|1st Associate Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation|
1930 – May 3, 1972
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Mark Felt|
|Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation|
May 2, 1972 – May 3, 1972
|Preceded by||J. Edgar Hoover|
|Succeeded by||L. Patrick Gray (acting)|
Clyde Anderson Tolson
May 22, 1900
Laredo, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||April 14, 1975 (aged 74)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Education||George Washington University (BA, LLB)|
|Awards||President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service (1965)|
Clyde Anderson Tolson (May 22, 1900 – April 14, 1975) was the second-ranking official of the FBI from 1930 until 1972, from 1947 titled Associate Director, primarily responsible for personnel and discipline. He is best known as the protégé, long-time top deputy, and possible lover of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
Tolson was born in Laredo, Missouri to James William Tolson, a farmer and railroad freight guard, and Joaquin Miller Tolson (née Anderson). His brother, Hillory Alfred Tolson (1887–1983), was assistant director of the National Park Service and executive director of the White House Historical Association, and an FBI agent before entering the Park Service. Tolson graduated from Laredo High School in 1915 and attended Cedar Rapids Business College, from which he graduated in 1918.
From 1919 to 1928, Tolson was confidential secretary for three Secretaries of War: Newton D. Baker, John W. Weeks, and Dwight F. Davis. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at George Washington University in 1925 and a Bachelor of Laws from the same institution in 1927. While attending George Washington, Tolson became a member of the Delta Pi chapter of Sigma Nu.
In 1928, Tolson applied to the FBI and was hired as a Special Agent later that year. Tolson reportedly indicated on his application that he wanted to use the job as a stepping stone to gain experience and earn enough money to open a law practice in Cedar Rapids. After working in the FBI's 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, he survived a gunfight with gangster Harry Brunette. In 1942, Tolson participated in capturing Nazi saboteurs on Long Island and in Florida. In 1947, he was made FBI Associate Director with duties in budget and administration.
Relationship with Hoover
It has been stated that J. Edgar Hoover described: "They rode to and from work together, ate lunch together, and often traveled together on official or unofficial business." Their relationship has been described as "what many considered a 'spousal' relationship between the two men". Some authors dismissed the rumors about Hoover's sexual orientation and possible intimate relationship with Tolson, while others have described them as probable or even confirmed, and still others reported the rumors without stating an opinion. The two men often spent weekends together in New York, Christmas season together in Florida, and the start of the Del Mar horse racing season together in California.
In 1964, Tolson suffered a stroke and remained somewhat frail for the remainder of his life. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, saying that 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." Hoover kept Tolson employed in the FBI even after Tolson became too old for police duty and passed the retirement age.
After Hoover's death on May 2, 1972, Tolson was briefly the acting head of the FBI. L. Patrick Gray became acting director on May 3. Citing ill health, Tolson retired from the bureau on May 4, the day of Hoover's funeral. Mark Felt was appointed to Tolson's position.
After Tolson left the FBI, his health began to decline further. On April 10, 1975, Tolson was admitted to Doctors Community Hospital in Washington, D.C., for kidney failure. He died there four days later of heart failure at the age of 74. Tolson is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C., near Hoover's grave.
Depictions in fiction
Tolson has been depicted numerous times in novels, 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 1997 novel Underworld by Don DeLillo
- The 2011 film J. Edgar portrayed by Armie Hammer
- The 2013 TV movie The Curse of Edgar portrayed by actor Anthony Higgins
- The 2015 comic Providence by Alan Moore
- Gage, Beverly (November 10, 2011). "Were J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson Lovers?". Slate.com. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
- "J. Edgar Hoover: Gay or Just a Man Who Has Sex With Men?". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
- "J. Edgar Hoover Was Homosexual, Blackmailed by Mob, Book Says". Los Angeles Times. February 6, 1993. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
- American National Biography, vol. 21, John Arthur Garraty, Mark Christopher Carnes, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 730
- Gelder, Lawrence Van (April 15, 1975). "Clyde Tolson, Former FBI. Official, Is Dead at 74". The New York Times.
- Kessler, Ronald (2003). The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI. Macmillan. p. 29. ISBN 0-312-98977-6.
- Who was Who in America, vol. 8, 1982-1985, Marquis Who's Who, 1985, p. 399
- "Hillory Tolson, Park Service Official, Dies". Washingtonpost.com.
- The Delta of Sigma Nu, Volume 81, Issue 3. Sigma Nu Fraternity. 1964. p. 138.
- Jerome, Fred (2003). The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover's Secret War Against the World's Most Famous Scientist. Macmillan. p. 168. ISBN 1-429-97588-1.
- Powers, Richard Gid (1987). Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1 ed.). Free Press. p. 169. ISBN 0-029-25060-9.
- Bond Potter, Claire (1998). War on Crime: Bandits, G-men, and the Politics of Mass Culture. Rutgers University Press. p. 48. ISBN 0-813-52487-3.
- Gentry, Curt (2001). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 189. ISBN 0-393-32128-2.
- Cohen, Richard M. (April 15, 1975). "FBI's Clyde A. Tolson, 74, Dies". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. C6.
- Wicker, Tom (April 9, 1971). "Nobody dares to pick his successor". Life. Vol. 70, no. 13. Time Inc. p. 44. ISSN 0024-3019.
- (Kessler 2003, p. 49)
- Cox, John Stuart; 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". Crime Library. Archived from the original (Chapter 6: Homosexual?) on February 9, 2015.
... The relationship was so close, so enduring, and so affectionate that it took the place of marriage for both bachelors.
- Felt, Mark; 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, Theoharis 1988, p. 108) harv error: no target: CITEREFCox,_Theoharis1988 (help): "The strange likelihood is that Hoover never knew sexual desire at all."
- Percy, William A.; Johansson, Warren (1994). Outing: Shattering the conspiracy of silence. Haworth Press. pp. 85ff. ISBN 1-56024-419-4.
- Summers, Anthony (1993). Official and Confidential: The secret life of J. Edgar Hoover. Pocket Books. pp. 83–92. ISBN 0-671-88087-X.
- Theoharis, Athan G., ed. (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.
- (Gentry 2001 p. 190)
- de Toledano, Ralph (1973). J. Edgar Hoover: The man in his time. Arlington House. p. 375. ISBN 0-870-00188-4.
- Boggs Roberts, Rebecca; Schmidt, Sandra K. (2012). Historic Congressional Cemetery. Arcadia Publishing. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-738-59224-4.
- "Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library". Lbjlibrary.org. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- "FBI Biography of Gray". Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
- (Gentry 2001, pp. 43, 49)
- Breuer, William B. (1995). J. Edgar Hoover and His G-men. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 229. ISBN 0-275-94990-7.
- (Gentry 2001, p. 49)
- "G-men under fire". Life. Vol. 70, no. 13. April 9, 1971. p. 39. ISSN 0024-3019.
- (Gentry 2001, p. 736)
- Los Angeles newspaper reviews, as cited on the CD recording's Amazon.com page.
- Gee, Catherine (March 15, 2011). "Harry Shearer to bring 'J Edgar! The Musical' to London". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Don DeLillo, Underworld (New York: Scribner, 1997), pp. 555-65, 567-79.