G-Man: The Rise & Fall of Melvin Purvis

General - South Carolina History

Melvin Horace Purvis. To many people today, the name means nothing. But it was not so long ago that Purvis was a household name, and over 260,000 boys and girls were digging through boxes of Post Toasties breakfast cereal to get their very own decoder rings and Junior G-Man badges. Purvis, the Timmonsville native with the unassuming name, skyrocketed to such fame in the 1930s as the leader of the FBI team that took down some of the biggest gangsters of his day, including John Dillinger, "Baby Face" Nelson and "Pretty Boy" Floyd. His death in 1960 from a gun shot to the head is still shrouded in mystery. Was it a suicide, as first reported? Was it an accidental shooting? Or was there something more sinister behind it?

Learn about the man behind the badge in a new "Carolina Stories" program, "G-MAN: The Rise and Fall of Melvin Purvis." Presenting "just the facts, ma'am," the documentary examines Purvis' life and sheds some light on his gruesome death. In the process, "G-MAN" explores the complicated relationship between Purvis and J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI and the man who some have said was responsible not only for Purvis' meteoric rise, but also his rapid descent back into obscurity. 

Honored as one of the ten South Carolina State Library most notable state documents of the year.

Closed captioning has been provided for this broadcast program.

Type
G-Man, Part 1 - Introduction | Carolina Stories
G-Man, Part 1 - Introduction | Carolina Stories

Video

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Prohibition drove liquor sales underground, and gangsters rose to power, one of which was the infamous Al Capone. While most people endured the grueling conditions of the...
G-Man, Part 2 - Early Life | Carolina Stories
G-Man, Part 2 - Early Life | Carolina Stories

Video

Melvin Purvis was born in 1903, the first son of a large family from Timmonsville. He studied law at the University of South Carolina without much enthusiasm, but graduated in 1925. When his love...
G-Man, Part 7 - Life After FBI | Carolina Stories
G-Man, Part 7 - Life After FBI | Carolina Stories

Video

Melvin Purvis smoothly moved on from the FBI, making endorsements for various everyday items, like safety razors, cars, and cereal. The Junior G-Man Club for children, and the Park Brothers’ Melvin...