Tales of the Bizarre: The Day J. Edgar Hoover Gave Shirley Temple a Tear Gas Pen
J. Edgar Hoover founded the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ran it for many years. During his time, he was hell-bent on keeping America safe, including high-profile celebrities who were often the recipients of hate, decades before social media. In the ’30s and ’40s, child star Shirley Temple was perhaps one of the most beloved American treasures, best known for her adorable ringlets, beautiful voice, and acting chops. Unfortunately, with high levels of fame also come threats and Temple was no exception.
Over the years, she received death threats, kidnapping threats, and extortion threats from disgruntled fans. Of course, she had the best security she could get but Hoover also felt that it was his obligation to protect the young star. Temple was even reportedly seduced by a Hollywood producer when she was only 12 years old but luckily got away from him. She didn’t want to make these threats known to the public for fear of copycats. However, the FBI was called privately on several occasions and Hoover and Temple actually became friends.
When Temple was about 20 years old, Hoover decided to give her a gift that could protect her if necessary. On January 20, 1949, he gifted her a fountain pen with a secret. It would emit tear gas if anyone decided to try to harm her again. A few years later, when Temple was dating Charles Alden Black, she asked Hoover to run a thorough background check on him. Apparently, it came up clean because the two wed on December 26, 1950. This was her second marriage and the two stayed together until his death in 2005.
It doesn’t sound like Temple ever used the pen, or the interaction was not made public but the whole story is still pretty interesting! What do you think? Let us know in the comments!