The story

J. Edgar Hoover


Since their inceptions, the FBI and the CIA have been two separate entities, but did you know that these two organizations were almost combined in one agency, run by none other than J. Edgar Hoover?


Tag: J. Edgar Hoover

In August 1935, Special Agents Nelson B. Klein and Donald C. McGovern from the Cincinnati office of the FBI began investigating convicted criminal George W. Barrett, the “Diamond King,” for his suspected involvement in a number of motor vehicle scams in Ohio and elsewhere across the country. The Department of Justice had Barrett under surveillance since 1931 for dealing in stolen automobiles. In “Barrett v. United States,” in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, heard on March 17, 1936, the court provided details on Barrett’s criminal activities, stating:

His method was to buy an automobile, obtain title papers for it, steal an automobile of similar description, change its motor numbers to correspond with those on the purchased car, obtain duplicate title papers, and then sell the stolen car to some dealer.

In each instance, Barrett sold the stolen vehicles with papers purporting to show that the sales were legitimate.

Special Agent Nelson B. Klein. Courtesy Federal Bureau of Investigation at “History – Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Special Agents Klein and McGovern learned that Barrett was in Hamilton, Ohio after a recent car deal there with the Central Motor Company, but neither they nor the local police were able to question him before he left the area. Acting on a tip, the G-Men – a term used to describe government men, particularly the federal agents working under J. Edgar Hoover – suspected Barrett might travel to College Corner at the Ohio-Indiana border, where Barrett’s brother lived. They drove there on August 16, 1935 and spotted Barrett near the residence of his brother’s home, along with a vehicle matching the motor number of an automobile involved in one of Barrett’s recent schemes. Klein telephoned the sheriff’s office in Hamilton for assistance in arresting Barrett, and he and McGovern parked their car and waited. Before Sheriff John Schumacher and Deputy Charles Walke arrived, Barrett returned to his car with a package in which he had hidden a gun.

Special Agent Donald C. McGovern. Courtesy William Plunkett, The G-Man and the Diamond King, page 37.

Barrett went to unlock his car door, but as Klein and McGovern started their vehicle and began to approach, he abruptly turned and started walking away. Fearful that he was trying to flee and would elude them again, Klein jumped out of the FBI vehicle and called out to him to stop. Barrett ignored the calls and continued walking down a nearby alley with Klein in pursuit.

Once back in the open, the “Diamond King” opened fire, striking Klein numerous times. Klein returned fire and succeeded in hitting Barrett in the legs, but the federal agent succumbed to his gunshot wounds and died at the scene.

In the days following, newspapers across the country reported on the gun battle that had ensued in College Corner. On August 18, 1935, just two days after the shooting, the Indianapolis Star reported that Barrett would stand trial in Indianapolis and would be taken there as soon as his wounds allowed. Although College Corner falls right along the Indiana-Ohio line, agents confirmed that Klein had fallen dead on the Indiana side. The Richmond Item reported: “the trial, to be held in the Indianapolis Federal Courtroom, will be the first murder trial ever conducted in the Southern Indiana District Court.”

[Zanesville, Ohio] Times Recorder, August 17, 1935, page 1. Courtesy Newspapers.com. Sheboygan [Wisconsin] Press, August 17, 1935, page 2. Courtesy Newspapers.com.

The Richmond Item, August 31, 1935, page 1. Courtesy Newspapers.com.

Federal officers transferred Barrett from the Hamilton, Ohio hospital to the City Hospital in Indianapolis on August 21. On August 26, the [Hamilton] Journal News reported on the recovery of one of the automobiles Barrett reportedly stole and transported over state lines from San Diego to Hamilton. Barrett allegedly changed the motor and serial numbers of the car before selling it to a garage in Hamilton. Jurors wasted no time in indicting Barrett for the murder of Special Agent Klein and for violating the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act.

George W. Barrett. Courtesy Find a Grave.

Passed in 1919, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act – also known as the Dyer Act – helped supplement individual states’ efforts to combat automobile theft in the country. In the fall of 1919, newspapers reported that the practice of stealing automobiles was on the rise throughout the U.S., especially in some midwestern cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. The Indianapolis News claimed that over 22,000 automobiles were stolen in eighteen western and midwestern cities in 1918. Other articles put the number closer to 30,000. Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer of Missouri, who introduced the legislation, argued that the losses amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, while also causing hefty increases in automobile theft insurance.

Stolen vehicles reported by Representative Dyer. Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1919, section 2, page 13. Courtesy Newspapers.com.

The act sought “to punish the transportation of stolen motor vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce.” In accordance with the law, anyone who knowingly transported or caused to be transported a stolen motor vehicle in interstate or foreign commerce could be fined up to $5,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both. Those found guilty of violating the law could also be punished in any district through which the guilty party transported the vehicle. According to former Special Agent William Plunkett in The G-Man and the Diamond King:

The BOI (later the FBI) gained more influence in 1919 with the passage of the Dyer Act . . . now it could prosecute criminals who’d previously evaded the Bureau by driving across a state line. More than any other law, the Dyer Act sealed the FBI’s reputation as a national investigative crime-fighting organization.

Federal officers arrested many professional automobile thieves in the 1920s and 1930s after the law went into effect. In many instances, these criminals were wanted for other offenses, including murder. Prior to the passage of the act, federal agents did not have the authority to pursue such criminals and had to let local and state authorities try to handle the rising number of cases. In some instances, local authorities caught and successfully imprisoned criminals and gangsters of the period, only to see their prison sentences expire or have them escape and commit more dangerous crimes. This was particularly true in the case of notorious gangster John Dillinger. In the early 1930s, Dillinger and his gang robbed several banks, plundered police arsenals, killed a police detective in Chicago, and fled the county jail in Crown Point, Indiana in March 1934 after being held to await trial. The FBI’s website states:

It was then that Dillinger made the mistake that would cost him his life. He stole the sheriff’s car and drove across the Indiana-Illinois line, heading for Chicago. By doing that, he violated the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, which made it a federal offense to transport a stolen motor vehicle across a state line.

After Dillinger violated the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, the FBI became actively involved in his capture.

Indianapolis Star, December 4, 1935, page 3. Courtesy Newspapers.com.

Both the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act and a recently passed 1934 law making the killing or assault of a United States officer a federal offense punishable by death sealed George Barrett’s fate. His trial began on December 2. According to The Tennessean, he was only the second man to be tried under the new law providing for capital punishment in the killing of a federal officer. Edward Rice, defense counsel for Barrett, argued that Barrett had been warned days before Special Agent Klein’s killing that Kentucky outlaws were after him and might pose as officers. As such, Barrett maintained that he acted in self-defense out of fear for his life. However, during his time on the witness stand, Special Agent Donald McGovern testified that Klein called out to Barrett and clearly identified himself and McGovern as federal officers.

