of Dean A. Andrews, Jr., June 28, 1967; Flammonde, pp. 58-59; Lambert, pp. 120-21.

55. Grand Jury Testimony of Dean A. Andrews, Jr., June 28, 1967; Flammonde, pp. 65-66; Lambert, pp. 120-21.

56. Flammonde, p. 66.

57. Flammonde, p. 67.

58. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 52-55; Lambert, p. 150.

59. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 58; Lambert, p. 150.

60. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 59; Lambert, pp. 149-50.

61. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 60; Lambert, pp. 149-50.

62. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 61; Lambert, pp. 149-50.

63. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 62-63; Lambert, pp. 149-50.

64. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 123; Lambert, pp. 149-50.

65. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 124.

66. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 126.

67. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 126-28; Lambert, p. 150.

68. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 129-30; Lambert, pp. 149-51.

69. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 130-32; Lambert, p. 150.

70. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 130-2; Lambert, p. 150.

71. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 147; Lambert, p. 151.

72. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 148; Lambert, p. 151.

73. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) p. 149; Lambert, p. 151.

74. Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2038) pp. 149-50; Lambert, p. 145.

75. James Kirkwood, American Grotesque (New York: Harper Perennial, 1970), p. 395.

76. Shaw, February 19, 1969, (2029) pp. 53-59; Lambert, p. 145.

77. Shaw, February 19, 1969, (2029) pp. 167-68; Lambert, p. 145.

78. Garrison would later falsely claim that Judge Haggerty interfered with the prosecution's case at this point, a charge uncritically adopted by Oliver Stone. James Kirkwood's book, American Grotesque, contains a concise summary of the relevant testimony, and the entire available trial transcript is also online.

79. Shaw, February 19, 1969, (2029), pp. 122-30.

80. Shaw, February 19, 1969, (2029), pp. 109-11. Even longtime Garrison friend and advocate Mark Lane has remarked on the implausibility of the notion that Shaw would so willingly divulge such an alias. (Mark Lane, "Fact or Fiction? The Moviegoer's Guide to the Film JFK," Rush to Judgment [New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1992], p. xxxii.) It is also difficult to understand why Shaw would so eagerly divulge this most significant alleged alias while failing to mention the pseudonym under which he was a published playwright: "Allen White." (Flammonde, p. 73; Shaw, February 27, 1969, [2037] p. 23; Lambert, p. 153.)

At trial, the prosecution also offered into evidence a page from the guest register of the Eastern Airlines VIP Room, with the name "Clay Bertrand" signed at the very bottom. Prosecution witness Mrs. Jessie Parker testified that she had been working at the Eastern Airlines VIP Room in New Orleans on December 14, 1966, when she saw a man she identified as Clay Shaw sign the guest register. Mrs. Parker testified that Shaw had been accompanied by one individual, about whom she could recall nothing. (Brener, p. 256; Lambert, p. 145.) Clay Shaw testified that he was not in the Eastern Airlines VIP Room at this time, did not ever use the Eastern Airlines VIP Room, was not aware there was such a room at the airport, and had not himself flown with a commercial airline in many years. (Shaw, February 27, 1969, [2047] pp. 20-21; Brener, p. 261; Lambert, p. 153.)

The defense called handwriting analyst Charles Appel, Jr., who displayed blow-ups of Shaw's signature and the "Bertrand" signature to the jury. He testified that the "Bertrand" signature had been written "by some other writer entirely," pointing out numerous features of the handwriting upon which he based his analysis. (Shaw, February 25, 1969, (2039), pp. 15-32; Lambert, pp. 151-52.)

During cross-examination, Mrs. Parker revealed that she had initially refused to identify Shaw as the man from the VIP Room. (James Kirkwood, American Grotesque [New York: Harper Perennial, 1970], p. 349.) Her initial affidavit of September 12, 1967, also reveals that her story underwent some significant changes prior to her testimony. Originally she stated that the VIP Room patron in question had been accompanied by not one undistinguished man, but by "four persons from Caracas, Venezuela and one other individual." (William Davy, Let Justice Be Done [Reston, Va.: Jordan, 1999], p. 178.) Garrison's office subsequently identified the five men who had paid a visit to the VIP Room on December 14, 1966. They were Henry C. Spicer, a retired Navy captain and Managing Director of International Relations of the International House and Executive Director of the Foreign Relations Association of New Orleans, and four members of the Venezuelan government and military. (Davy, p. 180. The identity of the men was originally suggested by a December 15, 1966, New Orleans Times-Picayune article, and confirmed by the NODA on January 10, 1969.) Bill Davy reports, "On January 10, 1969, a representative of Garrison's office visited with Captain Spicer. Spicer allowed the DA's man to view his scrapbook of activities he kept as Director of International Relations." The scrapbook included a photograph of Spicer with his four Venezuelan visitors. A Grand Jury subpoena was issued for Spicer on January 14, 1969, but Spicer did not testify. "It is unknown what subsequently transpired," Bill Davy writes, "but Assistant DA Alcock interviewed Spicer and was apparently convinced he could add nothing more to the case and directed Spicer to ignore the subpoena." (Davy, p. 180.)

