Hoover hated halitosis (be it oral or, uh, 'mental')
SUMMARY: The nation's former FBI director was not above name-calling or cracking wise about halitosis.
Posted: April 12, 2012
It's funny, the kinds of facts you find with just a little digging. Apparently they're not very far below the surface. For instance, did you know that a famous FBI director railed against halitosis, though not the type you might expect? He was the subject of a recent biopic directed by Clint Eastwood: J. Edgar.
That's right - the first director of the FBI had a big problem with halitosis, though what he called the "mental" sort.
Capital New York recently covered this topic in an article about the New York Times' former reporter Tom Wicker. It seems that the journalist and longtime political columnist did not get on Hoover's good side after publishing an article critical of the Bureau. In documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, J. Edgar compared the man's thoughts to bad breath.
In a memo posted on his personal stationery, Hoover had this to say of Wicker, written in ink: "This jerk has mental halitosis. -H."
Clearly, the two men weren't chums. In fact, Wicker - who passed away just this past November - often irritated powerful, blackmailing American politicians. See Richard Nixon, who penciled Wicker into his infamous "Enemies List" (and who, like Hoover, was fond of secretly recording people).
According to Curt Gentry's biography of the first FBI director - titled J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets - the dislike and suspicion were mutual. Wicker reportedly described Hoover as unfireable, saying that no president would dare "tell the old boy to shut up."
Or tell him he had bad breath, one imagines.
Still, evidently everyone could agree that halitosis was worth avoiding. And today, we have specialty breath fresheners for that. Between alcohol-free mouthwashes, oxygenating toothpastes, mouth-wetting lozenges, specialty tongue scrapers and periodontitis-fighting rinses, we now have more tools than ever before with which to fight the onslaught of bad breath.
Americans can't stand oral odor. The proof? According to Gentry, when Hoover (and pretty much everyone else) pulled his support for noted scumbag Joseph McCarthy, the black-listing, hate-spitting senator quickly went downhill. People avoided him like the plague.
And not just for his invective. In the last years of McCarthy's life, he was known to suffer from raging halitosis. And not just the mental kind.