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 languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes117
Executive producerFrederick W. Ziv
ProducersLeon Benson
Julius J. Epstein
Jack Herzberg
Henry S. Kesler
Lew Landers
Herbert L. Strock
Maurice Unger
CinematographyMonroe P. Askins
Curt Fetters
Robert Hoffman
EditorsAce Clark
Charles Craft
John B. Woelz
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companyZiv 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.[citation needed]

Main cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]


Season 1 (1953–54)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Secret Call: Part 1"Eddie DavisDonn MullallyOctober 4, 1953 (1953-10-04)
22"Bess: Part 2"Eddie DavisUnknownOctober 11, 1953 (1953-10-11)
33"Dope Photographic"Eddie DavisDonn MullallyOctober 18, 1953 (1953-10-18)
44"Baited Trap"Lew LandersFrank BurtOctober 25, 1953 (1953-10-25)
55"Railroad Strike Attempt"Eddie DavisGene LevittNovember 1, 1953 (1953-11-01)
66"Campus Story"Lew LandersRobert Yale LibottNovember 8, 1953 (1953-11-08)
77"Army Infiltration"Leslie GoodwinsFrank BurtNovember 15, 1953 (1953-11-15)
88"The Spy"Eddie DavisDonn MullallyNovember 22, 1953 (1953-11-22)
99"Jet Engine"Lew LandersStuart Jerome1953 (1953)
1010"Helping Hand"Eddie DavisGene Levitt1953 (1953)
1111"Parcels for Poland"Leslie GoodwinsFrank Burt1953 (1953)
1212"Captured Congressman"Eddie DavisDon Brinkley & Stuart Jerome1953 (1953)
1313"Purloined Printing Press"Eddie DavisDonn Mullally1953 (1953)
1414"The Wife"Eddie DavisDonn Mullally1954 (1954)
1515"Civil Defense"Leslie GoodwinsGene Levitt1954 (1954)
1616"Communist Cop"Eugene FordeFrank Burt1954 (1954)
1717"Defense Plant Security"Eddie DavisFrank Burt1954 (1954)
1818"Gun Running"Leslie GoodwinsGene Levitt1954 (1954)
1919"Passports"Herbert StrockGene Levitt1954 (1954)
2020"Map of the City"Lambert HillyerJack Rock1954 (1954)
2121"Caviar"Lambert HillyerGene Levitt1954 (1954)
2222"The Kid"Herbert StrockArthur Fitz-Richard1954 (1954)
2323"Youth Movement"Lambert HillyerDonn Mullally1954 (1954)
2424"Infra Red Film"Eddie DavisStuart Jerome and Curt Siodmak1954 (1954)
2525"The Editor"Lewis AllenStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
2626"Confused Comrade"Leigh JasonJack Rock1954 (1954)
2727"Communication Disruptions"Herbert StrockMaurice Stoller1954 (1954)
2828"Phantom Labor Leader"Henry S. KeslerRobert Libott1954 (1954)
2929"Progressive"Leigh JasonGene Levitt1954 (1954)
3030"Old Man"Herbert StrockArthur Fitz-Richard1954 (1954)
3131"Birthday"Tim WhelanJack Rock1954 (1954)
3232"Cell Leader"Herbert StrockStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
3333"Dry Run"Henry S. KeslerArthur E. Orloff1954 (1954)
3434"Comrade Wants Out"Herbert StrockBob Mitchell1954 (1954)
3535"Depression"Lambert HillyerJack Rock1954 (1954)
3636"The Boss"Eddie DavisStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
3737"Love Story"Leon BensonArthur Fitz-Richard1954 (1954)
3838"Unexpected Trip"Tim WhelanTim Whelan1954 (1954)
3939"Strategic Material"Herbert StrockJack Rock1954 (1954)