On December 8, the Indianapolis Star reported that the jury only took fifty minutes to return with a guilty verdict. With no qualification calling for life imprisonment, Barrett was to be hanged. District Attorney Val Nolan stated “I think this is the greatest victory for law and order ever achieved in the state of Indiana.” Electrocution replaced hanging in Indiana several years earlier, but because Barrett’s sentence would be carried out under federal law, U.S. criminal code specified death by hanging.

Indianapolis Star, December 8, 1935, page 1. Courtesy Newspapers.com.

On March 18, the Indianapolis News noted that George “Phil” Hanna, an expert hangman, would lead the execution. Known as the “Humane Hangman,” Hanna had participated in close to seventy previous hangings in an interest to see them done correctly, without additional pain or suffering to the condemned. Barrett hanged at 12:02 am on March 24, 1936 in the Marion County jail yard, and was pronounced dead ten minutes later. Despite the late hour, fifty people reportedly traveled to the jail yard to witness the hanging.

Nelson B. Klein gravestone. Courtesy Find a Grave.


J. Edgar Hoover - HISTORY

J Edgar Hoover : Documentary on J Edgar Hoover Head of the FBI

J. Edgar Hoover : Documentary on J Edgar Hoover Head of the FBI J Edgar Hoover : Documentary on J Edgar Hoover Head of the FBI . 2013 2014 This documentary as well as all of the rest of these documentaries shown here are. A vivid and no-holds-barred look J. Edgar Hoover’s deepest secrets. Did J. Edgar Hoover Really Wear Dresses? Welcome to the bizarre world of J. Edgar Hoover. J Edgar Hoover : Documentary on J Edgar Hoover – Head of the FBI . 2013 This documentary and the rest of the documentaries presented relate to important time. On Friday, November 29, 1963, exactly one week after President John F. Kennedy had been killed by a sniper’s bullets in Dallas, Texas, new U.S. President Lyn.

J. Edgar Hoover in 1961

John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924. He was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

Late in life and after his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface. He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents. According to biographer Kenneth Ackerman, the notion that Hoover’s secret files kept presidents from firing him is a myth. However, Richard Nixon was recorded as stating in 1971 that one of the reasons why he did not fire Hoover was that he was afraid of reprisals against him from Hoover.

According to President Harry S. Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. Truman stated that “we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.”

Early life and Education

J. Edgar Hoover was born on New Year’s Day 1895 in Washington, D.C., to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin 1860–1938), who was of German Swiss descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), of English and German ancestry. The uncle of Hoover’s mother was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States. Hoover did not have a birth certificate filed, although it was required in 1895 Washington. Two siblings had certificates. Hoover’s was not filed until 1938, when he was 43.

Various sources assert that Hoover also had some African American ancestry. Author Gore Vidal grew up in Washington, D.C. in the 1930’s and said in an interview: “It was always said in my family and around the city that Hoover was mulatto. And that he came from a family that passed.” Author Anthony Summers wrote in his 1993 book Official and Confidential, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover that, in some black communities in the eastern United States, it was generally believed that Hoover had black roots.

Hoover grew up near the Eastern Market in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. At Central High, he sang in the school choir, participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, and competed on the debate team,[10] where he argued against women getting the right to vote and against the abolition of the death penalty. The school newspaper applauded his “cool, relentless logic.”

Hoover was a stutterer as a boy, which he overcame by teaching himself to talk fast—a style that he carried through his adult career. He eventually spoke with such ferocious speed that stenographers had a hard time following him.

He obtained a Bachelor of Laws from The George Washington University Law School in 1916, where he was a member of the Alpha Nu Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order and an LL.M., and a Master of Laws degree in 1917 from the same university. While a law student, Hoover became interested in the career of Anthony Comstock, the New York City United States Postal Inspector, who waged prolonged campaigns against fraud and vice, and also against pornography and birth control. Hoover lived in Washington, D.C. for his entire life.

Hoover was 18 years old when he accepted his first job, an entry-level position as messenger in the orders department at the Library of Congress. The library was a half mile from his house. The experience shaped both Hoover and the creation of the FBI profiles as Hoover noted in a 1951 letter, “This job …trained me in the value of collating material. It gave me an excellent foundation for my work in the FBI where it has been necessary to collate information and evidence.”

Department of Justice

Hoover in 1932

Immediately after getting his LL.M degree, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department to work in the War Emergency Division. He soon became the head of the Division’s Alien Enemy Bureau, authorized by President Wilson at the beginning of World War I to arrest and jail disloyal foreigners without trial. He received additional authority from the 1917 Espionage Act. Out of a list of 1,400 suspicious Germans living in the U.S., the Bureau arrested 98 and designated 1,172 as arrestable.

In August 1919, Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation’s new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals. America’s First Red Scare was beginning, and one of Hoover’s first assignments was to carry out the Palmer Raids.

Hoover and his chosen assistant George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter who, Hoover maintained, was “the most dangerous man in the United States.”

In 1921, he rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head and, in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover as the sixth Director of the Bureau of Investigation, partly in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

Hoover was sometimes unpredictable in his leadership. He frequently fired FBI agents, singling out those that he thought “looked stupid like truck drivers,” or that he considered “pinheads.” He also relocated agents who had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations, Melvin Purvis being the prime example. Purvis was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930’s gangs, and it is alleged that Hoover maneuvered him out of the FBI because Hoover was jealous of the substantial public recognition that Purvis received.

Hoover often hailed local law-enforcement officers around the country and built up a national network of supporters and admirers in the process. One that he often commended was the conservative sheriff of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, J. Howell Flournoy, for particular effectiveness.

Gangster Wars

Famous Depression Era gangsters, including Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, and more (1920’s).

In the early 1930’s, criminal gangs carried out large numbers of bank robberies in the Midwest. They used their superior firepower and fast getaway cars to elude local law enforcement agencies and avoid arrest. Many of these criminals frequently made newspaper headlines across the United States, particularly John Dillinger, who became famous for leaping over bank cages and repeatedly escaping from jails and police traps. The gangsters enjoyed a level of sympathy in the Midwest, as banks and bankers were widely seen as oppressors of common people during the Great Depression.

