Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Reel People: Leonardo DiCaprio is J. Edgar Hoover

The film is J. Edgar and is directed by Clint Eastwood and is written by Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black (Milk).

John Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover was born in Washington DC on New Year's Day in 1895. He was born to Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. and Anna Marie.

J. Edgar Hoover went to college at George Washington University, where he obtained a law degree in 1917. During his time in school he worked for The Library of Congress.

Upon graduating, Hoover would work for the United States Justice Department, quickly rising to a post of head of the general intelligence division for the Bureau of Investigation within the Justice Dept, which was one leap away from the post of deputy head (a position he acquired in 1921), followed by being appointed by the attorney general as the acting director of the Bureau of Investigation. This was formalized that year by President Calvin Coolidge making J. Edgar Hoover the 6th director of Bureau of Investigation, a bureau that had begun in 1908.

During this time Hoover would also become a member of the fraternal organization, the Freemason's where he held the highest degree, as a "Master Mason."

From the issues of WWI with attempts to deport radical leftist in the raids under the leadership of attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer, to in his initial years concentrating on prohibition and bootleggers. From here, Hoover would transition to the gangster wars of the 1930s. Because cars were stolen and driven across state lines, these gangster's like John Dillinger, because federal offenders and Hoover had the opportunity to go over them with federal resources.

It was during this time that the Bureau of Investigations was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, marking Hoover as the first director of the FBI. Much of this was due to the high profile nature of the matters that Hoover and his G-Men.

From the time that Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924 to the transition to the FBI in 1935, Hoover would lead the FBI until his death, May 2, 1972. This made him by far the longest director of the FBI ever, with 5 other FBI directors appointed since his death (11 if you include acting, not appointed directors).

His FBI career became most marked by his efforts with gangsters, prohibition, a general denial of organized crime, wire taping, and spying.

Hoover's ability to move from the trends of the times meant he would go from prohibition, to gangsters, to German counter-intelligence, to soviets, to political radicals to the investigation of the death of President John Kennedy.

Because of Hoover's long running career the presidential cost of dismissing Hoover seemed too great, and so it was he served until his 1972 death. This meant he was director of the FBI under the presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.

He died of a heart attack and was buried in Washington D.C.

J. Edgar Hoover's personal life was somewhat of a mystery clouded by rumors of various relationships with people like actress Dorothy Lamour in 1930s or Ginger Rogers' mother Lela Rogers. But the largest rumor and point of disagreement between various biographers involves Hoover's sexuality, and the question of whether he was gay.

The speculation of Hoover's gay life also comes with the speculation relating to Hoover's closest friend Clyde Tolson who was the associate director of the FBI, a position he held in 1947, after having worked with Hoover on a variety of high profile cases in the earlier decades. His close working relationship with Hoover also seemed to lead to at least a friendship that meant that they regularly spent time together away from work including regular meals together, vacationing and going to night clubs.

When J. Edgar Hoover died he left his home and estate to Tolson. Tolson died shortly after Hoover in 1975 and is buried near Hoover's grave in Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC.

J. Edgar

The film J. Edgar is said to focus primarily on Hoover's earliest days including the Palmer Raids and the Lindbergh baby trial, as well as extensively on the potential relationship with Clyde Tolson, although how this relationship will be portrayed onscreen, particularly with a screenplay written by Dustin Lance Black, the gay activist who won an Oscar for his screenplay about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Hoover, while the role of Tolson is played by Armie Harmer (known primarily for playing Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss in The Social Network).

Naomi Watts plays Helen Gandy, Hoover's secretary, whom he highly praised. Gandy is partially famous for her destroying many government records and documents belonging to Hoover after he died, documents that have led to much speculation about what Gandy was protecting. These documents were claimed to be personal property of Hoover.

Judi Dench plays the part of J. Edgar's mother Anna Marie Hoover.

Roles have also been cast for Charles Lindbergh (Josh Lucas) and the German accused of the death and abduction of the Lindbergh baby, Bruno Hauptmann (Damon Herriman).

The film will also feature portrayals of Norman Schwatkof (Dermot Mulroney), Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, A. Mitchell Palmer, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

With 3 nominations thus far, Leo DiCaprio is no stranger to the Oscar ceremony. In the role of this iconic and controversial figure will DiCaprio score another nomination and perhaps even a win for his portrayal of this Reel (Real) Person?

1 comment:

mae said...

Didn't he play Hearst in "The Aviator" also?

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