Long before Jack Valenti was the old guy who held up the Oscar broadcast to make a speech as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science, he was a top aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson– and a target of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, who investigated if Valenti was a closeted ‘mo, according to new evidence discovered in a Freedom of Information Act inquiry. Another fun revelation: Bill Moyers (yes, that one) was tasked with looking into Valenti’s sexual affairs.
Hoover, who as you know, was a bad fairy himself, never found any evidence that Valenti was gay, but this didn’t stop him and Republican operatives from digging into his life, despite LBJ’s insistence Hoover cool his dainty heels.
The Washington Post reports:
“Johnson initially blocked the FBI from obtaining a sworn statement from Valenti or approaching the photographer, asserting that Valenti was “attracted to the women and not to the men,” files show. But under FBI pressure, the president relented and approved an investigation of his close friend.
In the Washington of the early 1960s, allegations or proof of homosexuality could end a career. In October 1964, Walter Jenkins, another senior aide in the Johnson administration, was arrested for allegedly having sex in the men’s room of the Washington YMCA. The news leaked just before the election, and Johnson, rushing to stem the political damage, quickly secured the resignation of Jenkins, then his longest-serving aide.
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.
In Valenti’s case, agents located the photographer and he confirmed that he had attended parties with Valenti and stayed at his apartment on two occasions. But he stressed that Valenti was strictly a platonic friend, records show. Historians have suggested that Hoover himself may have been gay and that the bureau’s fascination with the sex lives of others was a manifestation of deeper currents in his psychology. Hoover never married and was a constant companion of his longtime FBI aide Clyde Tolson.”