The robbers operated across state lines, and Hoover pressed to have their crimes recognized as federal offenses so that he and his men would have the authority to pursue them and the credit for capturing them. Initially, the FBI suffered some embarrassing foul-ups, in particular with Dillinger and his conspirators. A raid on a summer lodge named “Little Bohemia” in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin left an FBI agent and a civilian bystander dead and others wounded. All the gangsters escaped. Hoover realized that his job was now on the line, and he pulled out all stops to capture the culprits. In late July 1934, Special Agent Melvin Purvis, the Director of Operations in the Chicago office, received a tip on Dillinger’s whereabouts that paid off when Dillinger was located, ambushed, and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater.

In the same period, there were numerous Mafia shootings as a result of Prohibition, while Hoover continued to deny the very existence of organized crime. Gangster Frank Costello helped encourage this view by feeding Hoover tips on sure winners through their mutual friend, gossip columnist Walter Winchell. (Hoover had a reputation as “an inveterate horseplayer” known to send Special Agents to place $100 bets for him. Hoover said that the Bureau had “much more important functions” than arresting bookmakers and gamblers.

Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers, even though he was not present at the events. These included that of Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Machine Gun Kelly, which led to the Bureau’s powers being broadened and it was given its new name in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence. Hoover made changes, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division, to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date. Hoover also helped to expand the FBI’s recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory, a division established in 1932 to examine and analyze evidence found by the FBI.


The Secret Burglary That Exposed J. Edgar Hoover's FBI

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is seen in his Washington office, May 20, 1963. The 1971 burglary of one of the bureau's offices revealed the agency's domestic surveillance program. William J. Smith /AP hide caption

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is seen in his Washington office, May 20, 1963. The 1971 burglary of one of the bureau's offices revealed the agency's domestic surveillance program.

More than 40 years ago, on the evening of March 8, 1971, a group of burglars carried out an audacious plan. They pried open the door of an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole files about the bureau's surveillance of anti-war groups and civil rights organizations.

Hundreds of agents tried to identify the culprits, but the crime went unsolved. Until now.

We thought somebody needed to confront Hoover and document what many of us knew was happening.

For the first time, a new book reveals that the burglars were peace demonstrators who wanted to start a debate about the FBI's unchecked power to spy on Americans. And it's coming out at a time when the country is weighing the merits of surveillance all over again.

The plotters executed their break-in on a night when millions of people were anxious to hear about a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier for the world heavyweight championship. The bout wasn't being broadcast in the U.S. on TV or radio, but networks were giving updates between rounds and millions were tuned in.

The 15-round bout was a brilliant distraction exploited by a group of anti-war activists who set out to burgle a small FBI office outside Philadelphia and expose some of J. Edgar Hoover's secrets.

Bonnie Raines was one of those activists, and she's talking publicly about what she did for the first time in 42 years.

"It seemed that no one else was going to stand up to Hoover's FBI at that time, and we knew what Hoover's FBI was doing in Philadelphia in terms of illegal surveillance and intimidation," Raines says. "And we thought somebody needed to confront Hoover and document what many of us knew was happening."

Stealing From The FBI

Weeks earlier, Bonnie had piled her long hippie hair into a winter cap, put on a pair of glasses and posed as a college student interested in the FBI. She wanted to get a look inside the bureau's small office in the town of Media, Pa., to case the joint, even if it meant risking imprisonment.

Another member of the team, draft protester Keith Forsyth, was chosen to pick the lock at the FBI office. But when the time came, he got a nasty surprise.

"When I got there, there was a brand-new high-security lock on the door," Forsyth says.

Forsyth rushed back to confer with the other burglars, and they agreed to keep trying. So he returned to the office, got down on the ground and slowly applied a crowbar to another door.

"It was a great relief, because, you know, the original plan was for me to be in and out in a couple of minutes, and I don't know how long I spent up there but it was probably at least an hour," Forsyth says.

Forsyth and the other burglars chose the name of their group carefully.

"We called ourselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI," says John Raines. He was a professor of religion at Temple University and Bonnie's husband.

The burglars were sure that Hoover — who ruled the bureau with an iron fist — had been carrying out illegal surveillance on Vietnam protesters and civil rights groups.

"And he was an icon — nobody in Washington was going to hold him accountable," John Raines says. "He could get away with doing whatever he wanted to do with his FBI, and it was his FBI, nobody else's."

The breaking and entering was supposed to get evidence of that spying so Congress and the public could no longer ignore it. Not long after the burglary, reporter Betty Medsger received an anonymous package at her desk at the Washington Post: secret documents. She published the story.

The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

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"The country learned for the first time that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover was almost completely different from what the country thought it was," Medsger says.

An Agency Revealed

Medsger's new book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI, covers the history of that episode, and the revelations those documents helped bring to light.

For one, the FBI had been opening files on so-called subversives — including people who simply wrote letters to the editor objecting to the war in Vietnam. The papers also showed the FBI was encouraging agents to infiltrate schools and churches in the black community using secret informants, turning people against each other.

"I think most striking in the Media files at first was a statement that had to do with the philosophy, the policy of the FBI," Medsger says. "And it was a document that instructed agents to enhance paranoia, to make people feel there's an FBI agent behind every mailbox."

Powerful stuff for people like John Raines, who had traveled south as a Freedom Rider and marched in Selma, Ala., on Bloody Sunday.

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"The distinction between being a criminal and breaking laws is very important," he says. "When the law, or when the institutions that enforce laws [and] interpret laws, become the crime as happened in J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, then the only way to stop that crime from happening is to expose what's going on."

Before long, the purloined files from that tiny FBI office published by Medsger and other reporters began to attract wide attention. It took years and revelations by other reporters and a congressional investigation led by Sen. Frank Church, but eventually lawmakers did rein in the FBI and the CIA.

Medsger's new book about the FBI investigation fills in some details. Hundreds of agents were dispatched to find the burglars. The FBI narrowed its search, building profiles of seven prime suspects. But they got almost all of the suspects wrong.

The burglars had been meticulous. They left no fingerprints, and they surreptitiously photocopied the files at the colleges where they taught. FBI agents did visit Raines, but he deflected their inquiries.

"With no physical evidence left from the burglary itself, they were faced with having to sort through a thousand or 2,000 suspects, and that was an overwhelming job, which of course did overwhelm them," John Raines says. "They never found us."

The burglars went about their lives, vowing never again to talk or meet to protect their secret. John Raines started writing the first of many books. His wife, Bonnie, a child and family advocate, describes carrying on this way: "In my case, it was working and pursuing a degree and driving carpool."