The day after Charles Appel testified for the defense, the prosecution brought forth one Elizabeth McCarthy, a handwriting analyst flown in at the last minute from Boston. McCarthy declared it was "highly probable" that the "Clay Bertrand" signature on the guest register was the handiwork of Clay Shaw, offering vague stylistic criteria she had identified with the aid of a pair of binoculars. (Shaw, February 28, 1969, [2049], pp. 83-90.) During the prosecution's closing remarks, Assistant DA James Alcock expressed his doubt that Shaw would sign the name "Clay Bertrand" in his usual handwriting anyway. (Shaw, February 28, 1969, [2049] p. 161.)

The prosecution also offered mail carrier, James Hardiman, who claimed to have delivered roughly half a dozen letters to "Clem Bertrand" at the residence of Shaw's friend James Biddison, where Shaw received mail at times. Hardiman said that none of these letters were returned as being wrongly addressed. This allegation is based solely on his memory of the name "Clem Bertrand." (Shaw, February 13, 1969, [2018] pp. 4-8; Lambert, p. 139.) When Hardiman was cross-examined, attorney Irvin Dymond asked him if he had ever delivered mail to a Mr. Cliff Bordreaux at this same address. Hardiman stated that he had, and continued to insist upon this even after Dymond revealed that he had invented the name himself. Author James Kirkwood "later learned that Hardiman may have been in touch with the District Attorney's office regarding other matters between the time of the preliminary hearing and this current trial. Hardiman's son, Terry Gerard Hardiman, 20 years old, had been arrested in April of 1968 on a theft charge. As of March 1970, no action on the boy's case appeared to have been taken by the District Attorney's office." (Kirkwood, p. 308.)

81. Clay Shaw interview, Penthouse, November 1969.

82. Garrison, pp. 98-99. In 1967, Garrison advocate Joachim Joesten wrote, "It is not known yet who or what provided the original clue to Garrison's investigators for thinking that Clay Bertrand was an alias used by one of New Orleans' most prominent citizens who real name was Clay L. Shaw." (Joachim Joesten, The Garrison Enquiry [London: Hills and Lacy Ltd., 1967], p. 49.) Two decades later, researcher Scott Van Wynsberghe wrote that "pro-Garrison sources are peculiarly silent over the exact mechanism by which 'Clay Bertrand' became 'Clay Shaw.'" (Scott Van Wynsberghe, "Dead Suspects, Part VI," The Third Decade, May 1988, p. 4.) Garrison's 1988 memoir marked the first time the former DA ever publicly advanced any explanation at all for the means with which he purportedly identified Shaw as "Bertrand." In On the Trail of the Assassins, Garrison claims that "everyone" in the French Quarter knew that Clay Shaw was "Bertrand," but no one was willing to testify to that effect. (The DA apparently was too softhearted to compel anyone to do so.) He then cites two specific witnesses. One is Mrs. Jessie Parker (see note #80). The other is William Morris, a convicted felon interviewed in prison on July 14, 1967 -- two weeks after Dean Andrews announced publicly that he'd used "Clay Bertrand" as a cover name for Eugene C. Davis. Morris claimed that in 1958, Eugene C. Davis introduced him to a Clay Bertrand, who paid him twenty dollars for sex. Morris had seen Shaw on television and identified him as Bertrand. Morris also claimed that Shaw once visited his home in the company of a man who resembled Jack Ruby; and that a friend of his, a yacht-owner named Bill Boone, had had Clay Shaw aboard his yacht and knew Shaw as "Bertrand." A month later, Boone was interviewed and denied knowing Shaw or "Bertrand." Gene Davis had already testified under oath to the Grand Jury that he had never spoken to Clay Shaw in his life, and he would testify to this again at Shaw's trial. Jim Garrison did not challenge him. William Morris was not called to testify; in fact, the District Attorney's office never acknowledged Morris as a viable witness.  


You may wish to see . . .

The JFK 100: Clay Shaw Identified as Bertrand

The JFK 100: Clay Shaw Admits an Alias

The JFK 100: Who Was Clay Shaw?


Back to the top

Back to The JFK 100

Back to Oliver Stone's JFK

Back to Jim Garrison menu

Back to JFK menu


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