Ellis M. Zacharias

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Ellis Mark Zacharias, Sr.
Ellis M Zacharias.jpg
Captain Ellis M. Zacharias, Sr.
Born (1890-01-01)January 1, 1890
Jacksonville, Florida
Died June 27, 1961(1961-06-27) (aged 71)
West Springfield, New Hampshire
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery (38°52′45″N 77°04′08″W / 38.879074°N 77.069006°W / 38.879074; -77.069006)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Navy Seal.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1912–46
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Rear admiral
Commands held Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Legion of Merit (3)
Other work TV presenter, Behind Closed Doors

Ellis Mark Zacharias, Sr. (January 1, 1890 – June 27, 1961) was a Rear admiral and naval attaché to Japan, who served in World War I and World War II. After World War II, he was appointed as the deputy director of US Naval Intelligence, and post-retirement he narrated the 1958–59 NBC television docudrama series Behind Closed Doors.


From 1940 until 1942, Zacharias commanded the USS Salt Lake City (CA-25), a heavy cruiser that was part of the force that escorted Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle on the 1942 bombing raid over Japan.[1] During the war, he remained at the rank of captain.[2] He conducted radio psychological warfare against the Japanese high command.

Zacharias was born in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated in 1912 from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[1] Zacharias served his first cruise aboard the new battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33), which escorted U.S. President William Howard Taft to Panama to inspect the Panama Canal before water was turned into it. From 1913 to 1915, Zacharias served aboard the USS Virginia (BB-13). He was then stationed for a time on the survey ship USS Hannibal.[3] During World War I, he served as a line officer aboard the USS Pittsburgh (ACR-4).[1]

His television series, Behind Closed Doors, is a unique 26-episode program set during the Cold War hosted by and occasionally starring Bruce Gordon in the role of Commander Matson. The series focuses on how the former Soviet Union stole American missile secrets and proposes steps to prevent further espionage. Behind Closed Doors is based on Zacharias files in naval intelligence and his war-time experiences. He offers comments at the conclusion of each segment.[4] Before he appeared on Behind Closed Doors, Zacharias had also narrated a radio series entitled Secret Missions.[1] The titles of both programs were taken from books that he had written.[5][6]

Zacharias retired from the US Navy in 1946 after 34 years of service as the result of a heart seizure. He died at his home in West Springfield, New Hampshire, at the age of 71 of complications from another heart seizure. He was interred on July 3, 1961, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. His wife, the former Clara Miller (born February 27, 1897), was interred with him upon her death on November 7, 1992. At the time of her death, she was living in Falls Church, Virginia.[7] Their two sons, Ellis M. Zacharias, Jr. and Jerrold M. Zacharias, were both Naval Academy graduates. Ellis (February 1, 1926 – April 17, 2006), a businessman,[8] inventor,[9] and avid amateur photographer, died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of eighty.[10] Jerrold (born December 17, 1927), also a career navy man, received the Navy Cross as a pilot in Vietnam.[11][12] After retiring from active service in 1978 he continued as a naval consultant until 1992.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Ellis M. Zacharias". arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Books: Fifteen Guns". time.com. December 23, 1946. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Our Captain". usslcca25.com. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  4. ^ Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, 1946–Present, New York: Ballantine Press, 1992, p. 79
  5. ^ "Secret Missions; The Story of an Intelligence Officer". abaa.org/books. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Behind Closed Doors: The Secret History of the Cold War". barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Tulsa Library plans series on Travels with Tulsans". Tulsa World (Tulsa, Oklahoma). January 4, 1989. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Ellis M Zacharias Jr Inventor". PatentBuddy. May 8, 1992. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  10. ^ "ZACHARIAS – Ellis M Jr". Tulsa World (Tulsa, Oklahoma). April 20, 2006. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  11. ^ "CAPT JERROLD M. ZACHARIAS, USN". Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Inc. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Jerrold M. Zacharias, Captain, USN (Ret.)". The Golden Eagles Roost. The Golden Eagles. Retrieved November 12, 2013.