Clyde Tolson

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Clyde Tolson
Clyde Tolson.jpg
Associate Director
of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
In office
1930–1972
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.
Domestic partner J. Edgar Hoover
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.

After initial rejection by the FBI, he was hired in 1927, sensing the opportunity as a stepping stone to a law practice in Cedar Rapids. 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.

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

Later life[edit]

In 1964, he suffered a stroke, and as a result, remained somewhat frail for the remainder of his life. 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] In 1970, although Tolson was too old for police duty and past retirement age, Hoover kept him employed in the FBI.

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, but one day later he was replaced by acting director L. Patrick Gray, appointed by President Richard Nixon. Tolson left the FBI two weeks later, leaving W. Mark Felt in operational charge of the FBI.

After his leaving his health began to decline and he died on April 14, 1975, of complications due to diabetes. 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 worked closely together in the daytime, ate their meals together, socialized together in the evenings, and even went on vacations together.[3] Rumors circulated for years that the two had a romantic relationship.[4] Some authors have dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexual orientation and a possible intimate relationship with Tolson,[5] while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed",[6] and still others have reported the rumors without stating an opinion.[7]

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.

Depictions in fiction[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library". Lbjlibrary.org. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  2. ^ Clyde Tolson, qu. in: Thurston Clarke, "The Last Good Campaign", Vanity Fair, No. 574, June, 2008, p. 173.
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "The Life and Career of J. Edgar Hoover" www.trutv.com
  5. ^ 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."
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Clyde Tolson (Character)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  9. ^ Los Angeles newspaper reviews, as cited on the CD recording's Amazon.com page.
  10. ^ 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]