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POPULAR List of Famous Detectives

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List of famous real detectives, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top real detectives in the world? This includes the most prominent real detectives, living and dead, both in America and abroad. These popular detectives are also inspirations for classic fictional characters and the most brilliant TV detectives. This list of notable real detectives is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic detectives were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned real detectives.

Examples of real detectives on this list include Raymond C. Schindler, William E. Fairburn, Dave Toschi, and more. The world's greatest detectives can all be found on this list. 

From reputable, prominent, and well known detectives to the lesser known detectives of today, these are some of the best professionals in the detective field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous real detectives ever?" and "What are the names of famous real detectives?" then you're in the right place. 

Allan Pinkerton is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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Allan Pinkerton was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. ...more

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Age: Died at 65 (1819-1884)

Birthplace: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Profession: Detective, Businessperson, Spy

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Dave Toschi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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2

Dave Toschi


David Ramon "Dave" Toschi is a former inspector in the San Francisco Police Department, where he served from 1952 to 1983. He is best known for his role as a chief investigator in the Zodiac Killer case, which he began work on after the murder of taxi driver Paul Stine. Shortly after he left the ...more

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Age: 85

Birthplace: California, United States of America

Profession: Inspector

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Raymond C. Schindler


Raymond C. Schindler is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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Birthplace: Mexico, New York, United States of America

Profession: Detective

Ignatius Paul Pollaky is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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Ignatius Paul Pollaky


Ignatius Paul Pollaky also known as "Paddington" Pollaky, born in Hungary, became one of the first and best-known professional private detectives in Britain. He also worked with London's Metropolitan Police, instigating alien registration in Britain. ...more

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Age: Died at 90 (1828-1918)

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Frank Serpico is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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Francesco Vincent Serpico is a retired American New York City Police Department officer who is famous for blowing the whistle on police corruption in the late 1960s and early 1970s, an act that compelled Mayor John V. Lindsay to appoint the landmark Knapp Commission to investigate the NYPD. Most of ...more

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Age: 81

Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York

Profession: Detective, Police officer

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William J. Burns is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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William J. Burns


William John Burns, known as "America's Sherlock Holmes," is famous for having conducted a private investigation clearing Leo Frank of the murder of Mary Phagan, and for serving as the director of the Bureau of Investigation from August 22, 1921 to May 10, 1924. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland ...more

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Age: Died at 71 (1861-1932)

Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America

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William J. Flynn is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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William J. Flynn


William James Flynn was the director of the Bureau of Investigation from July 1, 1919 to August 21, 1921. ...more

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Age: Died at 61 (1867-1928)

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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Jacqueline Shire


Jacqueline Shire is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Detectives
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Profession: Detective, Researcher

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