NEW YORK -- J. Edgar Hoover protected organized crime for years because top mobsters had evidence of his homosexual activities, including his dressing in flouncy miniskirted drag and taking part in hotel orgies, according to excerpts from a new book about the late FBI director.
Excerpts from 'Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover' by Anthony Summers, were made public Friday. The book is due to be published later this month by Putnam and the excerpts will appear in the March issue of Vanity Fair magazine, which goes on sale next Wednesday.
The book claims underworld bosses Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky obtained hard proof of Hoover's homosexuality in the form of photographs of the FBI director having sex with his longtime aide, Clyde Tolson.
It said the photos may have been obtained from the Office of Strategic Services chief, William Donovan, who had a feud with Hoover and obtained compromising information to use against him.
'To Costello and Lansky, the ability to corrupt poiticans, policemen and judges was fundamental to Mafia operations,' Summers wrote. 'The way they found to deal with Hoover, according to several mob sources, involved his homosexuality.'
Hoover's folly was compounded by being involved in at least two orgies at the Plaza Hotel by the late attorney Roy Cohn and Lewis S. Rosensteil, the Schenley liquor mogul and benefactor of Brandeis University who had ties to to both Costello and Lansky, the book asserts, quoting Rosensteil's fourth wife, Susan.
Mrs. Rosensteil claims to have attended the orgies with her husband in 1958. On the first occasion Hoover, whom Mrs. Rosensteil had met and recognized, was wearing 'a fluffly black dress, very fluffy, with flounces, and lace stockings and high heels, and a black curly wig.'
'He had makeup on, and false eyelashes. It was a very short skirt and he was sitting there in the living room of the suite with his legs crossed. Roy introduced him as 'Mary.''
On the second occasion, Hoover was wearing a similar dress but in red with a black feather boa around his neck 'like an old flapper, like you see on old tintypes,' Rosensteil said.
Young boys joined the party and engaged in sexual activities with Hoover, Cohn, and her husband, according to Rosensteil, who said Hoover had one of the boys read from the Bible while the other played with him.
Publication of excerpts from Summers' book coincided with the release of the contents of a Public Broadcasting Service show that will be broadcast nationally next Tuesday on 'Frontline' under the title, 'The Secret File on J. Edgar Hoover.'
It claims 'startling new evidence' that Hoover tried to pressure John F. Kennedy into accepting Lyndon B. Johnson as his vice presidential running mate in 1960 by providing LBJ with reports of Kennedy's 'womanizing.'
Other findings include claims that Hoover benefitted from horse races fixed by the mob and routinely used FBI vehicles and employees for personal purposes.
The show quotes Summers as saying a New England mobster, Irving Resnick, told him in 1971 that Lansky 'controlled' compromising pictures of Hoover with Tolson and that he had made a deal with Hoovers to 'lay off' the mob.
'That was the reasons that for a long time, we had nothing to fear from the FBI,' Resnick told Summers, according to the author.
William Cram, producer of the documentary, said the testimony 'strongly suggests Hoover may have been blackmailed and that is why Hoover allowed the mob to operate unchallenged for nearly two decades.'
The show quotes JFK's White House personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, as saying Kennedy and his brother, Robert, tried to figure out how to keep Johnson off the ticket but finally gave up because Johnson and Hoover 'had boxed them into a hole, or into a corner' with the reports of Kennedy's philandering.
The show says Hoover often used FBI vehicles for personal errands and even had agents decorate his home. A horse racing enthusiast, he wrote of trips to various tracks around the country as official business and enjoyed few betting losses, thanks to the mob.
Costello is quoted as telling a Justice Department crime section chief after Hoover's death in 1972 that he fixed numerous horse races which the FBI chief had bet on.
'You'll never know how many races I had to fix for those lousy bets of his,' Costello is quoted as saying.