I Led 3 Lives (also known as I Led Three Lives) is an American drama series which was 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. It 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.
I Led Three Lives lasted 117 episodes. Philbrick narrated each episode and served as a technical consultant — and all scripts were approved by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Nonetheless, the episodes often had very little to do with the actual events of Philbrick’s life, with plotlines taking Philbrick on journeys to Europe and South America. They gradually became more and more outlandish, featuring such supposed “Communist plots” as an attempt to convert vacuum cleaners into bomb launchers.
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 foil Communist plots.
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’s an otherwise unrelated comedy-drama about a private detective’s three ex-wives who cooperate on cases.
- Richard Carlson – Herbert Philbrick
- Virginia Stefan – Eva Philbrick
- Patricia Morrow – Constance Philbrick
- Charles Maxwell – Special Agent Joe Carney
- William Hudson – Special Agent Mike Andrews
- John Beradino – Special Agent Steve Daniels
- John Zaremba – Special Agent Jerry Dressler
- Ed Hinton – Special Agent Henderson
- Vivi Janiss as Comrade Elaine in “Gun Running” and Comrade Endora in “Counterfeit”
- Eve McVeagh as Miss Cutler in “Commie Dies”
- Ewing Mitchell as Mr. Collins in “Defense Plant Security”
- Victor Rodman as Comrade Arthur in “Commie Dies”