The Twilight Zone is an American media
franchise based on the anthology television series created by Rod
Serling. The episodes are in various genres, including fantasy,
science fiction, suspense, horror, and psychological thriller, often
concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist, and usually with a
moral. A popular and critical success, it introduced many Americans
to common science fiction and fantasy tropes. The original series,
shot entirely in black and white, ran on CBS for five seasons from
1959 to 1964.
The Twilight Zone followed in the
tradition of earlier television shows such as Tales of Tomorrow
(195153) and Science Fiction Theatre (195557); radio
programs such as The Weird Circle (194345), Dimension X
(195051) and X Minus One (195558); and the radio work of
one of Serling's inspirations, Norman Corwin.
TV Guide ranked the original TV series #5
in their 2013 list of the 60 greatest shows of all time and #4 in
their list of the 60 greatest dramas. Most episodes of the original
series continue to be broadcast in syndication.
Originally, there were five episodes not
included in the syndication package. Three of those ("Sounds and
Silences," "Miniature," and "A Short Drink From a
Certain Fountain") were involved in copyright infringement
lawsuits. The other two, which have never been in syndication (both
from season five), are "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
(a French short film, aired twice per agreement with the filmmakers)
and "The Encounter" with George Takei (which was pulled
after its initial showing, due to the racial overtones).
The Twilight Zone "Radio Dramas"
is a nationally syndicated radio series featuring adaptations of the
classic television series The Twilight Zone first produced in October
2002 with the final show released in 2012 for 176 episodes in all.
Many of the stories are based on Rod Serling's scripts from the
original Twilight Zone series, and are slightly expanded and updated
to reflect contemporary technology and trends (e.g., the mention of
"cell phones" and "CD-ROMs" which, of course,
were not around when the television show aired in the 1960s).
addition to adapting all of the original episodes aired on the
1959-1964 TV series, the radio series has also adapted some Twilight
Zone TV scripts which were never produced, scripts from other Serling
TV productions, and new stories written especially for the radio
series. Taking Serling's role as narrator is Stacy Keach. Different
Hollywood actors including Jason Alexander, Blair Underwood, Lou
Gossett, Jr., Michael York, Jim Caviezel, Jane Seymour, Don Johnson,
Sean Astin, Luke Perry and others took the lead roles in each radio
drama. In addition, several stars who appeared on the original TV
series, such as H.M. Wynant, Orson Bean and Morgan Brittany, appear,
although purposely not in the roles they originated on television.
The series features a full cast, music and sound effects and is
produced in the flavor of, and pays tribute to classic radio dramas
with the presence of radio legend Stan Freberg in many episodes, and
the sons of radio drama personalities Stacy Keach, Sr., Ed Begley, Sr.
Licensed by CBS Enterprises and The Rod
Serling Estate, The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas is produced by veteran
producer and sound designer Roger Wolski and Carl Amari and is
broadcast on hundreds of radio stations from coast-to-coast and over Sirius/XM.
The Twilight Zone has also produced three
revival television series, a TV movie and a feature film. Twilight
Zone: The Movie (1983) was produced by Steven Spielberg and starred
Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, and the late Vic Morrow and
Scatman Crothers. The film remade three classic episodes of the
original series and included one original story. John Landis directed
the prologue and the first segment, Steven Spielberg directed the
second, Joe Dante the third, and George Miller directed the final
segment. Landis's episode became notorious for a helicopter accident
during filming that caused the deaths of Morrow and two child actors.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has expressed
interest in making a new film with Warner Bros., citing The Twilight
Zone as his favorite TV series. Unlike the first film, which was an
anthology feature, it may be a big-budget, SFX-laden continuous story
possibly based on classic episodes of the series such as "Eye of
the Beholder", "To Serve Man", or any of the 92
scripts written by Rod Serling, to which Warner Bros. owns the rights.
first TV revival (198589) ran on CBS and in syndication in the
1980s. After the original Twilight Zone series ended in 1964, Rod
Serling sold the rights to the series to CBS, unaware of what the
future would hold in syndication, and the royalties he would have
gained. His wife, Carol, later claimed he did this partly because he
believed that his own production company, Cayuga Productions, would
never recoup the production costs of the programs, which frequently
went over budget.
As an in-house production, CBS stood to
earn more money producing The Twilight Zone than they could by
purchasing a new series produced by an outside company. Even so, the
network was slow to consider a revival, shooting down offers from the
original production team of Rod Serling and Buck Houghton and later
from American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Their hesitation
stemmed from concerns familiar to the original series: The Twilight
Zone had never been the breakaway hit CBS wanted, so they should not
expect it to do better in a second run. "We were looking at the
success of the original series in syndication and the enormous
popularity of the Steven Spielberg films," said CBS program
chief Harvey Shepard. "Many of them (such as E.T. or
Poltergeist) deal with elements of the show. Perhaps the public is
ready for it again."
Despite the lukewarm response to Twilight
Zone movie, CBS gave the new Twilight Zone a greenlight in 1984 under
the supervision of Carla Singer, then Vice President of Drama
Development. Many were eager to work on a series which had proved
influential to their life and work, writers like Harlan Ellison,
George R. R. Martin, Rockne S. O'Bannon, Jeremy Bertrand Finch, Paul
Chitlik and directors like Wes Craven and William Friedkin. Casts
featured stars including Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Season Hubley,
Morgan Freeman, Martin Landau, Jonathan Frakes, and Fred Savage.
New theme music was composed and performed
by Grateful Dead with Merl Saunders, interpolating elements of the
classic theme to the original Twilight Zone by Marius Constant (used
in seasons 25). In addition, Grateful Dead would go on to
provide incidental music for a number of episodes in the series.
Filling in for Serling (who had died in
1975) as narrator was Charles Aidman (above), himself the star of two
classic Twilight Zone episodes. Aidman, a frequent TV guest star, had
been featured on CBS's The Wild Wild West in a recurring role for
several episodes during the series' fourth season as Jeremy Pike, one
of Jim West's substitute sidekicks, replacing co-star Ross Martin who
was recovering from a heart attact. This new version of The Twilight
Zone ran for two seasons on CBS. For most of the network run the
series was one hour in length, but occasionally (and in a departure
from the original series), presented two or three stories within the one-hour
time slot. For part of season 2, the show presented half-hour episodes.
An additional third season of half-hour
programs was produced in 1988 to "pad" the series'
syndication package. Robin Ward replaced Aidman as the narrator of
these Canadian-produced episodes. Unlike Serling (whose image appears
fleetingly in the revival's opening credits) neither Aidman nor Ward
appeared on screen.
Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics
was a 1994 telefilm consisting of two Rod Serling stories. The film
was co-produced by Serling's widow Carol Serling. Reportedly, she
found the two pieces in a trunk in the family's garage.
