Behind Closed Doors

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Behind Closed Doors is an American dramatic anthology series set during the Cold War hosted by and occasionally starring Bruce Gordon in the role of Commander Matson. The series, which aired on NBC from October 2, 1958, to April 9, 1959, focuses, among other themes, on how the former Soviet Union stole American missile secrets and proposes steps to prevent further espionage. Behind Closed Doors is based on the files and experiences of Rear Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias, who offers comments at the end of each segment.[1]

A Screen Gems production, Behind Closed Doors replaced the Jackie Cooper situation comedy, The People's Choice, followed the NBC quiz show Twenty-One, and preceded The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. Its competition was the Pat Boone Chevy Show on ABC and Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater western anthology series on CBS.[2]​ ​

Episode list

1. "The Cape Canaveral Story, October 2, 1958: Florida fisherman Wayne Hollister (played by Joe Maross) is approached by a Mr. Meyers (Jacques Aubuchon) who rents his boat for one day and demands to be taken to Cape Canaveral in Florida to observe the launch of a rocket. Also starring Virginia Christine as Julie, Peter Whitney as Edwin Getty, and Bruce Gordon as Matson.

2. "Flight To Freedom," October 9, 1958​: German rocket scientists seek to defect from the Soviet Union to the West.

3. "Double Jeopardy," October 16, 1958: A Russian language professor working for the British secret service poses as a custodian in the Soviet embassy in an effort to uncover the whereabouts of Soviet nuclear weapons. British and American intelligence agents learn that the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations played by Alexander Akimoff) is scheduled to arrive in London and to reveal the new tactics to his embassy there. The Allies then attempt to install a recording device in the embassy.

4. "Mig 9," October 23, 1958: A lieutenant in the Soviet Air Force defects to the West by flying the latest Mig fighter plane, starring Jim Bannon and Kenneth Tobey.

5. "Trouble in Test Cell No. 19," November 2, 1958: Sabotage is determined to have caused a new jet engine to explode on its final test, as American intelligence agents seek to find the culprit.
​ 6. "Man In the Moon," November 6, 1958, A lonely widow named Clara Keller (Judith Evelyn) falls prey to foreign agents. She joins a friendship club, unaware that the group is a communist front. Guest starring Denver Pyle.

7. "The Nike Story," November 13, 1958: Captain John Benson (John Doucette) investigates the murder of a fellow officer who had been trying to entrap an enemy agent on a missile base. Benson holds an open house at the base to capture the entire ring of spies. The plot further concerns the proposed establishment of a Nike Hercules missile site which draws the opposition of a citizens’ group that is soon infiltrated by enemy agents.

8. "It Was Learned On High Authority," November 27, 1958: Enemy agent Fred Lang (Robert Knapp) is ordered to place a bomb on a plane carrying a group of scientists to Cape Canaveral.

9. "The Enemy On the Flank," December 4, 1958: American intelligence learns that a Soviet submarine operating from a base in Albania plans to interfere with maneuvers of the United States Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Two agents are assigned to probe the situation. Guest stars include James Best as Webb, Francis De Sales, Myron Healey as Lister, and Olan Soule.

10. "A Cover of Art," December 11, 1958: Commander Matson enters the then Czechoslovakia in disguise as an art dealer with the hope of rescuing atomic scientist Andrew Fleming (Keith Richards). As he bails out of a crashing airplane, communists captured Fleming and hold him prisoner behind the Iron Curtain. As Fleming's trial approaches, Matson asks Czech resistance fighters for help. At the close of program Admiral Zacharias maintains that the Fleming case demonstrates that the United States will use its resources to free its captured citizens.​

11. "The Middle East Story," December 18, 1958: Israeli agent Jessica Tabor overhears a plot to assassinate King Hussein of Jordan and turns to secret agents James Foster (Richard Webb) and Harry Shaw (John Sutton) to relate the information to the Jordanians. The story takes place in Iraq, which is depicted as undergoing a revolution.
​ 12. "The Brioni Story," December 25, 1958: A plot is unveiled to murder Marshal Josip Broz Tito of the former Yugoslavia, who is placed under protective watch of General Raca. The only outsider allowed to see Tito is a sculptor, Sarah Fletcher.​

13."The Obelisk," January 1, 1959: A British atomic scientist steals important papers and attempts to locate a Soviet helicopter.
​ 14. "Message From Mardenburg" a.k.a. "The Germany Story," January 8, 1959​: Dr. Haas (Carl Esmond) heads a German fencing society as a front for his subversive plans.​

15. "The Alkaloid Angle," January 22, 1959: Communists smuggle hashish into Lebanon. After an American agent is killed, retired agent Robert Hatfield (Buff Elliot) is called upon to investigate. He learns that a traitor has joined the communists. Hashish is portrayed in the episode as the "drug of the assassin; a drug that turns a man into a mindless, murdering animal."