A Crime Revealed

After five years, the statute of limitations passed on the crime of burglary, and members of the group say they breathed easier. But still they kept their mouths shut — until one night, years later, when Betty Medsger happened to be eating dinner in the Raines house.

That's when John Raines mentioned in an offhand way that he had anonymously sent Medsger documents from the FBI burglary in 1971.

"I said, 'Are you telling me that you were the burglars in Media?' " Medsger recalls. "And they said yes. And I was very shocked — and very eager to know more."

The Raines family helped her locate the others involved in the burglary. Most of them agreed to break their silence four decades after they took on J. Edgar Hoover's FBI — and won.


During World War II Hoover and the FBI conducted investigations and surveillances against American citizens suspected of supporting the Nazis, as well as those suspected of being communists supportive of the Soviet government. Harry Truman was a Senator from Missouri through most of the war, and chaired a committee tasked with unmasking and correcting waste within the military contracting systems. When Truman became President, he brought his growing distaste for Hoover to the White House with him, delegating an aid to meet with Hoover when the FBI director requested an audience with the White House, keeping Hoover at arm&rsquos length. At one time Truman, upset when he learned FBI wiretap surveillance included listening to the phone of the hairdresser of a former FDR advisor, Tom Corcoran, ordered FBI surveillance discontinued. He used a scatalogical reference to describe Hoover&rsquos work in his note directing it stopped.

It wasn&rsquot long though before Truman, as had FDR before him and Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and others, learned the political value of wiretaps, as long as their existence remained secret. FBI wiretaps are too often assigned to Hoover, disregarding the many which were ordered by Hoover&rsquos boss, the President of the United States. That Hoover retained the information which he acquired through the wiretaps, many of which were illegal, is not surprising, given his long established penchant for acquiring all the information he could on anyone. As the extent of Hoover&rsquos surveillance became obvious to presidents, the question naturally arose in their minds regarding the nature and extent of information which may have been in FBI files regarding themselves and their closest aides.


J. Edgar Hoover - HISTORY

The Secrets of J. Edgar Hoover

Though never elected to any office, for 50 years he was more powerful than presidents. As head of the FBI he knew what everyone else wanted to keep hidden. But behind the public persona, his shocking private life nearly brought him down. What were the Secrets of J. Edgar Hoover?

J. Edgar Hoover

John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 aged 77. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.

Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure, as evidence of his secretive actions became known. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power. Said one journalist in the 1960s, “Hoover does not have to exert pressure, he is pressure.”

Early life and education

J. Edgar Hoover was born on New Year’s Day 1895 in Washington, D.C., to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin 1860–1938), who was of German Swiss descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), of English and German ancestry. The uncle of Hoover’s mother was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States. Hoover did not have a birth certificate filed, although it was required in 1895 Washington. Two siblings had certificates. Hoover’s was not filed until 1938, when he was 43.

Hoover grew up near the Eastern Market in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. At Central High, he sang in the school choir, participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, and competed on the debate team, where he argued against women getting the right to vote and against the abolition of the death penalty. The school newspaper applauded his “cool, relentless logic.”

He obtained a law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1916 where he was a member of the Alpha Nu Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order and an LL.M., a Master of Laws degree, in 1917 from the same university. While a law student, Hoover became interested in the career of Anthony Comstock, the New York City United States Postal Inspector, who waged prolonged campaigns against fraud and vice, and also was against pornography and birth control.

Hoover lived in Washington, D.C., for his entire life – Department of Justice

Immediately after getting his degree, Hoover was hired by the Justice Department to work in the War Emergency Division. He soon became the head of the Division’s Alien Enemy Bureau, authorized by President Wilson at the beginning of World War I to arrest and jail disloyal foreigners without trial. He received additional authority from the 1917 Espionage Act. Out of a list of 1400 suspicious Germans living in the U.S., the Bureau arrested 98 and designated 1,172 as arrestable.

In August 1919, Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation‘s new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals. America’s First Red Scare was beginning, and one of Hoover’s first assignments was to carry out the Palmer Raids.

Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, whom Hoover maintained was “the most dangerous man in the United States.”

In 1921, he rose in the Bureau of Investigation to deputy head, and in 1924, the Attorney General made him the acting director. On May 10, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Hoover as the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation, following President Warren Harding‘s death and in response to allegations that the prior director, William J. Burns, was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. When Hoover took over the Bureau of Investigation, it had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

Hoover was noted as sometimes being capricious in his leadership he frequently fired FBI agents, singling out those who he thought “looked stupid like truck drivers” or he considered to be “pinheads.” He also relocated agents who had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations. Melvin Purvis was a prime example he was one of the most effective agents in capturing and breaking up 1930s gangs and received substantial public recognition, but a jealous Hoover maneuvered him out of the FBI.

Hoover often hailed local law-enforcement officers around the country and built up a national network of supporters and admirers in the process. One that he often commended was the conservative sheriff of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, J. Howell Flournoy, for particular effectiveness.

Gangster wars

Famous Depression Era gangsters, including Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, and more (1920’s).

In the early 1930’s, criminal gangs carried out large numbers of bank robberies in the Midwest. They used their superior firepower and fast getaway cars to elude local law enforcement agencies and avoid arrest. Many of these criminals, particularly John Dillinger, who became famous for leaping over bank cages and repeatedly escaping from jails and police traps, frequently made newspaper headlines across the United States. Since the robbers operated across state lines, their crimes became federal offenses, giving Hoover and his men the authority to pursue them. Initially, the FBI suffered some embarrassing foul-ups, in particular with Dillinger and his conspirators. A raid on a summer lodge named “Little Bohemia” in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, left an FBI agent and a civilian bystander dead, and others wounded. All the gangsters escaped. Hoover realized that his job was now on the line, and he pulled out all stops to capture the culprits. In late July 1934, Special Agent Melvin Purvis, the Director of Operations in the Chicago office, received a tip on Dillinger’s whereabouts which paid off when Dillinger was located, ambushed and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater.

In the same period, there were numerous Mafia shootings as a result of Prohibition, while Hoover continued to deny the very existence of organized crime. Frank Costello helped encourage this view by feeding Hoover, “an inveterate horseplayer” known to send Special Agents to place $100 bets for him, tips on sure winners through their mutual friend, gossip columnist Walter Winchell. Hoover said the Bureau had “much more important functions” than arresting bookmakers and gamblers.

