childhood memories

That Time Tim Gunn (Possibly) Met J. Edgar Hoover In Drag

Back when he was a boy, and his father George William Gunn worked for the FBI, Tim Gunn visited his pops at FBI headquarters while J. Edgar Hoover — the agency’s first director — remained in charge. And that’s where he thinks he might’ve seen the suspected homosexual engage in a little crossdressing.

Jezebel relays Gunn’s childhood tale from a recent speech:

I was a big I Love Lucy fan. I still am. And we would, my sister and I would visit dad at the FBI headquarters about once a year and we would have the whole tour. On this one particular day, for the tour, Dad said to us, ‘You’re going to get the biggest kick out of this. Guess who’s in Mr. Hoover’s office?’ ‘Who!’ ‘Ethel Mertz. Vivian Vance!’ ‘No! Really?’ He says yes — would you like to meet her? And I of course, I would love to meet her. But I was also terrified. So, my sister and I were escorted in, and we met Miss Vance, who was lovely. And I never forgot it. However in the late ’80s, when these stories were coming out about Hoover and the cross-dressing, it was actually, apropos of our season, at the Thanksgiving dinner table because the family had assembled and my mother was talking about, oh, this terrible press, and these atrocious stories and how could this be. And I turned to my sister and I said, ‘Do you remember the time we visited Mr. Hoover in his office and met Vivian Vance?’ And she said yes. And I said, ‘You know, it strikes me now as really weird that Mr. Hoover wasn’t in the office!’ And those of you who know what Hoover looked like — picture J. Edgar Hoover. Picture Ethel Mertz. Picture them side by side.

Though for the record, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black — who’s penning a Hoover biopic — still believes Hoover did not wear lady garments. Let alone at FBI headquarters. But kudos to Gunn for saving a few nuggets for his next book.

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2 Comments

  • adman

    Haha, excellent story, somebody smart has to probe these mysteries in life! I <3 Tim Gunn.

  • curious

    “Hoover…did not wear lady garments”. Then, what in the world was he wearing when the mob took pictures of him; and that’s why his investigation of the mob came to a sudden halt?

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