The first and shorter segment, entitled
The Theatre, was expanded and scripted by Richard Matheson from a
Serling outline. It starred Gary Cole and Amy Irving.
The longer segment, Where The Dead Are,
was a complete script Serling penned in 1968. Patrick Bergin and Jack
Palance starred. (Because it was written four years after the end of
the original series, this was not originally a Twilight Zone story.)
The tales have thematic echoes of stories about unnaturally prolonged
longevity, such as Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Edgar
Allan Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" and H.
P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air".
James Earl Jones hosted and narrated the
special. He had previously worked with Serling on the 1972 film The Man.
The second TV series revival aired for one
season on the UPN network, with actor Forest Whitaker assuming
Serling's role as narrator and on-screen host. It premiered on
September 18th, 2002, and aired its final episode on May 21st, 2003.
It was broadcast in an hour format with two half-hour stories.
"It's Still a Good Life" is a sequel to "It's a Good
Life", "The Monsters Are on Maple Street" is an
adaptation of "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and
"Eye of the Beholder" is a remake of an episode from the
original series, with Serling still credited as writer.
The third Twilight Zone series revival was
developed by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele, and Marco Ramirez.
Commenting on the new reboot, Serling's daughter Anne Serling
believes that her father would be astonished to see how relevant it
remains. "Ive thought about how would he feel about this
reboot or all this attention hes getting, and I can tell you
that he would be stunned. He didnt think that his writing would
stand the test of time. He dealt with human issues and themes that
are still so prevalent today, like racism and mob mentality. We
dont seem to be able to move ahead and change." Even the
phrase, "feels like Im living in the Twilight Zone",
is often used to describe how many feel about the current state of
the world. The series premiered on April 1st, 2019 on CBS All Access
and was almost immediately renewed for a second season. The second
episode of this series, "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet", is
based on "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
The original Twilight Zone episode
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with William Shatner has long
been a fan favorite. Multiple references to the episode have appeared
in other programs over years including The Simpsons. In the 3rd Rock
from the Sun episode "Dick's Big Giant Headache: Part 1"
(1999), William Shatner makes his first appearance on the series.
John Lithgow's character meets Shatner's character as he gets off an
aircraft. When Shatner describes seeing something horrifying on the
wing, Lithgow replies, "The same thing happened to me!"
This references not only Lithgow's portrayal of the nervous passenger
in the 1983 Twilight Zone movie remake, but also an earlier 3rd Rock
episode "Frozen Dick" (Season 1, Ep 12, 1996) when he and
Jane Curtin's characters were due to fly to Chicago to pick up awards
before Dick panicked about something on the wing while the plane was
still on the tarmac and gets them both kicked off the plane.
Shatner also had a cameo on the
"Whoopi Goldberg" episode of Muppets Tonight on July 7th,
1996. Miss Piggy is bothered by a Gremlin while riding in a jet and
she goes to tell another passenger played by Shatner. Shatner looks
at the Gremlin and nonchalantly says, "Oh. Him again." He
claims that he's been complaining about the gremlin for years, but
nobody does anything about it.
Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone reboot
retells the story again with a twist. This time the nightmare is at
30,000 feet and stars Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation, The Good
Place) in the role of the passenger. Instead of a gremlin on the wing
hes listening to an episode of a true mystery podcast
thats devoted to discussing the disappearance of the very
flight hes on.
Rod Serling owned a 1968
Glen Pray made replica of the 1937 Cord automobile. During the making
of the game show Liar's Club (1969), he would go riding with friend
and fellow actor and car enthusiast Tommy Bond, who played Butch in
the Little Rascals series from the 1940s.
Serling was born on December 25th, 1924, in Syracuse, New York, to a
Jewish family. He was the second of two sons born to Esther and
Samuel Lawrence Serling. Serling's father had worked as a secretary
and amateur inventor before his children were born, but took on his
father-in-law's profession as a grocer to earn a steady income and
later became a butcher after the Great Depression forced the store to
close. Serlings older brother was novelist and aviation writer Robert
Serlings parents encouraged his talents as
a performer. Sam Serling built a small stage in the basement, where
Rod often put on plays (with or without neighborhood children). His
older brother, writer Robert, recalled that, at the age of six or
seven, Rod entertained himself for hours by acting out dialogue from
pulp magazines or movies he had seen. In elementary school, Serling
was seen as the class clown and dismissed by many of his teachers as
a lost cause. However, his seventh-grade English teacher, Helen
Foley, encouraged him in his writting and to enter the school's
public speaking extracurriculars. (A schoolteacher in Twilight Zone:
The Movie (1983) was named Helen Foley in her honor.) He joined the
debate team and was a speaker at his high school graduation. He began
writing for the school newspaper, in which, according to the
journalist Gordon Sander, he "established a reputation as a
social activist". He was also interested in sports and excelled
at tennis and table tennis. When he attempted to join the varsity
football team, he was told he was too small at 5 ft 4 in tall.
Serling was interested in radio and
writing at an early age. He was an avid radio listener, especially
interested in thrillers, fantasy, and horror shows. He also "did
some staff work at a Binghamton radio station ... tried to write ...
but never had anything published." He was accepted into college
during his senior year of high school but decided to enlist rather
than start college immediately after he graduated from Binghamton
Central High School in 1943.
began his military career in 1943 at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, and
served in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne
Division. He eventually reached the rank of Technician Fourth Grade
(T/4). Over the next year of paratrooper training, Serling and others
began boxing to vent aggression. He competed as a flyweight and had
17 bouts, rising to the second round of the division finals before
being knocked out. He was remembered for Berserker style and for
"getting his nose broken in his first bout and again in the last
bout." In May 1944, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater in
New Guinea and the Philippines an in November, his division first saw
combat at the Battle of Leyte. For a variety of reasons, Serling was
transferred to the 511th's demolition platoon, nicknamed "The
Death Squad" for its high casualty rate. According to Sergeant
Frank Lewis, leader of the demolitions squad, "He screwed up
somewhere along the line. Apparently he got on someone's nerves."
Lewis also judged that Serling was not suited to be a field soldier:
"he didn't have the wits or aggressiveness required for
combat." At one point, Lewis, Serling, and others were in a
firefight, trapped in a foxhole. As they waited for darkness, Lewis
noticed that Serling had not reloaded any of his extra magazines.
Serling sometimes went exploring on his own, against orders, and got lost.
Serling's time in Leyte shaped his writing
and political views for the rest of his life. He saw death every day
while in the Philippines, at the hands of his enemies and his allies,
and through freak accidents such as that which killed another Jewish
private, Melvin Levy. Levy was delivering a comic monologue for the
platoon as they rested under a palm tree when a food crate was
dropped from a plane above, decapitating him. Serling led the funeral
services for Levy and placed a Star of David over his grave. Serling
later set several of his scripts in the Philippines and used the
unpredictability of death as a theme in much of his writing.
