Mark Felt, the man who helped bring down President Richard Nixon as the infamous “Deep Throat” for investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, died at his Santa Rosa home Thursday afternoon surrounded by family.
Felt was born in Twin Falls, Idaho on Aug. 17, 1913, the son of carpenter and building contractor Mark Earl Felt and his wife, the former Rose Dygert. He graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1931 and received his B.A. from the University of Idaho in 1935.
After graduation, Felt moved to Washington, D.C. and got his first taste of political life working in the office of Idaho Senator James P. Pope. In 1938, he married Audrey Robinson, a fellow Idahoan who also had moved to Washington, D.C. and whom he had known since they were both students at the University of Idaho.
In an early indication of both his ambition and propensity for hard work, Felt worked during the day and attended George Washington University Law School at night. He earned his law degree in 1940, and was admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia bar in 1941.
After graduation, Felt took a position at the Federal Trade Commission, but left after only a few months in search of a a more adventurous career.
In his memoir, “The FBI Pyramid” published in 1979, Felt said the FTC had asked him to investigate whether a toilet paper brand called “Red Cross” gave consumers the mistaken impression it was endorsed by the American Red Cross.
World War II was in full swing in January 1942 when Felt went to work for the FBI. He was immediately assigned to the Espionage Section, tracking down Nazi spies operating in the U.S. His investigations led to the arrest of two top-level spies and brought him to the attention of FBI top brass.
According to the Washington Post, it was during this period that Felt learned counter-intelligence tricks that became part of his relationship with the Post reporters: A flowerpot on Woodward’s balcony would indicate that the reporter required a meeting, while a clock face inked on the reporter’s daily New York Times would reveal the time Felt would be waiting in an underground parking garage.