List of Famous Detectives People

List of Famous Detectives

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List of famous detectives, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top detectives in the world? This includes the most prominent detectives, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable 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 detectives.

Examples of people on this list: Jacqueline Shire, Allan Pinkerton and more.

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 detectives ever?" and "What are the names of famous detectives?" then you're in the right place. (41 items)


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  1. 1
    Allan Pinkerton
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    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
  2. 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: age 84
    • Birthplace: California, United States of America
    • Profession: Inspector
  3. 3
    Frank Serpico
    Photo: D_MacLeod

    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: age 79
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Police officer
  4. 4

    William J. Burns

    William J. Burns
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    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 and ...more

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    • Age: Died at 71 (1861-1932)
    • Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
  5. 5

    William J. Flynn

    William J. Flynn
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    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
  6. 6

    Jacqueline Shire

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    • Profession: Detective, Researcher
  7. 7
    Edward Conlon
    Photo: Freebase

    Edward W. Conlon is an author and former New York Police Department officer.more

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    • Age: age 50
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Police officer, Author, Actor
    • Credits: We Own the Night
  8. 8

    William E. Fairbairn

    William Ewart Fairbairn was a British soldier, police officer and exponent of hand-to-hand combat method, the close combat, for the Shanghai Police between the world wars, and allied special forces in World War II. He developed his own fighting system known as Defendu, as well as other weapons tactics.more

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    • Age: Died at 75 (1885-1960)
    • Birthplace: Rickmansworth, United Kingdom
  9. 9
    Tom Horn
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Thomas "Tom" Horn, Jr. was an American Old West scout, who carried out varied roles as hired gunman, Pinkerton, range detective, cowboy, and soldier. Believed to have committed 17 murders as a hired gunman in the West, in 1902 Horn was convicted of the murder of 14-year-old Willie Nickell near Iron ...more

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    • Age: Died at 43 (1860-1903)
    • Birthplace: Missouri, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Law enforcement officer
  10. 10
    Aníbal Cavaco Silva
    Photo: Freebase

    Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, GCC, is the 19th and current President of Portugal. He won the Portuguese presidential election on 22 January 2006 and was re-elected on 23 January 2011, for a second five-year term. Cavaco Silva was sworn in on 9 March 2006. He was previously Prime Minister of Portugal from ...more

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    • Age: age 76
    • Birthplace: Boliqueime, Portugal
    • Profession: Detective, Politician, Lecturer, Financial adviser, Economist
  11. 11

    Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith

    Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith were United States federal police officers, agents of the U.S. Prohibition Unit, who achieved the most number of arrests and convictions during the first years of the alcohol prohibition era. They were known nationally for successfully shutting down illegal speakeasies and ...more

  12. 12
    Chang Apana
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Chang Apana was a Chinese-Hawaiian member of the Honolulu Police Department, first as an officer, then as a detective. He was acknowledged by Earl Derr Biggers as the inspiration for his fictional Asian detective character, Charlie Chan.more

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    • Age: Died at 62 (1871-1933)
    • Birthplace: Waipio, Hawaii, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Paniolo, Police officer
  13. 13
    Jon Burge
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Jon Graham Burge is a convicted felon and former Chicago Police Department detective and commander who gained notoriety for torturing more than 200 criminal suspects between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions. A decorated United States Army veteran, Burge served tours in South Korea and Vietnam ...more

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    • Age: age 68
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Police officer
  14. 14

    Richard M. "Richie" Roberts is an American defense attorney licensed to practice law in the state of New Jersey. Roberts was a former law enforcement officer who worked as a detective in the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and Federal Bureau of Narcotics. After completing a law degree at Seton Hall ...more

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    • Age: age 78
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Law enforcement officer, Lawyer
  15. 15
    Ed Burns
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    Ed Burns is a producer, screenwriter, and novelist. He has worked closely with writing partner David Simon. They have collaborated on The Corner and The Wire. Burns is a former Baltimore police detective for the Homicide and Narcotics divisions, and a public school teacher. He often draws upon these ...more

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    • Age: age 69
    • Birthplace: Baltimore, USA, Maryland
    • Profession: Detective, Television producer, Novelist, Screenwriter
    • Credits: The Wire, Generation Kill
  16. 16
    Bill Clark
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Walter "Bill" Clark is a former New York Police Department first grade detective and an award-winning television writer and producer.more

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    • Age: age 71
    • Birthplace: Newfoundland, Canada
    • Profession: Detective, Soldier, Television producer, Screenwriter, Actor
    • Credits: NYPD Blue, Fallen, John from Cincinnati, Brooklyn South, Blind Justice
  17. 17

    John Yates is a former Assistant Commissioner in the London Metropolitan Police Service. As leader of the Metropolitan Police Service's Special Inquiry Squad, Yates was dubbed "Yates of the Yard" by the British press following his involvement in a number of cases with high media profiles. Yates came to ...more

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    • Age: age 56
    • Birthplace: United Kingdom
    • Profession: Detective
  18. 18

    Gareth Sewell Penn is an American true crime author and amateur detective known for being among the first non-journalists to write about the Zodiac Killer case. He published a theory about the killer's motives, publicly accused a noted UC Berkeley public policy professor of the crimes, and labeled ...more

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    • Age: age 74
    • Birthplace: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Author
  19. 19

    Mark Fuhrman

    Mark Fuhrman is a convicted felon and a former detective of the Los Angeles Police Department. He is primarily known for his part in the investigation of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman and his subsequent felony conviction for perjury. He has written true crime books and ...more

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    • Age: age 63
    • Birthplace: Eatonville, Washington, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective
  20. 20

    Ed Hickox

    Ed Hickox
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY

    Edwin William Hickox is an umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the American League from 1990 to 1999 and throughout both major leagues beginning in 2005. He wears uniform number 15. Hickox has officiated in the 2007, 2010, and 2012 National League Division Series, as well as the 2011 Major ...more

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    • Age: age 53
    • Birthplace: DeLand, Florida, United States of America
    • Profession: Detective, Umpire
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