Serling returned from the successful
mission in Leyte with two wounds, including one to his kneecap, but
neither kept him from combat when General Douglas MacArthur deployed
the paratroopers on February 3rd, 1945. Colonel Haugen led the 511th
Parachute Infantry Regiment as it landed on Tagaytay Ridge, met the
188th Glider Infantry Regiment and marched into Manila. It met
minimal resistance until it reached the city, where Vice Admiral
Sanji Iwabuchi had arranged his 17,000 troops behind a maze of traps
and guns and ordered them to fight to the death. During the next
month, Serling's unit battled block by block for control of Manila.
When portions of the city were taken from Japanese control, local
civilians sometimes showed their gratitude by throwing parties and
hosting banquets. During one of these parties, Serling and his
comrades were fired upon, resulting in many soldier and civilian
deaths. Serling, still a private after three years, caught the
attention of Sergeant Lewis when he ran into the line of fire to
rescue a performer who had been on stage when the artillery started
firing. As it moved in on Iwabuchi's stronghold, Serling's regiment
had a 50% casualty rate, with over 400 men killed. Serling was
wounded and three comrades were killed by shrapnel from rounds fired
at his roving demolition team by an antiaircraft gun. He was sent to
New Guinea to recover but soon returned to Manila to finish
Serling's final assignment was as part of
the occupation force in Japan. During his military service, Private
Serling was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the
Philippine Liberation Medal.
Serling's combat experience affected him
deeply and influenced much of his writing and his politics. It left
him with nightmares and flashbacks for the rest of his life. He said,
"I was bitter about everything and at loose ends when I got out
of the service. I think I turned to writing to get it off my
chest." Serling was a staunch Democrat throughout his life, an
outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War and a supporter of the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
After being discharged from the Army in
1946, Serling worked at a rehabilitation hospital while recovering
from his wounds. His knee troubled him for years. Later, his wife,
Carol, became accustomed to the sound of him falling down the stairs
when his knee buckled under his weight.
When he was fit enough, he used the
federal G.I. bill's educational benefits and disability payments to
enroll in the physical education program at Antioch College in Yellow
Springs, Ohio. He had been accepted to Antioch (his brother's alma
mater) while in high school. His interests led him to the theater
department and then to broadcasting and became active in the campus
radio station. He wrote, directed, and acted in many radio programs
on campus, then around the state, as part of his work study. Here he
met Carolyn Louise "Carol" Kramer, a fellow student, who
later became his wife (above). At first, she refused to date him
because of his campus reputation as a "ladies' man", but
she eventually changed her mind. He joined the Unitarian church in
college, which allowed him to marry Kramer on July 31st, 1948. They
had two daughters, Jodi and Anne.
For extra money in his college years,
Serling worked part-time testing parachutes for the United States
Army Air Forces. He received $50 for each successful jump and had
once been paid $500 (half before and half if he survived) for a
hazardous test. His last test jump was a few weeks before his
wedding. In one instance, he earned $1,000 for testing a jet ejection
seat that had killed the previous three testers.
volunteered at WNYC in New York as an actor and writer in the summer
of 1946. The next year, he worked at that station as a paid intern in
his Antioch work-study program. He then took odd jobs in other radio
stations in New York and Ohio. "I learned 'time', writing for a
medium that is measured in seconds," Serling later said of his
While attending college, Serling worked at
the Antioch Broadcasting System's radio workshop and was managing the
station within a couple of years. He then took charge of full-scale
radio productions at Antioch which were broadcast on WJEM, in
Springfield. He wrote and directed the programs and acted in them
when needed. He created the entire output for the 19481949
school year. With one exception (an adaptation), all the writing that
year was his original work.
While in college, Serling won his first
accolade as a writer. The radio program, Dr. Christian, had started
an annual scriptwriting contest eight years earlier. Thousands of
scripts were sent in annually, but very few could be produced.
Serling won a trip to New York City and $500 for his radio script
"To Live a Dream". He and his new wife, Carol, attended the
awards broadcast on May 18th, 1949, where he and the other winners
were interviewed by the star of Dr. Christian, Jean Hersholt. One of
the other winners that day was Earl Hamner, Jr., who had also earned
prizes in previous years. Later, Hamner wrote scripts for Serling's
The Twilight Zone and would go on to write and create the TV series
In addition to earning $45 to $50 a week
at the college radio station, Serling attempted to make a living
selling freelance scripts of radio programs, but the industry at that
time was involved in many lawsuits, which affected willingness to
take on new writers (some whose scripts were rejected would often
hear a similar plot produced, claim their work had been stolen, and
sue for recompense). Serling was rejected for reasons such as
"heavy competition", "this script lacks professional
quality", and "not what our audience prefers to listen to".
the autumn of 1949, Martin Horrell of Grand Central Station (a radio
program known for romances and light dramas) rejected one of
Serling's scripts about boxing, because his mostly female listeners
"have told us in no uncertain terms that prize fight stories
aren't what they like most". Horrell advised that "the
script would be far better for sight than for sound only, because in
any radio presentation, the fights are not seen. Perhaps this is a
baby you should try on some of the producers of television
shows." Serling then submitted a lighter piece to Horrell called
Hop Off the Express and Grab a Local, which became his first
nationally broadcast piece on September 10th, 1949. His Dr. Christian
script aired on November 30th of that year.
Serling began his professional writing
career in 1950, when he earned $75 a week as a network continuity
writer for WLW radio in Cincinnati, Ohio. While at WLW, he continued
to freelance. He sold several radio and television scripts to WLW's
parent company, Crosley Broadcasting Corporation. After selling the
scripts, Serling had no further involvement with them. They were sold
by Crosley to local stations across the United States.
Serling submitted an idea for a weekly
radio show in which the ghosts of a young boy and girl killed in
World War II would look through train windows and comment on
day-to-day human life as it moved around the country. This idea was
changed significantly, but was produced from October 1950 to February
1951 as Adventure Express, a drama about a girl and boy who travel by
train with their uncle. Each week they found adventure in a new town
and got involved with the local residents.
Other radio programs for which Serling
wrote scripts include Leave It to Kathy, Our America, and Builders of
Destiny. During the production of these, he became acquainted with a
voice actor, Jay Overholts, who later became a regular on The
Serling said of his time as a staff writer
for radio, "From a writing point of view, radio ate up ideas
that might have put food on the table for weeks at a future
freelancing date. The minute you tie yourself down to a radio or TV
station, you write around the clock. You rip out ideas, many of them
irreplaceable. They go on and consequently can never go on again. And
you've sold them for $50 a week. You can't afford to give away ideas
- they're too damn hard to come by. If I had it to do over, I
wouldn't staff-write at all. I'd find some other way to support
myself while getting a start as a writer."
