It's been two years since silver-maned MPAA drum-beater Jack Valenti passed to the great ratings board in the sky, where he's been gleefully defending the afterlife's classification system. (Heaven: PG-13 for strong language, partial angel-nudity.)
But few know that Hollywood's greatest pre-Rahm Washington liaison was once pinkballed by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. In 1964, Valenti was the Don Draper of the Houston advertising world, whereupon he won an appointment as a top aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. There were whispers, though, that he had been engaged in suspiciously non-hetero activities; to wit, pulling a Franco in the White House pool. The Washington Post reports:
[I]n October 1964, a man whose name has been redacted from the records called an FBI official in New York. The caller encouraged the FBI to investigate Valenti "as a sex pervert," files show. "He based this request on the fact that he had read in the newspapers that Valenti swims in the nude in the White House pool."
A month later, the bureau found out that the Republican Party had hired a retired FBI agent to look into rumors that Valenti was attracted to men. The agents then focused on Valenti's relationship with the photographer, whose connections with Valenti had enabled him to photograph Johnson two years earlier, the memo said.
Six days later, Hoover reported the allegations to the president. Johnson spoke to Hoover lieutenant Cartha D. DeLoach and asserted that "Valenti was all right; however, his judgment was faulty inasmuch as he felt Jenkins had been all right," files show. DeLoach advised Johnson to have Valenti submit a sworn affidavit regarding his association with "this homosexual." Johnson demurred, saying Valenti had no need to defend himself.
"The President indicated that if I were to ask him if 'Lady Bird' were virtuous he would feel it would be unnecessary to reply, inasmuch as he knew 'Lady Bird' was virtuous," DeLoach wrote in a note."
Valenti was already one of Johnson's most trusted confidantes, standing just feet away as he took the oath of office aboard Air Force One after John F. Kennedy's assassination. LBJ may have used a Lady Bird trust analogy to protect his friend, but we suspect he really didn't care much one way or another. In those tumultuous days there was far more important business to attend to, and what a guy did naked in the White House pool with his longtime photographer companion was really nobody's business but his own.