The Bottom Line: Learn something new about the Twilight Zone.
The Full Story:
- “The Twilight Zone” was created by television producer, Rod Serling in 1959.
- The show was very much different than everything else on television at the time, which made it difficult to get an audience but eventually had immense success.
- Serling was famous for his multiple clashes with television executives and sponsors over problems such as censorship, racism and war.
- Serling narrated for the show, first through just his voice and then on camera during the second season. But he was not his own first choice. Serling's first choice for that role was Orson Welles, but apparently, they could never work out salary demands.
- Serling grew up in Binghamton, New York, and served as a U.S. Army paratrooper in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The combination of a small-town childhood plus the horrors that he saw during the war influenced his writing.
- Trekkies fans may remember William Shatner's famous role in the “Twilight Zone” episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." That’s where Shatner played an airline passenger who alone could see a monster on the wing, tearing the plane apart. But he also appeared in another episode. In "Nick of Time," Statner played a man who discovered a frighteningly accurate fortune telling machine.
- In 1997, the DC Looney Tunes comic book series published a parody of “The Twilight Zone.”
- Bob Crane, who played Colonel Robert Hogan on “Hogan's Heroes,” was a radio announcer in the episode "Static." You can listen to his voice here. Since Crane got his start as a disc jockey, the role fit. Crane, however, was uncredited.
- Several episodes were remade for the 1983 movie, “Twilight Zone: The Movie.”
- The series was revived from 1985-1989 for a total of 110 episodes.
- "Twilight Zone" was revolutionary in the way it affected not just TV storytelling, but in how TV shows were made. Serling was arguably the first real "showrunner," a writer — rather than a producer — who was in charge of his own show.
- Every “Twilight Zone” fan has their favorite episodes, but the same can’t be said for the actors involved. Why? The show had a budget, just like any other series, and often the bulk of the money per episode had to be spent on sets and special effects – that meant there was no luxury of multiple retakes until the actor felt just right about a particular scene. So you got it right, no matter if you did or not.
- Serling was just 50 when he died from a heart attack. Who read the eulogy at his funeral? Good pal, fellow showrunner and future thinker Gene Roddenberry, creator of "Star Trek."