Herbert Philbrick was a young professional and pacifist in 1939 Boston. He joined an anti-war group and quickly found himself caught up in the secret world of underground communist activity... See full summary »




3   2   1  
1956   1955   1954   1953   Unknown  
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »


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Complete series cast summary:
 Herbert A. Philbrick (115 episodes, 1953-1956)
 Special Agent Jerry Dressler (67 episodes, 1953-1956)


Herbert Philbrick was a young professional and pacifist in 1939 Boston. He joined an anti-war group and quickly found himself caught up in the secret world of underground communist activity. He agreed to spy on the Communists for the FBI, and spent the next 9 years of his life as a Communist, FBI spy, and Communist counter-spy, since they had asked him to follow other comrades to test their loyalty. Hence the 3 lives; and his family, co-workers, and church never knew. This TV show is based on the TRUE story of how Philbrick (played ably by Richard Carlson) could never relax, but had to sneak to secret cell meetings and meet FBI agents in clandestine places to make info drops, never knowing when he might be found out, and if he would live to see the next rendezvous. Written by J Barlow <jonahsdive@gmail>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

spy | communism | number in title | See All (3) »


He lived as a Communist...But Reported to the F.B.I. See more »







Release Date:

1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Led Three Lives  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to the PBS special _"Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" (1992) (mini)_, this was Lee Harvey Oswald's favorite TV show. See more »


Featured in Frontline: Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Campy? Maybe not.
9 October 2006 | by (Vancouver, Canada) – See all my reviews

I watched this show at first out of curiosity and I laughed just as many of my generation probably have . . .or will. Then I started researching that era and now I know they were deadly serious when they made that series! This was the sort of thing that Americans were truly fearful of, a Communist takeover. This was just as serious in the 50's as a Chinese invasion was in the late 1930's. Okay so maybe they dramatised things but they did that in "Dragnet" too, right? This was American propaganda made to make Mr and Mrs. Average American believe that Commies were around every conner trying to subvert the mentality of Post (Korean) War America. This could have been what led to people building fallout shelters instead of swimming pools and schools teaching kids to "duck and cover".

Okay, so maybe I got a little heavy handed in that last paragraph but watching the adventures of Mr. Philbrick led me to wonder just how much of it was Hollywood and how much was real? A certain Mr. Kruschev did promise "We will bury you without firing a shot!" so I really began to wonder and started watching the episodes with a less cynical eye. The one about vacuum cleaners that were really missile launchers smacked of the gadgetry that proliferated the James Bond movies of the 1960's but then, where did they get that idea? The one about taking over an American newsreel company and making propaganda movies seems unreal too but then, remember wasn't the US Government doing the same thing at the same time too?

Today watching "I Led Three Lives" gives me a chill. Everything they were talking about might really have happened. Perhaps all that paranoia was not unfounded. Mr. Herbert Philbrick, wherever you are, thank you.

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