five_fingers_mv_ff five_fingers_bk_iwc five_fingers_bk_oc
Full Name: Victor Sebastian
Nationality: American
Organization: American Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Unknown
Time Span: 1950 - 1962


Victor Sebastian, codenamed Five Fingers, is an agent with American Counter-Espionage.

"This is the dossier of an American; his name, Victor Sebastian. Only one out of every three people in his line of work survives. His occupation - counter-espionage for the government of the United States. I know these fact because I am Victor Sebastian. My codename is 'Five Fingers'."

With this introduction comes the Morse code for "5FINGERS" ( '..... ..-. .. -. --. . .-. ...' for those of you curious).

At the time of its premiere, a synopsis blurb released said that Sebastian was "America's top counter-intelligence agent, master of espionage and split-second action. In the shadowy world of international intrigue, he stalks and is stalked by his country's enemies in chilling undercover battles of a grim Cold War."

One of the episodes starts with Sebastian entering late at night into his office located at Room 2318 of an unspecified building, the door to those offices showing the company name of "Wembley and Sebastian, Ltd" with offices in Paris, New York, and London. As Sebastian, dressed in top coat with hat and gloves, turns on the light and sits at his desk, he tells us, "To the entertainment world on two continents, I am Victor Sebastian, theatrical agent. These are my offices. But the business I am about to conduct can never appear on the company's books. Not if I am about to survive. Because, as it happens, I am also another kind of agent; counter-espionage. My employer - the Unites States government. Although sometimes I pose as its enemy. My codename - 'Five Fingers'."

Sebastian's activities takes him all around Europe where his reputation as a theatrical booking agent is well established, making him at home in clubs and restaurants in all major cities. As the explanation above mentions, sometimes his real job is to ferret out intelligence from others while on occasion he appears to be a double agent in order to infiltrate an enemy operation.

When we first meet him he has but on person who knows his true occupation, that being his contact/handler known to us only as Robertson.

We also are able to meet the young gorgeous fashion model and would-be singing star, Simone Genet, who is clearly enamored with Sebastian but is unaware of his true vocation. She is, though, smart enough to start realizing there is more to Sebastian than he lets on.


Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1950
Last Appearance:1962

As I mention in the comments to the Television section, the adventures of Victor Sebastian were "loosely" (and I really mean loose) based on a James Mason film of the same name.

That movie was loosely based on a book listed below called Operation Cicero, albeit closer to the book than then tv show was to the movie. The only things I can see that the tv show took from the movie was it was based on espionage and it had a neat and unusual name.

The book is mentioned below not because it has the least bit to do with Victor Sebastian but because it was the loose basis for the movie which was the loose basis for the television show.

The second book is mentioned here only because a couple of years after the television show came out, the real agent Cicero released his own autobiography which from what I was told had some significant changes to the one put out by his handler.

1 Operation Cicero Operation Cicero
Written by Ludwig Carl Moyzisch
Copyright: 1950

Story about Elyesa Bazna, hired as a valet by the British ambassador to Turkey. Bazna. codenamed Cicero, was really a German secret agent who photographed a good number of top secret documents the ambassador had custody of and passed them on to his handler. The author was that handler.

2 I Was Cicero I Was Cicero
Written by Elyesa Bazna
Copyright: 1962

Autobiography about the time he worked as a valet for the British ambassador to Turkey and stole top-secret documents for German Intelligence.


Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1952
Last Appearance:1952

As I mention in comments both above and below here, the James Mason movie shown below was very loosely based on the book Operation Cicero. Why the writer or producer threw out what I thought was a cool codename is unknown but the one they replaced it with, "5 Fingers" is cool all on its own for its uniqueness.

Other than the name, there is little to connect the movie and the television series.

1 5 Fingers 5 Fingers
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Writers: Michael Wilson, L. C. Moyzisch
Actors: James Mason as Ulysses Diello, Danielle Darrieux as Countess Anna Staviska, Michael Rennie as Colin Travers
Released: 1952

During the Second World War, a man working for the German Intelligence is hired as a valet to the British Ambassador in Ankara, Turkey, selling top-secret information to the Germans while also trying to woo a Polish Countess who was a refugee.


Number of Episodes:16
First Appearance:1959
Last Appearance:1960

David (Al) HedisonVictor Sebastian [ 1 ]
Luciana PaluzziSimone Genet [ 1 ]
Paul BurkeRobertson [ 1 ]

In 1952, a movie starring the terrific James Mason came out based on a non-fiction book names Operation Cicero. The film, though fictionalized and changed in numerous ways, still told the tale of a man working for German Intelligence during World War II who got a job, under a false identity of course, as the valet for the British ambassador to Turkey. In that capacity he was able to get hold of a good amount of highly classified intelligence and pass it back to his handler. While in the book the agent's codename was Cicero, in the movie it was 'Five Fingers".

Jump ahead 7 years and that movie, or at least the interesting codename of the agent, was used as the basis for a one-hour television drama about a secret agent. And there the similarity ends.