"I think Rod would have been one
of the first to say he hit the new industry, television, at exactly
the right time. The first job he got out of school was as continuity
writer at (radio station) WLW in Cincinnati. He worked there for over
a year before he could free-lance. At that point, he was really
working on television scripts. In 1951 and 1952, the new industry was
grabbing up a lot of material and needed it. It was a very propitious
time to be graduating from school and getting ready to find a profession."
- Carol Serling, Los
Angeles Times, 1990 interview
Serling moved from radio to television, as
a writer for WKRC-TV in Cincinnati. His duties included writing
testimonial advertisements for dubious medical remedies and scripts
for a comedy duo. He continued at WKRC after graduation and, amidst
the mostly dreary day-to-day work, also created a series of scripts
for a live television program, The Storm, as well as for other
anthology dramas (a format which was in demand by networks based in
New York). Following a full day of classes (or, in later years,
work), he spent evenings on his own, writing. He sent manuscripts to
publishers and received forty rejection slips during these early years.
In 1950, Serling hired Blanche Gaines as
an agent. His radio scripts received more rejections, so he began
rewriting them for television. Whenever a script was rejected by one
program, he would resubmit it to another, eventually finding a home
for many in either radio or television. By the end of 1954, his agent
convinced him he needed to move to New York, "where the action is."
In 1956, the nationwide Kraft Television
Theatre televised a program based on Serling's seventy-second script.
To Serling, it was just another script, and he missed the first live
broadcast. He and his wife hired a babysitter for the night and told
her, "no one would call because we had just moved to town. And
the phone just started ringing and didn't stop for years!" The
title of this episode was "Patterns", and it soon changed
his life. "Patterns" dramatized the power struggle between
a veteran corporate boss running out of ideas and energy and the
bright, young executive being groomed to take his place.
"Patterns" won Serling an Emmy Award.
After the first showing of
"Patterns", the studio received such positive feedback that
it produced a repeat performance, the first time a television program
had been replayed at the request of the audience. Although successful
shows had sometimes been recreated after two years or more, this was
the first time a show was recreated exactly - with the same cast and
crew - as it had been originally broadcast. The second live
performance, only a month later, was equally successful and inspired
New York Times critic Jack Gould to write an essay on the use of
replays on television. In 1956 a single broadcast was the norm for
television shows of the day. Sponsors believed that creating new
shows every week would assure them the largest possible audience, so
they purchased a new script for each night. Gould suggested that
"Patterns" was proof that a second showing could gain more
viewers because those who missed the first showing could see the second.
following the original broadcast of "Patterns", Serling
was inundated with offers of permanent jobs, congratulations, and
requests for novels, plays, and television or radio scripts. He
quickly sold many of his earlier, lower-quality works and watched in
dismay as they were published. Critics expressed concern that he was
not living up to his promise and began to doubt he was able to
recreate the quality of writing that "Patterns" had shown.
Serling then wrote "Requiem for a
Heavyweight" for the television series Playhouse 90 in 1956,
which starred Jack Palance as a washed-up prizefighter. Again gaining
praise from critics, Serling won a second Emmy.
In the autumn of 1957, the Serling family
moved to California. When television was new, shows aired live, but
as studios began to tape their shows, the business moved from the
East Coast to the West Coast. The Serlings would live in California
for much of his life, but they kept property in Binghamton and Cayuga
Lake as retreats for when he needed time alone.
With success came frustration with seeing
his scripts divested of political statements and ethnic identities by
the constant demands of networks and sponsors for changes and edits.
In Requiem for a Heavyweight, the line "Got a match?" had
to be removed because the sponsor sold lighters; other programs had
similar editing of words that might remind viewers of competitors to
the sponsor, including one case in which the sponsor, Ford Motor
Company, had the Chrysler Building removed from a picture of the New
York City skyline.
Serling had been trying to delve into
material more controversial than his works of the early 1950s. This
led to "Noon on Doomsday" for the United States Steel Hour
in 1956, a commentary by Serling on the defensiveness and total lack
of repentance he saw in the Mississippi town where the murder of
Emmett Till took place. His original script closely paralleled the
Till case, then was moved out of the South and the victim changed to
a Jewish pawnbroker, and eventually watered down to just a foreigner
in an unnamed town. Despite bad reviews, numerous letters and wires
were sent protesting the production.
Serling decided the only way to avoid such
artistic interference was to create his own show. In an interview
with Mike Wallace, he said, "I don't want to fight anymore. I
don't want to have to battle sponsors and agencies. I don't want to
have to push for something that I want and have to settle for second
best. I don't want to have to compromise all the time, which in
essence is what a television writer does if he wants to put on
Serling thought that a science-fictional
setting, with robots, aliens and other supernatural occurrences,
would give him more freedom and less interference in expressing
controversial ideas than more realistic settings. "The Time
Element" was Serling's 1957 pilot pitch for his show, a time
travel adventure about a man who travels back to Honolulu in 1941 and
unsuccessfully tries to warn everyone about the impending attack on
THE TIME ELEMENT (1958)
Several years after the end of World War
II, a man named Peter Jenson (William Bendix) visits a psychoanalyst,
Dr. Gillespie (Martin Balsam). Jenson tells him about a recurring
dream in which he tries to warn people about the "sneak
attack" on Pearl Harbor before it happens, but the warnings are
disregarded. Jenson believes the events of the dream are real, and
each night he travels back to 1941. Dr. Gillespie insists that time
travel is impossible given the nature of temporal paradoxes. While on
the couch, Jenson falls asleep once again but this time dreams that
the Japanese planes shoot and kill him. In Dr. Gillespie's office,
the couch Jenson was lying on is now empty. Dr. Gillespie goes to a
bar where he finds Jenson's picture on the wall. The bartender tells
him that Jenson had tended bar there, but he was killed during the
Pearl Harbor attack.
Serling submitted "The Time
Element" to CBS, intending it to be a pilot for weekly show, The
Twilight Zone. With the "Time Element" script, Serling
drafted the fundamental elements that defined the subsequent series:
a science-fiction/fantasy theme, opening and closing narration, and
an ending with a twist. "The Time Element" was purchased
immediately by CBS-TV, but shelved indefinitely.
This is where things stood when Bert
Granet, the new producer for Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse,
discovered "The Time Element" in CBS' vaults while
searching for an original Serling script to add prestige to his show.