16. "Crypto 40," January 29, 1959: Scientist David Sparrow (William Bishop), the inventor of a code-breaking machine, is captured and held behind the Iron Curtain. Americans race to free Sparrow before he can be compelled to make a similar machine for the Soviets.​

17. "The Alaskan Story," February 5, 1959​: Captain Jim Rand (Brad Dexter) enters a penitentiary in Alaska to befriend a communist agent, with the expectation that if can help the man escape, he will lead Rand to other members of the ring. Don Haggerty guest stars as "Mitchell."

18. "The Quemoy Story," February 12, 1959​: Anna Sung (Roberta Haynes), an American agent on the Asian island of Macao is kidnapped by communists. Commander Ralph Bennett (Ralph Richards) and Mike Perrera, a local police detective (Paul Picerni), find a plan to capture the island of Quemoy off the coast of Communist China.​

19. "The Vicec Story," February 19, 1959: Imre Vicec photographs teachers and pupils in a communist training school in Bulgaria. Vicec is killed in an escape attempt, and American agent David J. Thatcher (Dean Harens) is ordered to locate the pictures.

20. "The Geneva Story," February 26, 1959​: American agent Nick Blake (Dennis Patrick) is ordered to learn why the Soviets hired an American assassin to kill one of their own officials as he attends a nuclear arms conference in Geneva, Switzerland.​

21. "The Meeting," March 5, 1959: American agent Ralph Drake (Ray Danton) goes to neutral Austria to meet with western agents from six Iron Curtain countries after it is revealed that the Soviets have named a new head of the secret police. Virginia Gregg guest stars as Zina.​

22. "Mightier Than the Sword," March 12, 1959: U.S. agent Douglas Kincaid (Simon Scott) joins the Communist Party and learns that Feodor Mashay (Robert Carricart), a former Kremlin official, wants to defect. The story opens in an apartment in San Francisco, California, where a communist cell meeting is underway, and Kincaid is arrested. Kincaid is sent to Yalta to assist in Mashay's defection.​

23. "The Gamble," March 19, 1959: Statesmen meet in Huế in the former South Vietnam to discuss how to block communist infiltration from North Vietnam. A prince and his wife defect after communists try to force him to denounce the West in a speech. Guest stars Jeff Richards and Carol Thurston. This episode aired six years before U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson unveiled in February 1965 the massive American buildup in South Vietnam, well before most Americans had much acquaintance with the former French Indochina.[3]

24. "Double Agent," March 26, 1959: A spy working for both the communists and the British is uncovered shipping arms to anti-communists behind the Iron Curtain.​

25. "The Antidote," April 2, 1959​: Dr. Paul Matley (John Lupton) invents an antidote for radiation. While at a night club with his wife Laura (Nan Leslie, are at a night club when Laura is poisoned by communist agents. He is ordered to turn over the antidote to save Laura's life. Also guest starring are Richard Bull and Lawrence Dobkin.

26. "Assignment Prague," April 9, 1959​: Soviet agents film an anti-American propaganda film at a studio in Warsaw, Poland. The head of the film project moves against American sympathizers in her ranks. Warren Stevens guest stars as John William Carpenter.[4]

Series writers: Robert Leslie Bellem, Charles Bennett, Martin Berkeley, Alan Caillou, Robert C. Dennis, Fenton Earnshaw, Arthur Fitz-Richard, Richard Grey, John Hawkins, Jacqueline Hazard, Paul Monash, Stanley Niss, Donn Mullally, Stanley H. Silverman, Herbert Abbott Spiro, Richard Tregaskis, Irving Wallace, Jon Manchip White.

Directors: John English, Samuel Gallu, Gerd Oswald, John Peyser, Boris Sagal, Mark Sandrich, Jr., Paul Wendkos.

References

  1. Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, 1946-Present, (New York: Ballantine Press, 1992), p. 79.
  2. Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York, 1997, television schedule in appendix.
  3. The War in Vietnam, 1965-1968: Americanizing the War. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Retrieved on December 18, 2019.
  4. Behind Closed Doors. ctva.biz. Retrieved on December 18, 2019.

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