Compiled by: Barbara K. Emanuele
Kelly Robinson, Jr. born on August 16 1932, in Akron, Ohio, was best known to the general public as an internationally ranked and world famous tennis player; however, he quietly spent most of his adult life as a covert agent for the US military. His father, Kelly Robinson, Sr. was a lawyer who served in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps during and immediately following World War II. His mother was a housewife who died of undisclosed causes in 1943. The exact name of the US military agency Robinson worked for was never revealed, though it operated out of room 314 at the Pentagon. For a significant portion of his clandestine career, he worked with Alexander Scott, an Oxford trained linguist who also was credentialed as a sports trainer. Later in his career, Robinson was the Director for Field Operations for the above agency; however, it now worked out of a series of offices in the Department of Agriculture.
By all accounts, his early childhood was idyllic. Kelly attended school in his native Ohio and spent his free time as most other boys did playing sports and reading comic books like Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Terry and the Pirates. The long summer breaks found him with relatives in Idaho. It was here that his lifelong love for the sport of fishing began. Also, but certainly not as intensively as it would be later in his life, Robinson began his gun training on several rifles his great-uncle kept on his farm.
Following his mother’s death in 1943, and because of his father’s military service, Kelly began attending boarding schools, and in the summers, he would join his father overseas. Shortly after the war ended in 1946, Kelly visited the Dachau Concentration Camp. The visit proved life altering as it was the first moment where Robinson truly began to understand man’s capacity for inhumanity and first felt the need to do something about it. This visit and the need to make sure events like the Holocaust never happened again, would guide Kelly toward a life of (albeit secret) public service.
Returning to the United States, he continued attending boarding school. As he neared the completion of high school, Kelly met the woman he would eventually become engaged to, Jean. It was also during these years that his father died of unknown causes.
Perhaps on the strength of his athletic prowess as both a Tennis and Track champion (exceling particularly in Pole Vaulting), or perhaps as a “legacy” admission, Kelly Robinson attended Princeton University where he read Law. For pocket money Kelly waited tables at a nearby all-girls boarding school.
Around the time of his graduation from Princeton, he was drafted into the Korean War. Robinson served with great distinction, eventually earning a field promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. As full participant in some of the darkest hours of the Twentieth Century, his thoughts turned away from tennis and towards a life meant for the public good.
But again, those thoughts were shelved as the war came to an end and Kelly began his career full time as a tennis champion. He was internationally ranked throughout the fifties and sixties, eventually becoming the third seed at Forrest Hills in 1963. At the Davis Cup that year, he won his doubles matches, but lost in the singles competitions.
It was also during these years that he gained a reputation, frankly well earned, as a playboy. His obvious intelligence and Hollywood Leading Man level of good looks opened many doors for him and he found himself in equal measure in the company of the rich and famous. But those years as motherless child, as a boy who had seen the worst the world had to offer, and as a young man in some of the cruelest foxholes known to man, left him uneasy with that world. Wanting to maintain the ideals of his childhood heroes, while acknowledging the realities of a rapidly changing world, Kelly Robinson accepted the invitation to begin training to be a part of the Defense Department’s clandestine spy agency.
Breaking off his engagement to his high school sweetheart Jean, and with the cover of an injury to keep him off the courts for several months, Kelly Robinson attended the agency’s training academy in San Francisco, California. While there he mastered the arts of spy craft, became an expert marksman, obtained a black belt in Judo, and most importantly met and became friends with another recruit, Alexander Scott. This relationship would define the rest of Robinson’s life.
Sporadically through 1964 and then much more steadily from 1965 to 1968, Robinson and Scott formed a professional partnership that was second to none. Travelling throughout the world, under the guise of a tennis pro and his trainer, the two men ran point on several assignments that included but were not limited to, isolating and destroying a superbug, finding and disarming a nuclear weapon, saving the life of a US Senator and the President of the United States.
Personally, “Scotty” was the perfect balance to Kelly. Whereas Robinson had a great knowledge of philosophy and literature, Scott was a linguist. Kelly was for most his life a heavy drinker and smoker; Scotty abstained from both. And where the former could be driven to the point of self-destruction by his passions and ideals, the latter more often than not was able to maintain a cool distance from the situation to guide his partner back from the ledge. (Something Alexander Scott literally did twice during their partnership.) By that same token, on those occasions where Scotty found himself overwhelmed by the emotions surrounding an assignment, Robinson was able to dig deep and find his own reserve to be the rock that his partner could lean on.
They were partners in the truest sense of the word. Ideally matched in wit, charm, looks, and strength, at no point was one far superior to the other. Mission after mission, locked room after opened room, they were equals who never let the obvious difference in race be anything more than a physical difference. Their work and their cover allowed them to function above the racial turmoil of the late sixties.
For reasons that remain potentially classified and most definitely unknown, the two men stopped being partners before 1970 and only corresponded through occasional letters until 1994.
In the intervening years, Robinson continued to work as an agent until his age necessitated not only retirement from the tennis court but from active field work as well. And though he has been officially reprimanded because of a romantic involvement with a fellow agent who left the service under auspicious circumstances, Kelly was eventually able to rise through the supervisory ranks, becoming Director of Field Operations. It was also during this period that, presumably, he married and had a son, Bennett.
In 1994 as Bennett began his career in the family business, a classmate of his was also following in her father’s footsteps. Nicole Scott, daughter of Alexander, surpassed her father in all of his previous training scores and graduated at the top of her class. Because of this, and because he was naturally inclined to see her work with the best, Kelly Robinson paired Nicole with his son Bennett. During their first assignment together as partners, Alexander Scott returned to the scene mostly to encourage his daughter to pursue another line of work. Instead he found himself reunited with his former partner, and finally Robinson and Scott were able to work out their differences in time to assist their children on their mission.
Robinson invited his former partner to rejoin the firm, but happy with his life with his wife, and his career as foreign language professor, Scotty declined. According to all official records, this is the last time the two men saw each other.
Kelly Robinson has not been seen in public since March 25, 2010, and his whereabouts remain unknown.