I Led 3 Lives

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I Led 3 Lives
I Led 3 Lives opening title.png
Opening title screen
Also known asI Led Three Lives
Written byLee Berg
Frank Burt
Stuart Jerome
Norman Jolley
Gene Roddenberry
Directed byEddie Davis
Leslie Goodwins
Jack Herzberg
Henry S. Kesler
Herbert L. Strock
StarringRichard Carlson
Narrated byRichard Carlson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes117
Executive producer(s)Frederick W. Ziv
Producer(s)Leon Benson
Julius J. Epstein
Jack Herzberg
Henry S. Kesler
Lew Landers
Herbert L. Strock
Maurice Unger
CinematographyMonroe P. Askins
Curt Fetters
Robert Hoffman
Editor(s)Ace Clark
Charles Craft
John B. Woelz
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Ziv Television Programs
DistributorZiv Television Programs
MGM Television
Peter Rodgers Organization
Original networkSyndication
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseOctober 1, 1953 (1953-10-01) –
January 1, 1956 (1956-01-01)

I Led 3 Lives (also known as I Led Three Lives) is an American drama series syndicated by Ziv Television Programs from October 1, 1953, to January 1, 1956. The series stars Richard Carlson. The show was a companion piece of sorts to the radio drama I Was a Communist for the FBI, which dealt with a similar subject and was also syndicated by Ziv from 1952 to 1954.


The series was loosely based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston advertising executive who infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI in the 1940s and wrote a bestselling book on the topic, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, 'Communist', Counterspy (1952). The part of Philbrick was played by Richard Carlson. The "three lives" in the title are Philbrick's outward life as a white-collar worker, his secret life as a Communist agent, and his even more secret life as an FBI operative helping to foil Communist plots.[1]

I Led 3 Lives lasted 117 episodes. Philbrick served as a technical consultant,[2]:37 with Carlson narrating each episode.[2]:86 The episodes often had very little to do with the actual events of Philbrick's life as related in his book—Philbrick is credited with only 5 of the 117 screenplays. Screenplays gradually became more and more outlandish, featuring, for example, such supposed "Communist plots" as the conversion of household vacuum cleaners (1942-1954 Electrolux) into tactical missile launchers with which the Communists intended to destroy America's Nike anti-aircraft defensive missiles, and the manufacturing of untraceable "ghost guns" (unserialized Colt M1911) with which the Communists intended to assassinate their political enemies.

The series was honored by the Freedoms Foundation as the best television program of 1955,[3] and was nominated for Best Mystery in the Primetime Emmy Awards of 1954 and 1955.[4]

Main cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The show was a favorite of Lee Harvey Oswald, according to his brother.[5]

The title of the TV series I Had Three Wives, which aired briefly in 1985, is a pun on the name of the original; it was an otherwise unrelated comedy-drama about a private detective's three ex-wives, who cooperate on cases.


  1. ^ "Herbert Philbrick, 78, F.B.I. Spy Who Inspired TV Series in the 50s". The New York Times. August 18, 1993. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Grams Jr., Martin (2007). I Led 3 Lives: The True Story of Herbert A. Philbrick's Television Program (PDF). BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1593930929 – via martingrams.biz.
  3. ^ "Freedom Awards Given To Host Of Americans". Sandusky Register. Sandusky, Ohio. February 22, 1956. p. 23. Retrieved November 27, 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Awards for I Led 3 Lives on IMDb
  5. ^ Geerhart, Bill (January 23, 2011). "The Best of 'I Led Three Lives'". CONELRAD Adjacent. Retrieved November 27, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]