Federal Bureau of Investigation
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Mark Felt|
May 22, 1900|
Laredo, Grundy County
|Died||April 14, 1975
|Domestic partner||J. Edgar Hoover|
|Alma mater||George Washington University
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.
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 in 1927, he was finally hired in April of 1928, 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.
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.” In 1970, although Tolson was too old for police duty and past retirement age, Hoover kept him employed in the FBI.
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
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. Rumors circulated for years that the two had a romantic relationship. Some authors have dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexual orientation and a possible intimate relationship with Tolson, while others have described them as probable or even "confirmed", and still others have reported the rumors without stating an opinion.
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
Tolson has been depicted numerous times in television and movies, including:
- The 1977 film The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover portrayed by Dan Dailey
- The 1984 TV movie Concealed Enemies portrayed by Ralph Byers
- The 1987 TV movie J. Edgar Hoover portrayed by actor Robert Harper
- The 1992 TV movie Citizen Cohn portrayed by Daniel von Bargen
- The 1994 satirical radio play "J. Edgar," written by Harry Shearer, portrayed by John Goodman
- The 1995 film Nixon portrayed by Brian Bedford
- The 2011 film J. Edgar portrayed by Armie Hammer 
- "Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library". Lbjlibrary.org. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- Clyde Tolson, qu. in: Thurston Clarke, "The Last Good Campaign", Vanity Fair, No. 574, June, 2008, p. 173.
- 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.
- Bardsley, Marilyn. "The Life and Career of J. Edgar Hoover" www.trutv.com
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- "Clyde Tolson (Character)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- Los Angeles newspaper reviews, as cited on the CD recording's Amazon.com page.
- Gee, Catherine (15 March 2011). "Harry Shearer to bring 'J Edgar! The Musical' to London". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- Associate Director Tolson's personnel records and copies of memoranda at FBI's FOIA Website
- NNDB - Clyde Tolson
- Spartacus Educational - Clyde Tolson
- NameBase - Tolson Clyde Anderson (Archive)
- "Clyde Tolson". Find a Grave. Retrieved June 10, 2013.