On May 10, 1924, J. Edgar Hoover began his 48-year tenure as the FBI director. During his tenure, Hoover became a national icon and personally shaped American criminal justice in the 20th century. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about J. Edgar Hoover.
The Mob Made Him an Offer He Couldn’t Refuse In the 1950s, when La 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. The Special Committee on Organized Crime held several public hearings in which they concluded that organized crime was, in fact, very real. Hoover, however, dismissed the claim as “baloney.” The prevailing theory is that the mob had some dirt on Hoover that would have exposed that he was a member of LGBTQ+ community.
Hoover Dug up Dirt On Everybody Throughout his career, Hoover ordered his agents to keep track of pretty much anyone he considered a threat - which was a lot of people. Anyone with a high profile was fair game for Hoover. As a result, Hoover's FBI compiled thousands of pages of intelligence on notable individuals including JFK, Martin Luther King, Liberace, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller and even Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.
Hoover’s FBI Didn’t Allow Women Not only did Herbert Hoover not allow women to join the Bureau as agents, but he also forbid women from wearing slacks and 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.
Hoover Kept a Close Eye On Albert Einstein Hoover was extremely suspicious of Albert Einstein, and sent out several memos in which he advocated keeping Einstein away from government business. Hoover was so obsessed with Einstein, that the FBI file on Einstein was over 1,800 pages, none of which ever actually found the scientist guilty of wrongdoing. When the physicist was denied employment on the Manhattan Project, the FBI stated, “In view of his radical background, this office would not recommend the employment of Dr. Einstein on matters of a secret nature without a very careful investigation, as it seems unlikely that a man of his background could, in such a short time, become a loyal American citizen.”
It Is Believed That Hoover Wore Women’s Perfume There were many rumors that Hoover wore women’s clothing in his downtime. During the Gridiron Club dinner attended by President Bill Clinton, he joked, “I might have to pick an FBI Director, and it’s going to be hard to fill J. Edgar Hoover’s pumps.” It was also common knowledge that the FBI director preferred to wear women’s perfume over men’s cologne—something he refused to talk about.