"The Time Element" (introduced by Desi Arnaz) debuted on
November 24th, 1958, to an overwhelmingly delighted audience of
television viewers and critics alike. Over 6,000 letters of praise
flooded Granet's offices. Convinced that a series based on such
stories could succeed, CBS again began talks with Serling about the
possibilities of producing The Twilight Zone. "Where Is
Everybody?" was accepted as the pilot episode and the project
was officially announced to the public in early 1959. Other than
reruns at the time "The Time Element" was not aired on
television again until it was shown as part of a 1996 all-night sneak
preview of the new cable channel TVLand. The Twilight Zone Season 1
Blu-ray boxed set released on September 14th, 2010, offers a
remastered high-definition version of the original Desilu Playhouse
production as a special feature.
On October 2nd, 1959, the classic Twilight
Zone series, created by Serling, premiered on CBS.
this series, Serling fought hard to get and maintain creative
control. He hired scriptwriters he respected, such as Richard
Matheson and Charles Beaumont and drew on his own experience for many
episodes. The Twilight Zone incorporated his social views on racial
relations, somewhat veiled in the science fiction and fantasy
elements of the shows. Occasionally, the point was quite blunt, such
as in the episode "I Am the Night - Color Me Black", in
which racism and hatred causes a dark cloud to form in the American
South and spread across the world. Many Twilight Zone stories
reflected his views on gender roles, featuring quick-thinking,
resilient women as well as shrewish, nagging wives.
The Twilight Zone aired for five seasons
(the first three presented half-hour episodes, the fourth had
hour-long episodes, and the fifth returned to the half-hour format).
It won many television and drama awards and drew critical acclaim for
Serling and his co-workers. Although it had loyal fans, The Twilight
Zone had only moderate ratings and was twice canceled and revived.
After five years and 156 episodes (92 written by Serling), he grew
weary of the series. In 1964, he decided not to oppose its third and
Post Twilight Zone Serling keep busy
writting screenplays for film, television and radio, getting involved
in social causes, teaching (he was a Communications professor at
Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York) and the occasional acting cameo.
Serling often said that "the ultimate obscenity is not caring,
not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing
back and drawing in, becoming narcissistic." This philosophy can
be seen in his writing. Some themes appear again and again in his
writing, many of which are concerned with war and politics. Another
common theme is equality among all people.
"No one could know Serling, or
view or read his work, without recognizing his deep affection for
humanity ... and his determination to enlarge our horizons by giving
us a better understanding of ourselves."
- Gene Roddenberry
In 1964 Serling scripted "A Carol for
Another Christmas", a modernization of Charles Dickens' A
Christmas Carol and a plea for global cooperation between nations. It
was telecast only once, on December 28th, 1964. It was the only
television movie directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and was the film
in which Peter Sellers gave his first performance after a series of
near-fatal heart attacks in the wake of his marriage to Britt Ekland.
Sellers portrayed a demagogue in an apocalyptic Christmas. Sterling
Hayden, who costarred with Sellers in Dr. Strangelove earlier that
year, also was featured. The cast included Percy Rodriguez, Eva Marie
Saint, Ben Gazzara, Barbara Ann Teer, James Shigeta, and Britt
Ekland. Henry Mancini wrote the theme music, which was recorded for
his 1966 holiday LP, A Merry Mancini Christmas. The film is not
The Loner is an American western series
that ran for one season on CBS from 1965 to 1966. The series was
created by Rod Serling a year after the cancellation of The Twilight
Zone and was one of the last TV series on CBS to air in
black-and-white. The series was set in the years immediately
following the American Civil War. Lloyd Bridges played the title
character, William Colton, a former Union cavalry captain who headed
to the American west in search of a new life. Each episode dealt with
Colton's encounters with various individuals on his trek west.
Intended as a realistic, adult Western, it failed to find an audiance
with a public grown used to the style of TV Westerns popular at the time.
In 1956 Rod Serling adaptated his teleplay
Patterns for the big screen. The film was directed by Fielder Cook
and starred Van Heflin, Everett Sloane, and Ed Begley. Sloane and
Begley reprised their roles from the television production. In 1962 a
film version of Requiem for a Heavyweight was made with Anthony Quinn
in the role originated by Jack Palance in 1956. Jackie Gleason and
Mickey Rooney took the parts portrayed on television by Keenan Wynn
and his father Ed Wynn, and social worker Grace Carney (renamed
Miller for the film) was portrayed by Julie Harris, replacing Kim
Hunter from the TV version. The film version is somewhat darker in
its plotline than the original teleplay.
Muhammad Ali (then knowna as Cassius Clay)
appears as Quinn's opponent in a boxing match at the beginning of the
movie, a memorable sequence filmed with the camera providing Quinn's
point of view as the unstoppable Ali rapidly punches directly at the
Some of Serlings' other film work included:
The Yellow Canary (1963) a thriller
directed by Buzz Kulik and starring Pat Boone and Barbara Eden. It
was adapted by Rod Serling from a novel by Whit Masterson, who also
wrote the novel that was the basis for Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.
The film was photographed by veteran Floyd Crosby and scored by jazz
composer Kenyon Hopkins.
Seven Days in May is a 1964 American
political thriller film about a military-political cabal's planned
takeover of the United States government in reaction to the
president's negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet
Union. The picture was directed by John Frankenheimer; starring Burt
Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Ava Gardner; with the
screenplay written by Rod Serling based on the novel of the same name
by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, published in September 1962.
The Doomsday Flight is a 1966
television-thriller film written by Rod Serling and directed by
William Graham. The cast includes Jack Lord, Edmond O'Brien, Van
Johnson, Katherine Crawford, John Saxon, Richard Carlson and Ed
Asner. At Los Angeles International Airport, when a Douglas DC-8
airliner takes off for New York, shortly after takeoff, the airline
receives a bomb threat from a stranger (Edmond O'Brien) asking for a
sum of $100,000 in small denominations. The show was one of the
highest-rated of the television season, but both Serling and his
brother Robert, a technical advisor on the project (a specialist in
aviation), regretted making the film. After the film was aired, a
rash of copycats telephoned in ransom demands to most of the largest
airlines. Serling was truly devastated by what his script had
encouraged. He told reporters who flocked to interview him, "I
wish to Christ that I had written a stagecoach drama starring John
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American
science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It stars
Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James
Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. The screenplay by Michael
Wilson and Rod Serling was loosely based on the 1963 French novel La
Planete des Singes by Pierre Boulle. Jerry Goldsmith composed the
groundbreaking avant-garde score. It was the first in a series of
five films made between 1968 and 1973, all produced by Arthur P.
Jacobs and released by 20th Century Fox. Serling spent nearly a year
in writing the screenplay for "Planet of the Apes",
altogether, writing about 50 different drafts.
