“J. Edgar” from Clint Eastwood, and that cross dressing story...
During the publicity campaign for the launch of the new Clint Eastwood movie J. EDGAR, there have been critical references to the allegations in my biography of J. Edgar Hoover - shortly to be republished - that Hoover, apparently a more or less repressed homosexual, on occasion cross-dressed.
Here’s a response to such criticism:
The person principally cited on the cross-dressing is Susan Rosenstiel, a former wife of Lewis Rosenstiel, a millionaire distiller with close links to organized crime - and a longtime Hoover associate who contributed $1,000,000 to the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation. Those who suggest the former wife's cross-dressing claim is not credible raise the fact that she had pled guilty in 1971 to attempted perjury. I was aware of that, reported it in the original edition of my book Official and Confidential - and explained the circumstances.
The charge was brought in connection with a civil suit and - I was told by New York State Legislative Committee on Crime interviewees - was thought by them to be unprecedented and bizarre. Noting that the charge was brought the very week the Committee intended to produce Susan Rosenstiel as a witness to her former husband's Mafia links, the Committee sources said they thought the charge was instigated by Lewis, in an effort to discredit his former wife and thus obstruct the Committee's inquiry. Court records showed that Lewis Rosentiel had used similar tactics to obstruct the course of justice in the past.
During six years' work on Official and Confidential, which included repeated interviews with Susan Rosenstiel, her account on various areas - including the sex allegation - remained consistent. She signed an affidavit asserting that the information she provided was true. I asked Mrs. Rosenstiel to agree to a television interview and to grant me exclusivity for a matter of years, and paid her a fee in that connection. I emphasize, however, that the matter of a fee came up only after she had given me her lengthy initial interview, which was therefore not tainted by any payment.
New York Judge Edward McLaughlin, former Chief Counsel of the Crime Committee, and Committee investigator William Gallinaro, told me Mrs Rosentiel had been an excellent witness. "I thought her absolutely truthful," Judge McLauglin said. That too, was in my Hoover biography, and more - but was not quoted by any of those who assailed the passage on Susan Rosentiel in the book. Almost no one noted, moreover, that a similar account of alleged cross-dressing came to me from two other interviewees, referring to a different location and a different timeframe. On the basis of all of this, and after discussion with my publishers, we included her account - which was broader than the cross-dressing allegation - in the book.
I would note, finally, that the cross-dressing allegation is one passage in a biography of some 600 pages. The overall reporting on Hoover’s sexuality is pertinent to any study of the man, not least in the context of his insistence on the ruthless pursuit of homosexuals. It is one element in the evidence of Director Hoover's overall abuse of Americans' rights and freedoms.
Official & Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover
Revised and updated 2011
The acclaimed bestselling biography of J. Edgar Hoover will imminently be republished in both the United States and the UK. The product of more than five years of research, Official & Confidential is as fast-paced as any thriller. The book caused a furor when first published in 1993 and is the subject of renewed debate with the release of Clint Eastwood’s Hoover biopic, J. EDGAR.
From the first edition
J. Edgar Hoover held more power in the United States, for longer, than any man in history. As Director of the FBI for nearly fifty years, from 1924 until his death in 1972, he was long portrayed as a full-fledged American Hero. Four decades on, it is clear he was a master manipulator of presidents and politicians, a charlatan whose holier-than-thou super cop image was no more than a carefully engineered pose.
Was Hoover a master blackmailer? Why did he fail to pursue the Mafia? Was he, as rumored, a closet homosexual? Anthony Summers’ masterful biography, Official & Confidential: The Secret Life of J.EDGAR HOOVER presents:
“A brilliant account….thrilling and detailed”
The New York Times
“The exposure we have been waiting for these last forty years”
“Vastly enjoyable and revealing”
“Hoover emerges as a deviant of the first order: blackmailer, con man, transvestite, friend of the Mafia and congenital liar…”
Sunday Telegraph [UK]
“An amazing biography…The man who destroyed or undermined the civil liberties of millions…was in fact a stinking hypocrite, a moral corkscrew.”
The Observer [UK]
● Evidence that Lyndon Johnson became Vice President, and thus eventually President, because Hoover threatened to expose John F. Kennedy's sex life.
● Proof of Hoover's malignant spying on senators and congressmen - including the use of penetration agents, wiretaps and hidden microphones on Capitol Hill.
● Devastating documentation of Hoover's manipulation
of presidents from Roosevelt to Nixon - in a career that
ended in his death on the eve of Watergate – with
unidentified agents ransacking his house. In the panic
over the dark secrets Hoover held over Nixon, it is just
possible there may have been a plot to murder him.
● Evidence of how, in his last years, Hoover's FBI ran
amok - with "dirty tricks" operations targeted against
thousands of citizens. Hoover persecuted Vietnam
veterans turned war objectors, tried to destroy civil
rights activists with tactics ranging from vicious
rumor-spreading to setting men up for murder.
● The pathetic truth behind Hoover's persecution of Martin
Luther King and other black leaders. He was tormented,
from youth, by the notion that he himself had negro blood.
● Mafia talk that suggests why Hoover let organized crime spread uncontrolled for decades – until the Kennedys intervened. The mob, in the shape of master criminal Meyer Lansky, early on knew the answer to the question millions of Americans still ask themselves. Was Hoover, who never married, a closet homosexual? The Mafia reportedly had the evidence.
● Exposure of Hoover's secret sex life. Firsthand witnesses describe Hoover’s relationship with his constant companion, Clyde Tolson, of the way Hoover often suppressed his urges and persecuted fellow homosexuals - only to break out with lapses that could have destroyed him, alleged transvestite orgies in a New York hotel, trysts with teenage boys in a limousine on a California mountain top. The widow of an eminent Washington psychiatrist reveals that her husband treated Hoover – and that he was “very paranoid about anyone finding out he was a homosexual…”
Clyde Tolson joined the FBI in 1928 and rose to become Assistant Director within three years. He and Edgar reportedly became lovers and vacationed together every year
In his final years, retired agents presented Edgar with a bust of himself
Copyright Anthony Summers, 2014
● Revelations of Hoover's personal corruption, ranging from profiteering from oil investments to the construction of imitation moons to amuse a Hollywood film star, to using the FBI crime laboratory to analyze animal droppings found on his lawn. Like Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover was obsessive about
● For the first time, the explanation of what made this complex American colossus tick. Eminent psychiatric opinion analyzes the child who rejected his mentally ill father, then lived at home alone with his mother into middle-age. Hoover emerges as "suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder combined with paranoia... I would have been a perfect high-level Nazi."