The Name Is Stephenson, William Stephenson

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


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James Bond may not be as fictional as you thought... 

Often considered to be the inspiration for the romanticized, over-sexed spy, and credited with being a key player in the creation of the CIA, Sir William Samuel Stephenson was an inventor, (real-life) master spy, and businessman. 

Born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1896, he was a fighter pilot in WWI and was then placed in charge of the British Security Coordination (counterespionage) in the Western Hemisphere, headquartered in New York Cit,y during WWII.

He is most well known for his wartime intelligence codename Intrepid.  

During the war (amongst other things) he intercepted coded letters from the enemy, passed secrets between Roosevelt and Churchill, and trained allied agents who were later sent to Nazi-occupied Europe. 

He was knighted by King George VI in 1945 and awarded the US Medal for Merit from President Truman (only the second non-American to receive the award at the time), but very little was known about what he did during the war until the publication of The Quiet Canadian, A Man Called Intrepid, and Intrepid's Last Case. Though, the claims made in the books have long been disputed and will probably never be proven (that whole national security thing...). 

In 1979 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, and he died at his home in Bermuda on January 31, 1989. 

In May 2000, the CIA Executive Director made this statement:

"Sir William Stephenson played a key role in the creation of the CIA. He realized early on that America needed a strong intelligence organization and lobbied contacts close to President Roosevelt to appoint a U.S. "coordinator" to oversee FBI and military intelligence... Although Roosevelt didn't establish exactly what Sir William had in mind, the organization created represented a revolutionary step in the history of American intelligence. Intrepid may not have technically been the father of CIA, but he's certainly in our lineage someplace."

(source)

Sounds like a pretty cool guy. I wonder if he liked martinis?