Even though he was not there, Hoover was credited with several highly publicized captures or shootings of outlaws and bank robbers. These included that of Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Machine Gun Kelly, which led to the Bureau’s powers being broadened and it was given its new name in 1935: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1939, the FBI became pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence. Hoover made changes, such as expanding and combining fingerprint files in the Identification Division to compile the largest collection of fingerprints to date. Hoover also helped to expand the FBI’s recruitment and create the FBI Laboratory, a division established in 1932 to examine evidence found by the FBI.

Investigation of subversion and radicals

Hoover, perhaps at the behest of Richard Nixon, investigated ex-Beatle John Lennon by putting the singer under surveillance, and Hoover wrote this letter to the Attorney General in 1972. A 25-year battle by historian Jon Wiener under the Freedom of Information Act eventually resulted in the release of documents like this one.

Hoover was concerned about subversion, and under his leadership, the FBI spied upon tens of thousands of suspected subversives and radicals. According to critics, Hoover tended to exaggerate the dangers of these alleged subversives and many times overstepped his bounds in his pursuit of eliminating that perceived threat.

The FBI investigated rings of German saboteurs and spies starting in the late 1930s, and had primary responsibility for counterespionage. The first arrests of German agents were made in 1938, and continued throughout World War II. In the Quirin affair during World War II, German U-boats set two small groups of Nazi agents ashore in Florida and Long Island to cause acts of sabotage within the country. The two teams were apprehended after one of the men contacted the FBI, and told them everything. He was also charged and convicted. During the war and for many years afterward, the FBI maintained a fictionalized version of the story in which it had preempted and caught the saboteurs solely by its own investigations and had even infiltrated the German government. This story was useful during the war to discourage the Germans by making the FBI seem more invincible than it really was, and perhaps afterward to similarly mislead the Soviets but it also served Hoover himself in his efforts to maintain a superhero-style image for the FBI in American minds.

The FBI participated in the Venona Project, a pre–World War II joint project with the British to eavesdrop on Soviet spies in the UK and the United States. It was not initially realized that espionage was being committed, but due to multiple wartime Soviet use of one-time pad ciphers, which are normally unbreakable, redundancies were created, enabling some intercepts to be decoded, which established the espionage. Hoover kept the intercepts—America’s greatest counterintelligencesecret—in a locked safe in his office, choosing not to inform President Truman, Attorney General J. Howard McGrath, or two Secretaries of State—Dean Achesonand General George Marshall—while they held office. He informed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the Venona Project in 1952.

In 1946, U.S. Attorney General Tom C. Clark authorized Hoover to compile a list of potentially disloyal Americans who might be detained during a wartime national emergency. In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Hoover submitted to President Truman a plan to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and detain 12,000 Americans suspected of disloyalty. Truman did not act on the plan.

COINTELPRO years – Main article: COINTELPRO

The same Hoover letter, with fewer redactions.

In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court decisions that limited the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, most notably communists. At this time he formalized a covert “dirty tricks” program under the name COINTELPRO.

This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971, after the theft of many internal documents stolen from an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and was the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party, where Hoover went after targets that ranged from suspected everyday spies to larger celebrity figures such as Charlie Chaplin who were seen as spreading Communist Party propaganda, and later organizations such as the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations. Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders. In 1975, the activities of COINTELPRO were investigated by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, called the Church Committee after its chairman, Senator Frank Church (D–Idaho), and these activities were declared illegal and contrary to the Constitution. Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files containing large amounts of compromising and potentially embarrassing information on many powerful people, especially politicians. According to Laurence Silberman, appointed Deputy Attorney General in early 1974, FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley thought such files either did not exist or had been destroyed. After The Washington Post broke a story in January 1975, Kelley searched and found them in his outer office. The House Judiciary Committee then demanded that Silberman testify about them.

In 1956, several years before he targeted King, Hoover had a public showdown with T.R.M. Howard, a civil rights leader from Mound Bayou, Mississippi. During a national speaking tour, Howard had criticized the FBI’s failure to thoroughly investigate the racially motivated murders of George W. Lee, Lamar Smith, and Emmett Till. Hoover wrote an open letter to the press singling out these statements as “irresponsible.”

Response to Mafia and civil rights groups

While Hoover had fought bank-robbing gangsters in the 1930s, anti-communism was a bigger focus for him after World War II, as the cold war developed. During the 1940s through mid-1950s, he seemed to ignore organized crime of the type that ran vice rackets such as drugs, prostitution, and extortion. He denied that any mafia operated in the U.S. In the 1950s, evidence of Hoover’s unwillingness to focus FBI resources on the Mafia became grist for the media and his many detractors. The Apalachin Meeting of late 1957 changed this it embarrassed the FBI by proving on newspaper front pages that a nationwide mafia syndicate thrived unimpeded by the nation’s “top cops”. Hoover immediately changed tack, and during the next five years, the FBI investigated organized crime heavily. Its concentration on the topic fluctuated in subsequent decades, but it never again merely ignored this category of crime.

Hoover’s moves against people who maintained contacts with subversive elements, some of whom were members of the civil rights movement, also led to accusations of trying to undermine their reputations. The treatment of Martin Luther King, Jr. and actress Jean Seberg are two examples. Jacqueline Kennedy recalled that Hoover told President John F. Kennedy that King tried to arrange a sex party while in the capital for the March on Washington and told Robert Kennedy that King made derogatory comments during the President’s funeral. Hoover, despite maintaining a public persona of a noble man, was privately racist and was not enthused about racial integration. After trying for a while to trump up evidence that would smear King as being influenced by communists, he discovered that King had a weakness for extramarital sex, and switched to this topic for further smears.

Hoover personally directed the FBI investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, just days before Hoover testified in the earliest stages of the Warren Commission hearings, President Lyndon B. Johnson waived the then-mandatory U.S. Government Service Retirement Age of seventy, allowing Hoover to remain the FBI Director “for an indefinite period of time.” The House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report in 1979 critical of the performance by the FBI, the Warren Commission, and other agencies. The report also criticized what it characterized as the FBI’s reluctance to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.

Late career and death

J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, photographed in 1961.

Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy each considered dismissing Hoover as FBI Director, but ultimately concluded that the political cost of doing so would be too great.

Hoover’s FBI investigated Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti, a special assistant and confidant to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1964. Despite Valenti’s two-year marriage to Johnson’s personal secretary, the investigation focused on rumors that he was having a gay relationship with a commercial photographer friend.

