“My sister and I used to take the FBI tour once a year. It was a big deal in D.C., and we never missed it. One year, 1961, when I was eight, I was on the tour and my father [FBI agent George William Gunn, who worked as J. Edgar Hoover‘s ghostwriter] asked me if I’d like to meet Vivian Vance. According to Helen Gandy, Hoover’s secretary, Vance was visiting Hoover, and she said she’d be happy to meet us. I was a rabid I Love Lucy fan and was beside myself with excitement. ‘Ethel Mertz is here?’ I screamed. My father smiled and took my sister and me into Hoover’s office, where I shook Vivian Vance’s hand and chatted with her. I was thrilled.
Years later, I was reminiscing with my sister about the meeting and suddenly I realized something. ‘Does it seem odd to you,’ I asked her, ‘that when we met Vivian Vance in Hoover’s office, Hoover wasn’t there?’ I’ve since looked at photos of both Hoover and Vivian Vance from that period of time, and the similarities are rather eerie… I’ve called some Vivian Vance experts, including Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg, who wrote Meet the Mertzes: The Life Stories of I Love Lucy’s Other Couple; none of them knew of any meeting between Vance and Hoover. I’m not saying at the age of eight I definitely met J. Edgar Hoover at his office in the FBI wearing a dress and makeup, only that I strongly suspect it. My mother says I’m crazy, but she wasn’t there.”
–Project Runway mentor and chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne Inc. Tim Gunn in his latest bestselling book, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work.