Selmer Jackson - The Secret Code

Selmer Jackson played in over 400 film or television shows in his 40 year career as an actor. This year he’ll add another credit to his resume in Clandestine.

In 1942, Selmer Jackson played Major Henry Burton, a military intelligence professional who’s job was to find and crack enemy codes in World War II America. The film was The Secret Code, a 15 episode serial about pseudo suspended city cop who finagles his way into a Nazi Spy ring in efforts crack the enemies code. At the end of each chapter Maj. Burton gives a lesson to the audience on espionage and cracking secret codes. (Presumably these are actual cases from the field that he and his team have had to crack in the past weeks, months.)

Whether or not codes were actually distributed the way Maj. Burton describes is anybodies guess. However, we do know in fact that encrypted messages were delivered via Numbers Stations through the use of Shortwave Radios and One-Time Pads. There is a reason this method of spy craft is not mentioned once in the 15 episodes, and it relates to our perception of how spies do what they do. In the 1940’s spies shuffled about hiding messages in lunch boxes with a belt full of smoke bombs and a girl they loved but could never trust. In the modern era, a spy is a link in a chain of a vast network of information flowing to and from satellites, camera’s hidden in eyeglasses, a passport and alias for every culture and country, and an army of people staring at computer monitors from 2025. But the fact is, one method remains the same and yet there is no more publicly available information available on Numbers Stations from our governments then there was in 1940.

Going back to Selmer Jackson, his career seems to be as clandestine as a spies. For many of the films to which he can place his name, many of them he remains uncredited. Look for Selmer Jackson in The Secret Code, and find him as well in Clandestine.