Clyde Tolson

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Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson.jpg
Associate Director
of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
In office
President Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Mark Felt
Personal details
Born (1900-05-22)May 22, 1900
Laredo, Grundy County
Missouri, USA
Died April 14, 1975(1975-04-14) (aged 74)
Washington, D.C.
Alma mater George Washington University

George Washington University School of Law

Clyde Anderson Tolson (May 22, 1900 – April 14, 1975) was Associate Director of the FBI from 1930 until 1972, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé and companion of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Early career[edit]

Tolson was born in Laredo in Grundy County, Missouri, and attended Cedar Rapids Business College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. From 1919 to 1928, he was confidential secretary for three Secretaries of War: Newton D. Baker, John W. Weeks, and Dwight F. Davis. Tolson completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at George Washington University in 1925 and a law degree in 1927. While attending The George Washington University, Tolson became a member of the Delta Pi Chapter of The Sigma Nu Fraternity.[citation needed]

After initial rejection by the FBI in 1927, he was finally hired in April of 1928,[citation needed] looking on the opportunity as a stepping stone to a law practice in Cedar Rapids.[citation needed] After working in the Boston and Washington, D.C., field offices, he became the chief FBI clerk and was promoted to assistant director in 1930.[citation needed]

In 1936, Tolson joined Hoover to arrest bank robber Alvin Karpis[citation needed]; later that year, Tolson was in a gunfight with New York City gangster Harry Brunette[citation needed], and, in 1942, participated in capturing Nazi saboteurs on Long Island and Florida.[citation needed] In 1947, he was made FBI Associate Director with duties in budget and administration.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

Tolson's grave.

In 1964, he suffered a stroke, and as a result, remained somewhat frail for the remainder of his life.[citation needed] In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him a gold medal for distinguished federal civilian service saying Tolson “has been a vital force in raising the proficiency of law enforcement at all levels and in guiding the Federal Bureau of Investigation to new heights of accomplishment through periods of great National challenge.”[1] Hoover kept Tolson employed in the FBI even after he became too old for police duty and past retirement age.[citation needed]

It has been reported that Tolson once said of United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy: "I hope that someone shoots and kills the son of a bitch."[2]

When Hoover died on May 2, 1972 in Washington, D.C., Tolson was briefly the acting head of the FBI[citation needed], but L. Patrick Gray became director on May 3.[3] Tolson left the FBI two weeks later, leaving W. Mark Felt in operational charge of the FBI.[citation needed]

After his departure from FBI his health began to decline and he died on April 14, 1975, of complications due to diabetes.[citation needed] He was 74.

Relationship with Hoover[edit]

Clyde Tolson (left) with Hoover

It has been stated that J. Edgar Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego: They rode to and from work together, ate lunch together, traveled together on official business, and even vacationed together.[4] Rumors circulated for years that the two had a romantic relationship.[5] Some authors dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexual orientation and possible intimate relationship with Tolson,[6] while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed",[7] and still others reported the rumors without stating an opinion.[8] There does not appear to be any credible proof either way. Hoover was a very straitlaced, religious man who may have suppressed any physical interest he may have had in Tolson.[5]

When Hoover died, Tolson inherited his estate of $551,000 and moved into his house; he accepted the U.S. flag draped on Hoover's coffin. Tolson's grave is a few yards from Hoover's grave in the Congressional Cemetery.[citation needed]

Depictions in fiction[edit]

Tolson has been depicted numerous times in television and movies, including:


  1. ^ "Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library". Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  2. ^ Clyde Tolson, qu. in: Thurston Clarke, "The Last Good Campaign", Vanity Fair, No. 574, June, 2008, p. 173.
  3. ^ FBI Biography of Gray
  4. ^ Cox, John Stuart and Theoharis, Athan G. (1988). The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition. Temple University Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-87722-532-X. 
  5. ^ a b Bardsley, Marilyn. "The Life and Career of J. Edgar Hoover" (Charpter 6). ...The relationship was so close, so enduring, and so affectionate that it took the place of marriage for both bachelors. 
  6. ^ For example, Felt, W. Mark and O'Connor, John D. (2006). A G-man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat,' And the Struggle for Honor in Washington. Public Affairs. p. 167. ISBN 1-58648-377-3. ,
    Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (2003). Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence. Yale University Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-300-10159-7. ,
    Cox, John Stuart and Theoharis, Athan G. (1988). The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition. Temple University Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-87722-532-X.  "The strange likelihood is that Hoover never knew sexual desire at all."
  7. ^ For example, Percy, William A. and Johansson , Warren (1994). Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence. Haworth Press. pp. 85+. ISBN 1-56024-419-4. , Summers, Anthony (1993). Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-88087-X. 
  8. ^ For example, Edited by Theoharis, Athan G. (1998). The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide. Oryx Press. pp. 291, 301, 397. ISBN 0-89774-991-X. , Doherty, Thomas (2003). Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture. Columbia University Press. pp. 254, 255. ISBN 0-231-12952-1. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Clyde Tolson (Character)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  10. ^ Los Angeles newspaper reviews, as cited on the CD recording's page.
  11. ^ Gee, Catherine (15 March 2011). "Harry Shearer to bring 'J Edgar! The Musical' to London". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 

External links[edit]