Weird History 14 Strange Facts About J. Edgar Hoover, The Eccentric Father of the Modern FBI  

Justin Andress
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If there’s one member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that pretty much everyone in the world could name without trouble, it’s J. Edgar Hoover. Best known as the country’s most famous G-man, Hoover’s work as director of the FBI began so long ago that there wasn’t even an “F” in front of it. In 1924, when Hoover took control, it was simply called the Bureau of Investigation. The “Federal” was added 11 years later in 1935.

Hoover may not have founded the FBI, but he certainly molded it into the institution citizens know today. As the head of the organization for nearly fifty years, Hoover has become a national icon, revered for the way he shaped the country’s domestic police force. In fact, Hoover is still so revered that the FBI’s national headquarters is named for him.

Of course, Hoover is also one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century. While some praise the way he guided the American policing process, others are put off by the secrets that Hoover kept firmly under wraps. You may have read a few of Hoover’s closely guarded tales, but you haven’t read them all. 

Until now, that is.

A Police Report Indicates He May Have Chased Young Boys

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Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Every summer, Hoover took a break in California. In the late 1960s, an officer in the LAPD’s vice squad reported that he’d conducted interviews with young men he’d rounded up during an investigation of the city’s pedophiles.

In those interviews the officer, Don Smith, says, “The kids brought up several famous names, including those of Hoover and his sidekick.”

Hoover Let the Mob Slide Because It Was Blackmailing Him

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Photo: Orlando Fernandez/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In the 1950s, when the cosa nostra was at the height of its power, the Federal Bureau of Investigation not only did nothing about it, but Hoover also actively denied that it was even a real thing. In 1950, the Special Committee on Organized Crime (also known as the Kefauver Committee) held several very public hearings in which they deduced that organized crime was, in fact, very real. In 1958, low-level FBI agents submitted reports indicating that this was absolutely the case.

Hoover, however, dismissed both of these claims as “baloney.” Why?

The prevailing theory is that the mob had some dirt on Hoover that would have exposed his homosexuality. At one point, iconic gangster Meyer Lansky said of Hoover, “I fixed that sonofabitch.”

He Kept Files On Pretty Much Everyone

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Photo: Aaron Shikler/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Throughout his career, Hoover ordered his agents to keep tabs on pretty much anyone he considered a threat - which was a lot of people. Basically, anyone with a high-enough profile was fair game for Hoover. As a result, the illustrious list of people that Hoover's FBI spent time compiling thousands of pages of intelligence on included: JFK, the Grateful Dead (whose file designates them as “a rock group of some sort”), Liberace, Charlie Chaplin, Hellen Keller,  Jackie Robinson, and even Colonel Sanders (a man who desperately wanted to be Hoover's friend).

Hoover would go to great lengths to get this information, even setting up illegal wiretaps to ensure he got the dirt on prominent public figures.

Hoover’s FBI Didn’t Allow Women

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Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Before and after Hoover’s tenure as head of the FBI, the Bureau was seemingly happy to induct women agents. That wasn’t the case, however, for the Hoover years. In fact, he seemed to be of the opinion that women were outright icky.

Not only did Hoover not allow women to join the Bureau as agents, but he also insisted that all female employees of the FBI wear skirts or dresses to work. Hoover didn’t even let women smoke at their desks because he considered smoking a “perk” for men alone to indulge in.