THE NIGHT GALLERY
Rod Serling returned to weekly TV with
Night Gallery, an anthology television series that aired on NBC from
December 16th, 1970 to May 27th, 1973, featuring stories of horror
and the macabre. Rod Serling served both as the on-air host of Night
Gallery and as a major contributor of scripts, although he did not
have the same control of content and tone as he had on The Twilight
Zone. Serling viewed Night Gallery as a logical extension of The
Twilight Zone, but while both series shared an interest in
thought-provoking dark fantasy, more of Zone's offerings were science
fiction while Night Gallery focused on horrors of the supernatural.
appeared in an art gallery setting as the curator and introduced the
macabre tales that made up each episode by unveiling paintings (by
artists Thomas J. Wright and Jaroslav "Jerry" Gebr) that
depicted the stories. Night Gallery regularly presented adaptations
of classic fantasy tales by authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, as well
as original works, many of which were by Serling himself.
During its second season, the series also
began using original comedic blackout sketches between the longer
story segments in some episodes. Serling vehemently opposed their
presence on the show and didn't think they fit, as such, several of
them have no introduction from Serling. These types of segments were
much less frequent in the third and final season.
The series was introduced with a pilot TV
movie that aired on November 8th, 1969, and featured the directorial
debut of Steven Spielberg, as well as one of the last acting
performances by Joan Crawford (below).
Night Gallery was initially part of a
rotating anthology or wheel series called Four in One, featuring four
separate shows, including SFX (San Francisco International Airport)
with Lloyd Bridges, The Psychiatrist with Roy Thinnes and McCloud
with Dennis Weaver. Two of these, Night Gallery and McCloud, were
renewed for the 19711972 season, with McCloud becoming the most
popular and longest running of the four lasting seven seasons.
Gallery was nominated for an Emmy Award for its first-season episode
"They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" as the Outstanding
Single Program on U.S. television in 1971. In 1972, the series
received another nomination (Outstanding Achievement in Makeup) for
the second-season episode "Pickman's Model." Serling
himself received an Edgar Allan Poe Award for writing the pilot.
In order to increase the number of
episodes that were available for syndication, the 60-minute episodes
were re-edited for a 30-minute time slot, with many segments severely
cut, and others extended by inserting "new" scenes of
previously discarded, recycled, or stock footage to fill up the time.
In their book Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour,
authors Scott Skelton and Jim Benson identify 39 of the 98 individual
segments that were produced for Night Gallery as being "severely
altered" in syndication. Twenty-five episodes of an unrelated,
short-lived supernatural series from 1972, The Sixth Sense, were also
incorporated into the syndicated version of the series, with Serling
providing newly filmed introductions to those episodes. As The Sixth
Sense was originally a one-hour show, these episodes were all
severely edited to fit into the half-hour timeslot.
Serling returned to radio late in his
career with The Zero Hour (also known as Hollywood Radio Theater) in
1973. The drama anthology series featured tales of mystery,
adventure, and suspense, airing in stereo for two seasons. Serling
hosted the program and wrote some of the scripts.
final radio performance, which he recorded just a few weeks before
his death, was even more unusual: Fantasy Park was a 48-hour-long
rock concert aired by nearly 200 stations over Labor Day weekend in
1975. The program, produced by KNUS in Dallas, featured performances
by dozens of rock stars of the day, and even reunited the Beatles. It
was also completely imaginary, a "theatre-of-the-mind for the
70s", as producer Beau Weaver put it, using record albums
recorded live in concert, plus crowd noise and other sound effects.
(Stations who aired the special were reportedly inundated by callers
demanding to know how to get to the nonexistent concert.) KNUS
general manager Bart McLendon recruited Serling (his old teacher) to
record the host segments, bumpers, custom promos, and television
spots. Serling wrote the disclaimers, which aired each hour:
"Hello, this is Rod Serling and welcome back to Fantasy Park -
the crowds here today are unreal." "This is Fantasy Park -
the greatest live concert - never held."
In a departure from his earlier work,
Serling briefly hosted the first version of the game show Liar's Club (1969-1970
below center). The game show, originally produced by Ralph Andrews,
featured a panel of celebrity guests who offered explanations of
obscure or unusual objects. Contestants attempted to determine which
explanation was correct in order to win prizes. Regular panelists on
the Rod Serling version included Jonathan Harris and Betty White. A
second version of the program (1976 to 1979) was briefly hosted by
Bill Armstrong but was soon replaced by Allen Ludden. Frequent
panelists on the 1970s version included White (Ludden's wife), Joey
Bishop, Dick Gautier, Fannie Flagg, David Letterman and Larry Hovis,
who also produced this version. Another version of the show aired
during the 198889 season as The New Liar's Club with host Eric
Boardman and panelists, Jimmie Walker, Shannon Tweed, John Barbour
and Pete Barbutti.
In the 1970s, Serling appeared in
television commercials for Ford, Ziebart and the Japanese automaker
Mazda, during the time they were promoting vehicles for the U.S.
market powered with a rotary engine. He also made very occasional
minor acting appearances, all in material he didn't write. Serling
appeared more-or-less as a version of himself (but named "Mr.
Zone" above left) in a comedic bit on The Jack Benny Program. He
appeared in a 1962 episode of the short-lived sitcom Ichabod and Me
in the role of Eugene Hollinfield. Along with many other famous
faces, he was a pie-in-the-face recipient on The Soupy Sales Show.
Serling's turn came in 1962. In a 1972 episode of the crime drama
Ironside entitled "Bubble, Bubble, Toil, and Murder" (which
also featured a young Jodie Foster, above right), Serling plays a
small role as the proprietor of an occult magic shop. Towards the end
of his career, he narrated several documentaries about sharks and
other underwater life.
was said to smoke three to four packs of cigarettes a day. On May
3rd, 1975, he had a minor heart attack and was hospitalized. He spent
two weeks at Tompkins County Community Hospital before being released.
A second heart attack two weeks later
forced doctors to agree that open-heart surgery, though considered
risky at the time, was required.
The ten-hour-long procedure was performed
on June 26th, but Serling had a third heart attack on the operating
table and died two days later at Strong Memorial Hospital in
Rochester, New York. He was 50 years old.
His funeral and burial took place on July
2nd at Lake View Cemetery, Interlaken, (Seneca County), New York.
Serling's friend, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, had the honor
of reading the eulogy at Serling's funeral. A memorial was held at
Cornell University's Sage Chapel on July 7th, 1975. Speakers at the
Memorial included his daughter Anne and the Reverend John F. Hayward.
his death Serling's wife Carol (right) helped keep alive the legacy
of the Twilight Zone creator. She served as a consultant and appeared
in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) and was a supervising producer for
1994's Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics. She also was an
associate publisher and consulting editor from 1981-89 on a magazine
dedicated to the 1959-64 anthology show and has an executive producer
credit on the current CBS All Access revival hosted by Jordan Peele.
