Hoover's FBI Launched Gay Probe on Valenti

LBJ aide turned Hollywood figure was secretly scrutinized
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2009 6:31 AM CST
Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president in 1963. Jack Valenti, administrative assistant to Johnson, is back on left.   (AP Photo/White House, Cecil Stoughton, FILE)
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(Newser) – Before his long presidency of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti served as a top White House aide to LBJ. Recently declassified files show that, at the same time, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover was investigating whether Valenti, who died in 2007, was gay. Although no proof was ever found, the files offer a new perspective into how Hoover's FBI gathered compromising personal information, reports the Washington Post.

In the early 1960s, even an allegation of homosexuality was enough to end a career in Washington. The FBI questioned a friend of Valenti's, a photographer who said he had "homosexual tendencies," but agents relented after failing to prove that Valenti was, in one informant's phrase, "a sex pervert." By 1966, Hoover—himself long suspected of hiding his sexuality—sent Valenti a letter offering his congratulations on the birth of his son.