Hoover maintained strong support in Congress until his death at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972, from a heart attack attributed to cardio-vascular disease. His body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, where Chief Justice Warren Burger eulogized him. President Richard Nixon delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church. Nixon called Hoover “one of the giants. His long life brimmed over with magnificent achievement and dedicated service to this country which he loved so well.” Hoover was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next to the graves of his parents and a sister who died in infancy.

Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson. On May 3, Nixon appointed L. Patrick Gray, a Justice Department official with no FBI experience, as Acting Director, with W. Mark Felt remaining as Associate Director.


Genealogy Records May Indicate that J. Edgar Hoover Was African-American

Was founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover an African-American man?

Nearly 40 years after the death of founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, research may reveal that the crime fighting bureau chief was actually African-American according to “The Washington Post.”

“My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white,” says Millie McGhee, an African-American relative of Hoover’s. “If we talked about this, [Edgar] was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”

McGhee began to uncover facts about the possibility of Hoover’s Black ethnicity after she dug through altered court records, conducted oral interviews with both white and Black Hoovers and enlisted licensed genealogists who determined that Hoover was indeed a relative of hers.

The mystery of Hoover’s genealogy has become a topic of interest recently due to the the Clint Eastwood film “J. Edgar” released earlier this month. In the film, Eastwood makes no mention of Hoover’s race, much to the chagrin of his Black relatives such as McGhee.

“Since the movie has come out, so many people have asked me why my information about Hoover’s black roots was not included,” said McGhee who has authored two books on the topic, “Secrets Uncovered: J.Edgar Hoover-The Relative” and “Secrets Uncovered : J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White?”

Do you think McGhee’s research on J. Edgar Hoover’s genealogy should have been included in Eastwood’s film?


J. Edgar Hoover - HISTORY

Testimony of J. Edgar Hoover before HUAC (exceprts)
Digital History ID 3632

Author: J. Edgar Hoover
Date:1947

Annotation: These excerpts include J. Edgar Hoover’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He describes the terrible plan of communists in the United States. J. Edgar Hoover was director of the FBI beginning in the 1930s through 1972 when he died.


Document: March 26, 1947

My feelings concerning the Communist Party of the United States are well known. I have not hesitated over the years to express my concern and apprehension. As a consequence its professional smear brigades have conducted a relentless assault against the FBI. You who have been members of this committee also know the fury with which the party, its sympathizers and fellow travelers can launch an assault. I do not mind such attacks. What has been disillusioning is the manner in which they have been able to enlist support often from apparently well-meaning but thoroughly duped persons. .

The communist movement in the United States began to manifest itself in 1919. Since then it has changed its name and its party line whenever expedient and tactical. But always it comes back to fundamentals and bills itself as the party of Marxism-Leninism. As such, it stands for the destruction of our American form of government it stands for the destruction of American democracy it stands for the destruction of free enterprise and it stands for the creation of a "Soviet of the United States" and ultimate world revolution. .

The communist, once he is fully trained and indoctrinated, realizes that he can create his order in the United States only by "bloody revolution." Their chief textbook, "The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," is used as a basis for planning their revolution. Their tactics require that to be successful they must have:

1. The will and sympathy of the people.

2. Military aid and assistance.

3. Plenty of guns and ammunition.

4. A program for extermination of the police as they are the most important enemy and are termed "trained fascists."

5. Seizure of all communications, buses, railroads, radio stations, and other forms of communications and transportation. .

One thing is certain. The American progress which all good citizens seek, such as old-age security, houses for veterans, child assistance, and a host of others, is being adopted as window dressing by the communists to conceal their true aims and entrap gullible followers. .

The mad march of Red fascism is a cause for concern in America. But the deceit, the trickery, and the lies of the American communists are catching up with them. Whenever the spotlight of truth is focused upon them they cry, "Red-baiting." Now that their aims and objectives are being exposed, they are creating a Committee for the Constitutional Rights of Communists, and are feverishly working to build up what they term a quarter-million-dollar defense fund to place ads in papers, to publish pamphlets, to buy radio time. They know that their backs will soon be to the wall. .

What is important is the claim of the communists themselves that for every party member there are 10 others ready, willing and able to do the party's work. Herein lies the greatest menace of communism. For these are the people who infiltrate and corrupt various spheres of American life. So rather than the size of the Communist Party, the way to weigh its true importance is by testing its influence, its ability to infiltrate. .

The communists have developed one of the greatest propaganda machines the world has ever known. They have been able to penetrate and infiltrate many respectable public opinion mediums. They capitalize upon ill-founded charges associating known honest progressive liberals with left-wing causes. I have always entertained the view that there are few appellations more degrading than "communist" and hence it should be reserved for those justly deserving the degradation.

The communist propaganda technique is designed to promote emotional response with the hope that the victim will be attracted by what he is told the communist way of life holds in store for him. The objective, of course, is to develop discontent and hasten the day when the communists can gather sufficient support and following to overthrow the American way of life. .

Communists and their followers are prolific letter writers, and some of the more energetic ones follow the practice of directing numerous letters of protest to editors but signing a different name to each. Members of Congress are well aware of communists starting their pressure campaigns by an avalanche of mail which follows the party line. .

The American communists launched a furtive attack on Hollywood in 1935 by the issuance of a directive calling for a concentration in Hollywood. The orders called for action on two fronts: One, an effort to infiltrate the labor unions two, infiltrate the so-called intellectual and creative fields.

In movie circles, communists developed an effective defense a few years ago in meeting criticism. They would counter with the question "After all, what is the matter with communism?" It was effective because many persons did not possess adequate knowledge of the subject to give an intelligent answer. .

I feel that this committee could render a great service to the nation through its power of exposure in quickly spotlighting existing front organizations and those which will be created in the future. There are easy tests to establish the real character of such organizations:

1. Does the group espouse the cause of Americanism or the cause of Soviet Russia?

2. Does the organization feature as speakers at its meeting known communists, sympathizers, or fellow travelers?

3. Does the organization shift when the party line shifts?

4. Does the organization sponsor causes, campaigns, literature, petitions, or other activities sponsored by the party or other front organizations?

5. Is the organization used as a sounding board by or is it endorsed by communist-controlled labor unions?

6. Does its literature follow the communist line or is it printed by the communist press?

7. Does the organization receive consistent favorable mention in the communist publications?

8. Does the organization present itself to be nonpartisan yet engage in political activities and consistently advocate causes favored by the communists?

9. Does the organization denounce American and British foreign policy while always lauding Soviet policy?

10. Does the organization utilize communist "double-talk" by referring to Soviet dominated countries as democracies, complaining that the United States is imperialistic and constantly denouncing monopoly-capital?