"It's not that I'm a keeper of the
flame. But it has kept me busy," she said in a 1987 interview.
"The Twilight Zone has turned into a business. I think Rod would
be absolutely amazed that the interest is still there and that so
many people remember his work."
A member of Ithaca College's Board of
Trustees for nearly two decades, Carol helped establish the Rod
Serling Archives at the school in upstate New York. The collection
includes scripts and screenplays, her husband's six Emmy Awards and
photos, films and books from his personal collection. She also helped
endow a Rod Serling Scholarship in Communications there.
Carol Serling, who had received a degree
in psychology and education in 1950, died on January 15th, 2020 at
the age of 90. Survivors include daughters Anne and Jodi,
grandchildren Samuel, Ryan and Erica and great-grandchildren Alyssa
Serling is considered to be one of the
most influential writers in television history and is credited with
creating many storytelling methods still used today. Regardless of
what he was working on, Rod Serling would sometimes spend up to 98
hours a week on his writing. He usually dictated his scripts into a
tape recorder and had his secretary type them up. He also keep a tape
recorder by his bed and would often awaken in the middle of the night
and dictate his dreams into the recorder while they were still fresh
in his memory.
Serling posthumously received a star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6840 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood,
California on October 6th, 1988. He was ranked #1 in TV Guide's list
of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends" (August 1st, 2004
issue), the only real person on the list. All the others are
television series characters. Serling was also posthumously inducted
into the Television Academy Hall of Fame (1985) and the Science
Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame (2008). Serling appears on a 44¢
USA commemorative postage stamp, issued August 11th 2009, in the
Early TV Memories issue honoring The Twilight Zone.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE - THE
Twlight Zone was produced by Cayuga Productions, Inc., a production
company owned and named by Serling. It reflects his background in
Central New York State and is named after Cayuga Lake, on which he
owned a home, and where Cornell University and Ithaca College are located.
Aside from Serling, who wrote or adapted
nearly two-thirds of the series' total episodes, writers for The
Twilight Zone included leading authors such as Charles Beaumont, Ray
Bradbury, Earl Hamner, Jr., George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson,
Reginald Rose, and Jerry Sohl. Many episodes also featured new
adaptations of classic stories by such writers as Ambrose Bierce,
Jerome Bixby, Damon Knight, John Collier, and Lewis Padgett.
Twilight Zone's writers frequently used
science fiction as a vehicle for social comment, as networks and
sponsors who censored controversial material from live dramas were
less concerned with seemingly innocuous fantasy and sci-fi stories.
Frequent themes on The Twilight Zone included nuclear war,
McCarthyism, and mass hysteria, subjects that were avoided on less
serious primetime television. Episodes such as "The Monsters Are
Due on Maple Street" and "I Am the Night - Color Me
Black" offered specific commentary on current events and social
issues. Other stories, such as "The Masks", "I Dream
of Genie", or "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" were
allegories, parables, or fables that reflected the moral and
philosophical choices of the characters.
Despite his esteem in the writing
community, Serling found the series difficult to sell. Few critics
felt that science fiction could transcend empty escapism and enter
the realm of adult drama. In a September 22nd, 1959, interview with
Serling, Mike Wallace asked a question illustrative of the times:
"...You're going to be, obviously, working so hard on The
Twilight Zone that, in essence, for the time being and for the
foreseeable future, you've given up on writing anything important for
While Serling's appearances on the show
became one of its most distinctive features, with his clipped
delivery still widely imitated today, he was reportedly nervous about
it and had to be persuaded to appear on camera. He wanted Richard
Egan to do the narration for The Twilight Zone because of his rich,
deep voice. However, due to strict studio contracts of the time, Egan
was unable to. Serling said "It's Richard Egan or no one. It's
Richard Egan, or I'll do the thing myself," which is exactly
what happened. Serling often steps into the middle of the action
while the characters remain oblivious to him, but on one notable
occasion, they are aware of his presence: In the episode "A
World of His Own", a writer (Keenan Wynn) with the power to
alter his reality objects to Serling's narration and promptly erases
Serling from the show.
In season two, due to budgetary
constraints, the network decided, against Serling's wishes, to cut
costs by shooting some episodes on videotape rather than film. The
requisite multicamera setup of the videotape format precluded
location shooting, severely limiting the potential scope of the
storylines, and the experiment was abandoned after just six episodes
("Twenty Two", "Static", "The Whole
Truth", "The Lateness of the Hour", "The Night of
the Meek", and "Long Distance Call").
The original series contains 156 episodes.
The episodes in seasons one through three are 30 minutes long. Season
four (196263) consists of one-hour episodes. Season five
returned to the half-hour format.
an anthology series with no recurring characters, The Twilight Zone
features a wide array of guest stars for each episode, some of whom
appeared in multiple episodes. Many episodes feature early
performances from actors who later became famous, such as Theodore
Bikel, Bill Bixby, Lloyd Bochner, Morgan Brittany, Charles Bronson,
Carol Burnett, Donna Douglas, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Constance
Ford, Joan Hackett, Dennis Hopper, Ron Howard, Jim Hutton, Jack
Klugman, Martin Landau, Cloris Leachman, Jean Marsh, Elizabeth
Montgomery, Billy Mumy, Julie Newmar, Barbara Nichols, Leonard Nimoy,
Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Janice Rule, William Shatner, Dean
Stockwell, George Takei, Joyce Van Patten, Jack Warden, Jonathan
Winters, and Dick York. Other episodes feature performances by actors
later in their careers, such as Dana Andrews, Joan Blondell, Ann
Blyth, Art Carney, Jack Carson, Gladys Cooper, William Demarest, Andy
Devine, Cedric Hardwicke, Josephine Hutchinson, Buster Keaton, Ida
Lupino, Kevin McCarthy, Burgess Meredith, Agnes Moorehead, Alan
Napier, Franchot Tone, Mickey Rooney, and Ed Wynn.
Character actors who appeared (some more
than once) include John Anderson, John Dehner, Betty Garde, Sandra
Gould, Nancy Kulp, Celia Lovsky, Eve McVeagh, Nehemiah Persoff,
Albert Salmi, Vito Scotti, Olan Soule, Harold J. Stone, and Estelle
Winwood. The actor who appears in the most episodes is Robert McCord.
The first season featured an orchestral
title theme by Herrmann, who also wrote original scores for seven of
the episodes, including the premiere, "Where Is Everybody?".
French avant-garde composer Marius Constant composed the theme used
for the series from the second season onward. Constant's theme is the
more recognizable and the one everyone remembers. The guitar part was
performed by jazz guitarist and session musician Howard Roberts on a
1952 Fender Telecaster. Other music contributors for the original
television show are Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, Nathan Scott,
Fred Steiner, Nathan Van Cleave, René Garriguenc and Franz
Waxman. The Grateful Dead performed the theme for the 1985 revival
series. Jonathan Davis of Korn composed the theme music for the 2002
revival series. Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts composed the music
for the 2019 revival and Jerry Goldsmith composed the music for
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).
