History

Jack Valenti's R-Rated White House Waterplay: A Sign of Secret Gay Hi-Jinks? Your FBI Is On the Case!

|

Recovered history: J. Edgar Hoover's intense interest in the question, Is Jack Valenti a homosexual?

When Beltway insider Jack Valenti died two years ago at age 85, he was playing the role of intermediary between Washington and Hollywood as the theatrical, snowy-haired president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

But back in 1964, Valenti was a Houston ad executive newly installed at the White House as a top aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. And J. Edgar Hoover's FBI found itself quietly consumed with the vexing question of whether Valenti was gay.

Previously confidential FBI files show that Hoover's deputies set out to determine whether Valenti, who had married two years earlier, maintained a relationship with a male commercial photographer. Republican Party operatives reportedly were pursuing a parallel investigation with the help of a retired FBI agent, bureau files show. No proof was ever found, but the files, obtained by The Washington Post under the federal Freedom of Information Act, provide further insight into the conduct of the FBI under Hoover, for whom damaging personal information on the powerful was a useful tool in his interactions with presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard M. Nixon.

And what set off the spy chief's probe into another man's sex life? This:

[I]n October 1964, a man whose name has been redacted from the records called an FBI official in New York. The caller encouraged the FBI to investigate Valenti "as a sex pervert," files show. "He based this request on the fact that he had read in the newspapers that Valenti swims in the nude in the White House pool."

NEXT: My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And what set off the spy chief’s probe into another man’s sex life?

    Sorry to be a nitpicker, Jesse, but the head of the FBI wouldn’t really be a “spy chief”; that would be the head of the CIA. The FBI carries out counterespionage.

  2. Episiarch, how does the FBI get all the needed information to carry out the counterespionage? I imagine some spying is involved. And since we’re talking about Hoover, spying happened.

  3. Stop being a dick Episiarch…

  4. Stop being a dick Episiarch…

    Really, he’s more of a pedant, which is arguably worse.

  5. Ok, ok, my pedantic moment was a fail. In my defense, I had just recently woken up and the caffeine hadn’t taken effect yet.

  6. I’ve been wondering, was there ever any person who held so much power, for so long, as J. Edgar? I think a case could easily be made that he was the most influential American ever. And responsible for a lot of the fucked-upness in the US today.

  7. You guys missed the money quote in the story. ” “Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members.”

    Mr. NPR we live in a police state liberal was a character right out of “The Lives of Others” when he had the chance to be. Moyers is truely scum. How do people like him sleep at night?

  8. Moyers was a really ruthless character back then. The contrast with his public persona now is very striking.

  9. Jessee,

    Wasn’t Moyers the one who came up with the famous little girl and A-bomb add against Goldwater?

  10. I read this not as Hoover seeking blackmail material, but as Hoover looking for a date.

  11. he had read in the newspapers that Valenti swims in the nude in the White House pool.

    So *that’s* why Nixon had the pooled filled with concrete!

  12. John: The ad was the work of the late Tony Schwartz. I suppose Moyers may have played some role in, say, pushing to use it; I don’t know if he did or didn’t.

    R.C.: You win the thread.

  13. While speculations on Hoover’s sexual orientation make for good jokes and all it is worth remembering that the stories that were circulated were from his opponents and it was done so at a time that homosexuality was almost universally regarded as a “bad thing”.

    Nevertheless it’s certainly true that his relationship with Tolson is suspect in this regard. But many of the more outlandish allegations about J Edgar (eg crossdressing etc) do not seem to be well supported and some have been proved to be entire fabrications.

    Of course, the fact that homosexuality was almost universally regarded as a “bad thing” was a big motivation behind these investigations. Gays were considered especially vulnerable to blackmail and therefore poor security risks.

    Security agencies took an interest in the extra-curriculars of heteros too. And it was not out of a prurient interest. It’s simply that you don’t want people who are vulnerable to blackmail to have access to sensitive information.

    Incidentally, Moyers was the one who brought up allegations of gays in Goldwater’s campaign staff. He has since had the decency to publicly admit it and apologise. As I mentioned before, this was long before “gay rights” was any kind of liberal cause.

    Everyoneknew” that homosexuals were disgusting perverts in those days.

  14. Hell, boys! Ah usta swim nekkid in the White House Pool!

  15. Moyers may not have created the Daisy Ad, but he signed off on it.

    Kevin

  16. The story also mentioned that the Republican party was doing their own investigation — reading between the lines, I think this started as a defensive investigation to see if Valenti’s association with the White House could create a damaging scandal.

  17. From the Washington Post:

    Even Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members. Moyers said by e-mail yesterday that his memory is unclear after so many years but that he may have been simply looking for details of allegations first brought to the president by Hoover.

    ?Seven days later, DeLoach pressed Johnson again and he relented. In the same conversation, a memo shows, they discussed a request from Moyers, then a special assistant to Johnson, that the FBI investigate two other administration figures who were “suspected as having homosexual tendencies.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/18/AR2009021803819_pf.html

  18. “I’ve been wondering, was there ever any person who held so much power, for so long, as J. Edgar?”

    Johnny Carson

  19. “…and don’t try any of your preversions in there, or I’ll blow your head off….”

  20. Moyers may not have created the Daisy Ad, but he signed off on it.

    Yes — looks like he was definitely an advocate for it. Thanks for the link.

  21. “He based this request on the fact that he had read in the newspapers that Valenti swims in the nude in the White House pool.”

    I’ve heard it said that the average bureau agent from the Hoover era was the kind of guy who’d get out of the shower to pee…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.