11. Have outstanding leaders in public life openly renounced affiliation with the organization?

12. Does the organization, if espousing liberal progressive causes, attract well-known honest patriotic liberals or does it denounce well-known liberals?

13. Does the organization have a consistent record of supporting the American viewpoint over the years?

14. Does the organization consider matters now directly related to its avowed purposes and objectives?

The Communist Party of the United States is a fifth column if there ever was one. It is far better organized than were the Nazis in occupied countries prior to their capitulation. They are seeking to weaken America just as they did in their era of obstruction when they were aligned with the Nazis. Their goal is the overthrow of our government. There is no doubt as to where a real communist's loyalty rests. Their allegiance is to Russia, not the United States. .

What can we do? And what should be our course of action? The best antidote to communism is vigorous, intelligent, old-fashioned Americanism, with eternal vigilance. I do not favor any course of action which would give the communists cause to portray and pity themselves as martyrs. I do favor unrelenting prosecution wherever they are found to be violating our country's laws.

As Americans, our most effective defense is a workable democracy that guarantees and preserves our cherished freedoms.

I would have no fears if more Americans possessed the zeal, the fervor, the persistence and the industry to learn about this menace of Red fascism. I do fear for the liberal and progressive who has been hoodwinked and duped into joining hands with the communists. I confess to a real apprehension so long as communists are able to secure ministers of the gospel to promote their evil work and espouse a cause that is alien to the religion of Christ and Judaism. I do fear so long as school boards and parents tolerate conditions whereby communists and fellow travelers, under the guise of academic freedom, can teach our youth a way of life that eventually will destroy the sanctity of the home, that undermines faith in God, that causes them to scorn respect for constituted authority and sabotage our revered Constitution.

I do fear so long as American labor groups are infiltrated, dominated or saturated with the virus of communism. I do fear the palliation and weasel-worded gestures against communism indulged in by some of our labor leaders who should know better, but who have become pawns in the hands of sinister but astute manipulations for the communist cause.

I fear for ignorance on the part of all our people who may take the poisonous pills of communist propaganda.


Contents

In 1919, after Bolsheviks fail to assassinate Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, he puts his protégé J. Edgar Hoover in charge of a new division dedicated to purging radicals. Hoover quickly begins compiling a list of suspects. He meets Helen Gandy, a new secretary at the Justice Department, and takes her to the Library of Congress to show her the card catalog system he devised. He makes an awkward pass at her, then proposes to her. She refuses him, but agrees to become his personal secretary.

Hoover finds that the Department of Labor refuses to deport anyone without evidence of a crime. Learning that Anthony Caminetti, the Commissioner General of Immigration, dislikes the anarchist Emma Goldman, Hoover arranges to make her eligible for deportation and thereby creates a precedent of deportation for radical conspiracy. Following several such Justice Department raids of suspected radical groups, Palmer loses his job as Attorney General. His successor, Harlan F. Stone, appoints Hoover as director of the Justice Department's new Bureau of Investigation. Hoover meets lawyer Clyde Tolson, and hires him.

When the Lindbergh kidnapping captures national attention, President Herbert Hoover asks the Bureau to investigate. Hoover employs several novel techniques, including the monitoring of registration numbers on ransom bills and expert analysis of the kidnapper's handwriting. When the monitored bills begin showing up in New York City, the investigators find a filling station attendant who wrote down the license plate number of the man who gave him the bill. This leads to the arrest, and eventual conviction, of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh child.

After Hoover, Tolson, and Hoover's mother (with whom Hoover still lives) see the James Cagney film G Men, Hoover and Tolson go out to a club, where Hoover is seated with Anita Colby, Ginger Rogers, and Rogers' mother Lela. Rogers' mother asks Hoover to dance and he becomes agitated, saying that he and Tolson must leave, as they have a lot of work to do in the morning. When he gets home, he tells his mother that he dislikes dancing with girls. She tells him she would rather her son be dead than a "daffodil". She insists on teaching him to dance, and they dance in her bedroom.

Hoover and Tolson go on a vacation to the horse races. That evening, Hoover tells Tolson that he cares deeply for him, and Tolson tells Hoover that he loves him. Hoover panics and claims that he wants to marry Dorothy Lamour. Tolson accuses Hoover of making a fool out of him and they end up fighting on the floor. Tolson suddenly kisses Hoover, who says that must never happen again Tolson says that it won't, and tries to leave. Hoover apologizes and begs him to stay, but Tolson threatens to end their friendship if Hoover talks about another woman again. After Tolson leaves, Hoover says that he loves him, too.

Years later, Hoover feels his strength begin to decline, while Tolson suffers a stroke. Hoover tries to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr. into declining his Nobel Peace Prize, sending him a letter threatening to expose his extramarital affairs. King disregards this and accepts the prize.

Hoover tells Gandy to destroy his secret files after his death in order to prevent President Richard Nixon from possessing them. He visits Tolson, who urges him to retire. Hoover refuses, claiming that Nixon is going to destroy the bureau he has created. Tolson accuses Hoover of having exaggerated his involvement with key events of the Bureau. Moments later, Hoover tells Tolson that he needed Tolson more than he ever needed anyone else. He holds Tolson's hand, kisses his forehead, and leaves.

Hoover returns home from work, obviously weakened. Shortly after Hoover goes upstairs, his housekeeper calls Tolson, who goes to the house and finds Hoover dead next to his bed. A grief-stricken Tolson covers his friend's body. Nixon gives a memorial speech on television for Hoover, while several members of his staff enter Hoover's office and search through the cabinets and drawers in search of his rumored "confidential" files, but find nothing. In the last scene, Gandy destroys stacks of files.

    as J. Edgar Hoover as Clyde Tolson as Helen Gandy as Charles Lindbergh as Anna Marie Hoover, Hoover's mother as Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. as Bruno Richard Hauptmann as Robert F. Kennedy as Agent Smith, Hoover's biographer as John Condon as U.S. Attorney General Harlan F. Stone as Arthur Koehler as Albert S. Osborn as Walter Lyle as A. Mitchell Palmer as Lela Rogers as Richard Nixon as Agent Garrison as Emma Goldman as US Senator Kenneth McKellar as Inspector Schell as Raymond Caffrey as Shirley Temple as Anita Colby as Robert Irwin as Palmer's daughter as Edgar's niece

Gunner Wright and David A. Cooper are cast as future presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower [5] and Franklin D. Roosevelt, respectively, and are seen in the group of onlookers who arrive following the bombing at A. Mitchell Palmer's house.

