Ellis Zacharias

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Ellis Mark Zacharias, Sr.

(Host of television docudrama series Behind Closed Doors)

Ellis M. Zacharias.jpg

Born January 1, 1890
Jacksonville, Florida
Died June 27, 1961 (aged 71)

West Springfield,
Sullivan County,
New Hampshire

Resting place:
Arlington National Cemetery

Spouse Clara Evans Miller Zacharias

Two sons:
Ellis Zacharias, Jr.
Jerrold Matthew Zacharias

Military Service
Service/branch United States Navy

(Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence)

Years of service 1912-1946
Rank Rear admiral
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Legion of Merit
(three times)

Ellis Mark Zacharias, Sr. (January 1, 1890 – June 27, 1961), was a rear admiral and naval attaché to Japan, who served in World War I and World War II. After the second war, he was appointed as the deputy director of the Office of Naval Intelligence. After his military retirement, he hosted the television docudrama series, Behind Closed Doors.


From 1940 until 1942, Zacharias commanded the heavy cruiser, the USS Salt Lake City, which was part of the force that escorted Lieutenant General James Doolittle on the 1942 bombing raid over Japan.[1] During the war, he remained at the rank of captain.[2] He conducted radio psychological warfare against the Japanese high command.[3]

Zacharias was born in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated in 1912 from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[1] Zacharias served his first cruise aboard the new battleship USS Arkansas, which escorted U.S. President William Howard Taft to Panama to inspect the Panama Canal before water was turned into it. From 1913 to 1915, Zacharias served aboard the USS Virginia. He was then stationed for a time on the survey ship USS Hannibal.[4] During World War I, he served as a line officer aboard the USS Pittsburgh.[1]

His television series, Behind Closed Doors, is a unique 26-episode program set during the Cold War hosted by and occasionally starring Bruce Gordon (1916-2011) in the role of Commander Matson. The series focuses on how the former Soviet Union stole American missile secrets and proposes steps to prevent further espionage. Behind Closed Doors is based on Zacharias files in naval intelligence and his war-time experiences. He offers comments at the conclusion of each segment.[5] Before he appeared on Behind Closed Doors, Zacharias had also narrated a radio series entitled Secret Missions.[1] The titles of both programs were taken from books that he had written.[6]

Zacharias retired from the U.S. Navy in 1946 after thirty-four years of service as the result of a heart seizure. He died at his home in West Springfield, New Hampshire, at the age of seventy-one of complications from another heart seizure. He was interred on July 3, 1961, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. His wife, the former Clara Evans Miller (1897-1992), is interred with him in Arlington. At the time of her death, she was living in Falls Church, Virginia. Their two sons, Ellis M. Zacharias, Jr. (1926-2006) and Jerrold Matthew Zacharias (1927-2020), were both Naval Academy graduates. Ellis, a businessman,[7] inventor,[8] and avid amateur photographer, died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of eighty.[9] Jerrold Matthew Zacharias (1927-2020),[10] also a career Navy man, received the Navy Cross as a pilot in Vietnam.[11][12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ellis M. Zacharias. arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved on October 7, 2009.
  2. Books: Fifteen Guns, Time Magazine, December 23, 1946.
  3. Paul M.A. Linebarger, Psychological Warfare, 2nd edition, 1955, Combat Forces Press, p. 204.
  4. Our Captain. usslcca25.com. Retrieved on April 14, 2022.
  5. Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, 1946–Present, New York City: Ballantine Press, 1992, p. 79.
  6. Behind Closed Doors: The Secret History of the Cold War, barnesandnoble.com, accessed October 7, 2009; no longer accessible on-line.
  7. Tulsa Library plans series on Travels with Tulsans. The Tulsa World (January 4, 1989). Retrieved on April 14, 2022; under pay wall.
  8. Ellis M Zacharias Jr Inventor (May 8, 1992). Retrieved on April 14, 2022.
  9. ZACHARIAS – Ellis M Jr. The Tulsa World (April 20, 2006). Retrieved on April 14, 2022.
  10. CPT Jerrold Matthew “Zack” Zacharias Sr. (1927-2020) - Find a Grave Memorial, accessed April 14, 2022.
  11. CAPT JERROLD M. ZACHARIAS, USN. Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Inc.. Retrieved on November 12, 2013. no longer accessible on-line.
  12. Jerrold M. Zacharias, Captain, USN (Ret.). The Golden Eagles Roost. Retrieved on April 14, 2022.