In the television show, the agent was American, not German. He was countering Communist agents, not Allied ones. He operated in the shadowy period of the Cold War, not the shadow period of a real War.

And he was not a subservient acting valet trying to operate beneath his British employer's notice but was instead a well-known and popular talent agent.

He still did have the cool and unusual codename which we got to see and hear spelled out in Morse Code at the beginning of each episode.

David Hedison was the lead actor. The pilot (of sorts) had him billed as Al Hedison (his real name was Albert David Hedison) but the network pushed to have the name changed so he went with his middle name and we knew him as that for the rest of his impressive career.

The show shot 16 episodes but the last two were not aired by the network and only available in limited syndication.

[Note: the synopses are mine but are based on intel from the really enjoyable Five Fingers.

1 Station Break
Episode 1-01, first aired 10/03/1959
Director: Andrew McCullough
Writer: Richard Berg

The Communists are using a radio station to send coded messages to its operatives. Victor Sebastian is determined to find a way to break that code. Along the way he meets the lovely Simone Genet

2 Dossier
Episode 1-02, first aired 10/10/1959
Director: Montgomery Pittman
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

A murdered man is found in Switzerland holding a fragment of a document providing a list of American agents and their covers. One of the those listed is Five Fingers. Victor Sebastian is brought in to get the rest of the list to keep his, and his fellow agents safe.

3 The Moment of Truth
Episode 1-03, first aired 10/17/1959
Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: Jerry Devine

Victor Sebastian and Simone are in Mexico City where she has a singing engagement. Five Fingers is given the mission of finding an ex-bull fighter who has a list of former Trotsky supporters. He is not the only one after it.

4 The Unknown Town
Episode 1-04, first aired 10/24/1959
Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: Whitfield Cook

Victor Sebastian is told by his Communist contact that he is to take a plane to America and visit a town in South Carolina to spy on a missile plant. He is drugged and ends up in a replica village the Soviets have built for training purposes.

5 The Men with Triangle Heads
Episode 1-05, first aired 10/31/1959
Director: Andrew McCullough
Writers: Andrew McCullough, William Templeton

Five Fingers must find a way to stop the Communists from getting their hands on top-secret NATO defense plans.

6 The Assassin
Episode 1-06, first aired 11/07/1959
Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: -

A European leader has been threatened with assassination. Since his death could result in a war, Victor Sebastian, aka Five Fingers, is ordered to be his bodyguard to learn who the would-be assailant is.

7 The Man Who Got Away
Episode 1-07, first aired 11/14/1959
Director: Montgomery Pittman
Writer: David Karp

A top-level American scientist is planning on defecting to Moscow and it falls to Victor Sebastian to intercept him.

8 The Emerald Curtain
Episode 1-08, first aired 11/21/1959
Director: Allen Reisner
Writer: Jerry Devine

Five Fingers, aka Victor Sebastian, is determined to find a way to smuggle a Russian novelist to a new life in Ireland. Unfortunately, Soviet agents are very much against the idea.

9 The Temple of the Swinging Doll
Episode 1-09, first aired 11/28/1959
Director: Paul Wendkos
Writer: Jerry Devine

[plot unknown]

10 The Final Dream
Episode 1-10, first aired 12/05/1959
Director: Allen Reisner
Writer: Jerry Devine

[plot unknown]

11 Thin Ice
Episode 1-11, first aired 12/19/1959
Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: Philip MacDonald

[plot unknown]

12 Operation Ramrod
Episode 1-12, first aired 12/26/1959
Director: Montgomery Pittman
Writers: William E. Barrett, William O'Farrell

[plot unknown]

13 The Judas Goat
Episode 1-13, first aired 01/02/1960
Director: Gerald Mayer
Writer: Jerry Devine

[plot unknown]

14 The Search for Edward Stoyan
Episode 1-14, first aired 01/09/1960
Director: Allen Reisner
Writers: Harry Brown, Robert C. Dennis

[plot unknown]

15 A Shot in the Dark
Episode 1-15, first aired --
Director: David Greene
Writer: Michael Pertwee

[plot unknown]

16 Counterfeit
Episode 1-16, first aired --
Director: Charles R. Rondeau
Writers: Michael Pertwee, Leslie Stevens

[plot unknown]


Number of Books:1
First Appearance:2015
Last Appearance:2015

1 Five Fingers Five Fingers
Written by Diane Kachmar
Copyright: 2015

An in-depth look at the 16-episode series about Victor Sebastian, starring David Hedison, written by a woman who was his personal assistant for some time. Discusses at length the actors and the episodes.
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I was a huge fan of David Hedison from his Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea back when I was a whole lot younger. He was the epitome of calm and control no matter how odd the adversaries were; mermen, aliens, giant monsters, and so on. He seemed virtually unflappable. Then years later I was reminded how cool he was as Felix Leiter in two of my favorite James Bond movies.

When I first heard of this series, I was confused, to say the least. A spy series with the name of Five Fingers? I could easily see a petty crime program, as in "five finger discount" as shoplifting is sometimes called. But spy adventures? Well, yup!


My Grade: B


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