Charlize Theron, who was originally slated to play Helen Gandy, dropped out of the project to do Snow White and the Huntsman, and Eastwood considered Amy Adams before finally selecting Naomi Watts as Theron's replacement. [6]

Critical response Edit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 43% based on 243 reviews, with an average rating of 5.72/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Leonardo DiCaprio gives a predictably powerhouse performance, but J. Edgar stumbles in all other departments: cheesy makeup, poor lighting, confusing narrative, and humdrum storytelling." [7] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, gives the film a normalized score of 59 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale. [9]

Roger Ebert awarded the film three-and-a-half stars (out of four) and wrote that the film is "fascinating" and "masterful". He praised DiCaprio's performance as a "fully-realized, subtle and persuasive performance, hinting at more than Hoover ever revealed, perhaps even to himself". [10] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, writing, "This surprising collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black tackles its trickiest challenges with plausibility and good sense, while serving up a simmeringly caustic view of its controversial subject's behavior, public and private." [11] David Denby in The New Yorker magazine also liked the film, calling it a "nuanced account" and calling "Eastwood's touch light and sure, his judgment sound, the moments of pathos held just long enough." [12]

J. Hoberman of The Village Voice wrote: "Although hardly flawless, Eastwood's biopic is his richest, most ambitious movie since Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers." [13]

Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a mixed review: "Any movie in which the longtime FBI honcho features as the central character must supply some insight into what made him tick, or suffer from the reality that the Bureau's exploits were far more interesting than the bureaucrat who ran it – a dilemma J. Edgar never rises above." [14] David Edelstein of New York Magazine reacted negatively to the film and said: "It's too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings." He praised DiCaprio's performance: "There's something appealingly straightforward about the way he physicalizes Hoover's inner struggle, the body always slightly out of sync with the mind that vigilantly monitors every move." [15]

Box office Edit

The film opened limited in 7 theaters on November 9, grossing $52,645, [16] and released wide on November 11, grossing $11.2 million in its opening weekend, [17] approximating the $12 million figure projected by the Los Angeles Times for the film's opening weekend in the United States and Canada. [2] J. Edgar went on to gross over $84.9 million worldwide and over $37.3 million at the domestic box office. [18] Breakdowns of audience demographics for the movie showed that ticket buyers were nearly 95% over the age of 25 and slightly over 50% female.

List of awards and nominations for J. Edgar
Date of ceremony Award Category Recipient(s) Result
January 27, 2012 AACTA Awards [19] Best Actor – International Leonardo DiCaprio Nominated
December 11, 2011 American Film Institute [20] Top 10 Films J. Edgar Won
January 12, 2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association [21] Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio Nominated
January 15, 2012 Golden Globe Awards [22] Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
December 1, 2011 National Board of Review [23] Top Ten Films J. Edgar Won
December 18, 2011 Satellite Awards [24] Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Leonardo DiCaprio Nominated
January 29, 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards [25] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Armie Hammer Nominated

In an interview on All Things Considered, Yale University history professor Beverly Gage, who is writing a biography of Hoover, stated that the film accurately conveys that Hoover came to the FBI as a reformer seeking "to clean it up, to professionalize it," and to introduce scientific methods to its investigation, eventually including such practices as fingerprinting and bloodtyping. She praises DiCaprio for conveying the tempo of Hoover's speech. However, she notes that the film's central narrative device in which Hoover dictates his memoirs to FBI agents chosen as writers, is fictitious: "He didn't ever have the sort of formal situation that you see in the movie where he was dictating a memoir to a series of young agents, and that that is the official record of the FBI." [26] Historian Aaron J. Stockham of the Waterford School, whose dissertation was on the relationship of the FBI and the US Congress during the Hoover years, wrote on the History News Network of George Mason University, "J. Edgar portrays Hoover as the man who successfully integrated scientific processes into law enforcement investigations. There is no doubt, from the historical record, that Hoover was instrumental in creating the FBI's scientific reputation." [27] Stockham notes that Hoover probably did not write the FBI–King suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., as the film portrays: "While such a letter was written, Hoover almost certainly delegated it to others within the Bureau." [27]


The House History Man

I'd read that J. Edgar Hoover was actually a mulatto passing for white. The photo you have of him here tends to support that claim. Actually, it makes you wonder how how he was able to pass . unless, like his being gay, people (i.e., the press) chose to just be silent on these facts.

The picture you have of the "living room" is actually his finished basement.

The image you have of the "living room" is actually his completed underground space.

dang. dang. dang! need to seriously look at that limosine company, driver policy and practice. seem like the
victims could not opened the door from the inside. driver may have had the children safety aka drunk passengers
lock-on. mmmm, so only the skinny people got out. dry them tears. time to sue. driver not shaken playin stupid.

Maurine Lucille Hill, Lt. Col. USA(ret), born in Kansas City, MO in 1929, has always claimed that her white grandfather was from Germany or his parents were originally from there and that her family is directly related by blood to J. Edgar Hoover thru them. She's alive, living in Suitland, MD and declares that when the remains of her brother, James Frank Hill, naval seaman killed in a race riot towards the end of WW2, was delivered to her family under guard with orders that the casket not be opened, John Edgar sent roses and a representative to his burial.

Colonel Hill, the first black woman to become State Commander of the MD D.A.V., states that her grandfather, 'Major' Hill, fought in the Civil War as a confederate officer. Following the war, he met, courted and married a black woman who arrived in the states in the employ of a family from Europe. They had two children, one light, bright and almost white, Charles, while the other, Henry, her father, was more dark skinned.

'Major' Hill's wife was raped and killed by two white men while he was away from home on Masonic business. When he returned to Alabama he located and killed them in retaliation, which forced him to flee the state with a very young son, Henry and one who was already a teen. He left the teen, Charles, with relatives en-route to Kansas, a slave free state. Charles went on to serve and retire as an officer in the Army, domiciled in the middle of the country, near but never visiting his darker brother since he was passing as a white man. Like J. Edgar, Charles maintained a very discrete contact with her father, usually just some roses or a letter or phone respectively. Colonel Hill says his descendants may have reached out to her some years ago but her frame of mind and the timing was wrong for a family reunion. Having recently reached her 85th birth anniversary she has reconsidered and welcomes any and all contact from her extended and heretofore unknown family members. She can be reached at PO Box 270, Temple Hills, MD 20757.


Watch the video: Джон Эдгар Гувер Большой брат Америки 1996 (November 2021).