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In the early 1950s, Chief William Parker obtained a powerful new enemy — FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover disliked how the TV show Dragnet had made the LAPD famous. He saw Parker as a loose-cannon — and a potential rival. FBI agents were ordered to monitor the chief closely. Washington was soon informed that Parker “was often drinking to excess and had the reputation of being obstinate and pugnacious when under the influence of alcohol.” Scrawled Hoover on the bottom of one such memo, 'I have no use for this fellow Parker and we should keep our guard up in all dealings with him. H.'

Click here for some of Hoover's confidential files on Parker — and on Parker's nemesis, the gangster Mickey Cohen.

While Parker was tangling with the FBI, Mickey Cohen was entangled with Candy Barr, the first in a long line of stripper paramours. Here's a portion of Candy Barr's act:

While Cohen and his crew watched Candy Barr and Beverly Hills, America was tuning into Dragnet. As the 1950s second-most popular show (after I Love Lucy), Dragnet redefined the image of the LAPD. As the decade progressed, the notoriously corrupt department of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, fell into the mists of history. Chief Parker's LAPD became the template for modern American policing." Dragnet became the inspiration for the dozens of cop shows that followed it:

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© 2009. John Buntin