"This is the fantastically true story of Herbert A. Philbrick, who for nine frightening years lived three lives...average citizen, high-level member of the Communist Party, and counterspy for the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Based on the best-selling book, I Led 3 Lives
kept TV viewers in nail-biting suspense for three seasons in syndication. It told the true story of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston ad executive who for nine years infiltrated the Communist Party at the request of the FBI. In 1949, the Justice Department called on Philbrick as a witness in the Smith Act trials of Communist Party leaders, breaking his cover and effectively ending his usefulness as an FBI operative. Afterwards he documented his experiences in a book, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, 'Communist', Counterspy
. In 1953, ZIV Television Programs turned the book into a series. Richard Carlson, a former MGM contract player, was cast as Philbrick. Carlson had a long career as a romantic lead, but he is nevertheless best remembered for his roles in classic sci-fi films such as It Came from Outer Space
(1953) and Creature from the Black Lagoon
(1954). Despite Philbrick's status as a consultant on the series, very few of the episodes had anything to do with the exploits related in his book, with the author only credited on 5 of the 117 screenplays produced. I Led 3 Lives
is a reminder of those heady days of Cold War paranoia, when a Communist spy could be waiting around every corner.
THE WIFE: Herbert's wife confronts him after finding Communist materials in their home.
CIVIL DEFENSE: Philbrick is chosen along with three other Party members to steal civil defense secrets from a U.S. military base.
GUN RUNNING: The Communists use Philbrick as a dupe to smuggle guns into Party members' hands.
PASSPORTS: Philbrick must intercept a forged passport before a Communist agent can use it to enter the United States.
Note: Due to the age and rarity of these shows, some picture anomalies exist.