Clay Shaw: American businessman (1913 - 1974)
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Clay Shaw
American businessman

Clay Shaw

Clay Shaw
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American businessman
Was Businessperson Entrepreneur
From United States of America
Field Business
Gender male
Birth 17 March 1913, Kentwood, USA
Death 15 August 1974, New Orleans, USA (aged 61 years)
Star sign Pisces
Bronze Star Medal  
knight of the order of the Crown  
Legionnaire of Legion of Merit  
The details (from wikipedia)


Clay LaVerne Shaw (March 17, 1913 – August 15, 1974) was a businessman in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the only person prosecuted in connection with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and was acquitted.


Shaw, a native of Kentwood, Louisiana, was the son of Glaris Lenora Shaw, a United States Marshal, and Alice Shaw. His grandfather had been the sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish. When he was five, Shaw's family moved to New Orleans, where he eventually attended Warren Easton High School.

Shaw served as an officer in the United States Army during World War II. He served as secretary to the General Staff and later served in Europe. He was decorated by three nations: the United States with the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, by France with the Croix de Guerre and named Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite, and by Belgium named Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Belgium. Shaw was honorably discharged from the United States Army as a major in 1946.

After World War II Shaw helped start the International Trade Mart in New Orleans which facilitated the sales of both domestic and imported goods. He was known locally for his efforts to preserve buildings in New Orleans' historic French Quarter.

Shaw was also a published playwright. The best-known of his works, Submerged (1929), was co-authored with H. Stuart Cottman when both were still high-school students.

Arrest and trial

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison prosecuted Clay Shaw on the charge that Shaw and a group of activists, including David Ferrie and Guy Banister, were involved in a conspiracy with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the John F. Kennedy assassination. Garrison arrested Shaw on March 1, 1967. Garrison believed that Shaw was the man named as "Clay Bertrand" in the Warren Commission Report. Garrison said that Shaw used the alias Clay Bertrand in New Orleans' gay society.

During the trial, which took place in January–February 1969, Garrison called insurance salesman Perry Russo as his main witness. Russo testified that he had attended a party at the apartment of anti-Castro activist David Ferrie. At the party, Russo said that Lee Harvey Oswald (who Russo said was introduced to him as "Leon Oswald"), David Ferrie, and "Clay Bertrand" (who Russo identified in the courtroom as Shaw) had discussed killing Kennedy. The conversation included plans for the "triangulation of crossfire" and alibis for the participants.

Critics of Garrison argue that his own records indicate that Russo's story had evolved over time. A key source was the "Sciambra Memo", which recorded Assistant D.A. Andrew Sciambra's first interview with Russo. The memo does not mention an "assassination party", and says that Russo met with Shaw on two occasions, neither of which occurred at the party.

On March 1, 1969, Shaw was found not guilty on all charges after the jury deliberated for less than one hour. Despite his acquittal, Shaw's reputation and public image never fully recovered.


A heavy smoker most of his life, Clay Shaw died on August 15, 1974(1974-08-15) (aged 61) about 12:40 AM at his residence at 1022 St. Peter Street. The death certificate was signed by Dr. Hugh M. Batson, with the cause of death listed as metastatic lung cancer. Shaw was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Kentwood, Louisiana.

At the time of his death, Shaw was engaged in a $5 million lawsuit against Garrison and members of an organization, Truth and Consequences Inc., that financed Garrison's investigation. As Shaw had no surviving relatives, the United States Supreme Court dismissed the suit in 1978.

Later disclosures

  • In 1979, Richard Helms, former Director of the CIA, testified under oath that Shaw had been a part-time contact of the Domestic Contact Service of the CIA, where Shaw volunteered information from his travels abroad, mostly to Latin America.
  • In 1996, the CIA revealed that Shaw had obtained a "five Agency" clearance in 1949.


Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Shaw in Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 09 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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