Season 2 (1954–55)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
401"Counterfeit"Lew LandersJack Rock1954 (1954)
412"Martyr"Eddie DavisDonn Mullally1954 (1954)
423"Close Factory"Leigh JasonStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
434"Relatives"Eddie DavisEllis Marcus1954 (1954)
445"Homing Station"Leon BensonArthur Fitz-Richard1954 (1954)
456"Infiltration"Lew LandersJack Rock1954 (1954)
467"Assassination Plot"Eddie DavisStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
478"The Bomb"Eddie DavisFrederick Stephani1954 (1954)
489"Atomic"Herbert StrockLeonard Heideman1954 (1954)
4910"Day Camp"Leon BensonRobert Libott1954 (1954)
5011"The Guest"Henry S. KeslerArthur Fitz-Richard1954 (1954)
5112"Narcotics"Henry S. KeslerStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
5213"Fifth Amendment"Herbert StrockDonn Mullally1954 (1954)
5314"Rest Home"Eddie DavisJack Rock1954 (1954)
5415"Deportation"Leon BensonRobert Libott1954 (1954)
5516"The Switch"Henry S. KeslerRik Vollaerts1954 (1954)
5617"Servicemen"Leon BensonLeonard Heideman1954 (1954)
5718"Asylum"Herbert StrockRichard G. Taylor1954 (1954)
5819"Moving"Leon Benson and Herbert StrockArthur Fitz-Richard and Stuart Jerome1954 (1954)
5920"Minority Control"Herbert StrockJack Rock1954 (1954)
6021"Camera"Leon BensonEllis Marcus1954 (1954)
6122"Comic Strip"Herbert StrockStuart Jerome1954 (1954)
6223"Goon Squad"Henry S. KeslerDonn Mullally1954 (1954)
6324"Mailing List"Leon BensonArthur Fitz-Richard1954 (1954)
6425"Convicts"Lew LandersRik Vollaerts1954 (1954)
6526"Investments"Henry S. KeslerLeonard Heideman1954 (1954)
6627"The Son"Herbert StrockArthur Fitz-Richard1955 (1955)
6728"Vandalism"Henry S. KeslerJack Rock1955 (1955)
6829"Revolt"Henry S. KeslerEllis Marcus1955 (1955)
6930"Brainwashed"Herbert StrockDonn Mullally1955 (1955)
7031"Boss"Henry S. KeslerStuart Jerome1955 (1955)
7132"Mr. and Mrs. Club"Lambert HillyerRichard G. Taylor1955 (1955)
7233"Oilfield"Herbert StrockTBD1955 (1955)
7334"Lost Report"Herbert StrockArthur Fitz-Richard1955 (1955)
7435"Church"Henry S. KeslerJack Rock1955 (1955)
7536"Commie Dies"Henry S. KeslerEllis Marcus1955 (1955)
7637"Child Commie"Henry S. KeslerLeonard Heideman1955 (1955)
7738"Comrade Eva"Herbert StrockStuart Jerome1955 (1955)
7839"Christmas Charity Bracket"TBDTBD1955 (1955)

Season 3 (1955–56)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
791"Housebreaking"Henry S. KeslerStuart Jerome1955 (1955)
802"Attack Area"Henry S. KeslerJack Rock1955 (1955)
813"Rendezvous"Eddie DavisEllis Marcus1955 (1955)
824"Sacrificed"Leon BensonDonn Mullally1955 (1955)
835"Eva Sick"Eddie DavisStuart Jerome1955 (1955)
846"Project Athlete"Henry S. KeslerLeonard Heideman1955 (1955)
857"Lawyer"Jack HerzbergEllis Marcus1955 (1955)
868"Newsreel"Henry S. KeslerRik Vollaerts1955 (1955)
879"Ex G.I."Jack HerzbergStuart Jerome1955 (1955)
8810"Common Denominator"Lambert HillyerDonn Mullally1955 (1955)
8911"Stolen Passport"Eddie DavisLeonard Heideman1955 (1955)
9012"Exchange Student"Leslie GoodwinsJack Rock1955 (1955)
9113"Prisoner"Lambert HillyerRik Vollaerts1955 (1955)
9214"Instruction Camp"Herbert StrockHerbert Strock1955 (1955)
9315"Second Courier"Herbert StrockStuart Jerome1955 (1955)
9416"Phony Brother"Herbert StrockLeonard Berg1955 (1955)
9517"Trapped"Jack HerzbergEllis Marcus1955 (1955)
9618"Mother-in-Law"Henry S. KeslerLeonard Heideman1955 (1955)
9719"Central American Assignment"Henry S. KeslerEllis Marcus1955 (1955)

In popular culture[edit]

The show was a favorite of Lee Harvey Oswald, according to his brother.[4]

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, Martin Jr. (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. ^ Geerhart, Bill (January 23, 2011). "The Best of 'I Led Three Lives'". CONELRAD Adjacent. Retrieved November 27, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]