Over the years many musicians have written
and performed music based on The Twilight Zone, including: Average
White Band, Dr. John, Iron Maiden, Van Morrison, Rush, The Manhattan
Transfer, The Ventures and John Williams. The Marketts' biggest hit,
"Out of Limits", originally entitled "Outer
Limits", was named after the 1963 TV series The Outer Limits.
Rod Serling sued the Marketts for quoting the four-note motif from
The Twilight Zone, without his approval, which resulted in the change
of the title to "Out of Limits". It reached number 3 on the
Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1964 and sold over one million copies.
The Twlight Zone has found its way into
our popular culture via book, comics and games. In 1964, Ideal
released a board game, The Twilight Zone Game, at the height of the
show's popularity. The game consisted of a cardboard playing surface,
four colored playing pieces, a colored spinning wheel, and 12
"door" playing cards. In 1988, Gigabit Systems, Inc.
published a text adventure video game for Amiga and the PC and in
March 1992, Midway Games released a wide-body pinball game, Twilight
Zone, based on the original TV series. Conceived by Pat Lawlor, it
uses Golden Earring's hit song "Twilight Zone" (1982) as
its theme song. The game sold 15,235 units. On September 17th, 2014,
Legacy Interactive and Spark Plug Games released a casual adventure
game based on The Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling novelized several of his
original scripts, which were published in the anthologies Stories
from the Twilight Zone (1960), More Stories from the Twilight Zone
(1961) and New Stories from the Twilight Zone (1962); these have all
been reprinted several times, including in an omnibus, The Twilight
Zone: Complete Stories (1980). In 1995, DAW Books published the
anthology books Journeys to the Twilight Zone (16 stories edited by
Carol Serling including Rod Serling's "Suggestion"), Return
to the Twilight Zone (18 stories edited by Carol Serling including
Rod Serling's "The Sole Survivor"), and Adventures in the
Twilight Zone (24 stories edited by Carol Serling including Rod
Serling's "Lindemann's Catch"). In September 2009, Tor
Books published Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories to mark the 50th
anniversary of the series. It contains stories by 20 authors such as
R. L. Stine and Timothy Zahn, with an introduction by Carol Serling.
in 1981 and with T. E. D. Klein as editor, The Twilight Zone
Magazine (also known as Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine)
featured horror fiction and to some extent other forms of fantasy and
some borderline science fiction. The Twilight Zone Magazine reviewed
and previewed new movies while publishing articles about The Twilight
Zone original and revival (The New Twilight Zone) television series,
among other cultural oddities. The Twilight Zone Magazine was
initially successful; by 1983 it was selling 125,000 issues a month,
outselling magazines like Analog. Under Klein's editorship, the
magazine published several noted writers, including Harlan Ellison,
Stephen King, Pamela Sargent, and Peter Straub. In late 1985, Michael
Blaine succeeded Klein as editor. From March 1986 until its last
issue of June 1989 the editor was Tappan King. Like Omni Magazine, ,
it was published by a company better-known for "skin"
magazines, Gallery's Montcalm Publishing.
In 2001, Gauntlet Press began publishing
collections of original scripts from The Twilight Zone by Charles
Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and Rod Serling. A ten-volume signed,
limited edition series of all 92 of Rod Serling's scripts, authorized
by his wife, Carol Serling, began yearly publication in 2004. Many of
the scripts contain handwritten edits by Serling himself and differ
in significant ways from the aired versions; most volumes contain an
alternate version of a selected script. The script for "The
Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" has been published into 7th
grade reading books in the form of a play.
Western Publishing published a Twilight
Zone comic book, first providing content under contract to publisher
Dell Comics for four issues, one in 1961 and three further issues in
1962, with the first two published as part of their long-running Four
Color anthology series as issue numbers 1173 and 1288, and then two
further one-shots numbered separately in Dell's unique fashion as
01-860-207 and 12-860-210 (numbered as 01-860-210 on the inside)
respectively. Western then restarted the series under its own Gold
Key imprint with a formal issue No. 1, which ran 92 issues from 1962
to 1979, with the final issue being published in 1982. Several of the
stories were reprinted in their Mystery Comics Digest, which
mentioned the title on the covers. A wide range of artists worked on
the title, including Jack Sparling, Reed Crandall, Lee Elias, George
Evans, Russ Jones, Joe Orlando, Jerry Robinson, Mike Sekowsky, Dan
Spiegle, Frank Thorne, and Alex Toth. The first published comic book
work of artist Frank Miller appeared in issue 84 (June 1978). In
1990, NOW Comics published a new comic series using the title logo
from the 1985 revival. The publisher made great efforts to sign
established sci-fi/fantasy writers, including Harlan Ellison,
adapting his story "Crazy as a Soup Sandwich".
2008, students at the Savannah College of Art and Design partnered
with Walker & Co. to create graphic novels based on eight
episodes of the series. The first four, "Walking Distance",
"The After Hours", "The Monsters Are Due on Maple
Street", and "The Odyssey of Flight 33", were released
in December 2011. The other four were "The Midnight Sun",
"Deaths-Head Revisited", "The Big Tall Wish" and
"Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" Comics publisher
Dynamite Entertainment ran a multiple-issue series, written by J.
Michael Straczynski and with art by Guiu Vilanova, beginning in
Live theatre productions of the original
episodes can be seen in Los Angeles and Seattle, where Theater
Schmeater has continuously produced a late night series, "The
Twilight Zone Live" with permission of the Serling
estate, since 1996. In 2009, Masquerade, A Chennai based theater
group produced 'Dystopia', loosely based on the episodes "The
Obsolete Man" and "Five Characters in Search of an
Exit". Other stage productions have been done by the Penn State
University theatre group, No Refund Theatre, and the Bethesda-Chevy
Chase High School. In 2017 the Almeida Theatre in London staged the
World Premiere production of "The Twilight Zone" based on
stories from the original series by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a
theme park attraction based on the original Twilight Zone series.
Designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, the attraction is present at
Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Walt Disney Studios Park in
Paris and Tokyo DisneySea in Japan. It was 19 years after his death,
Serling returned to "host" the pre-show at "The
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" attraction. Through clever use of
carefully edited vintage The Twilight Zone (1959) footage, new
footage processed in black and white and special additional dialogue
recorded by a Serling soundalike (reportedly selected personally by
Serling's widow, Carol), Serling appears in a Twilight Zone episode
based on the ride's storyline and introduces theme park visitors to
the attraction. This brief introduction, which was shown on a special
vintage television in the attraction's pre-show area, represents the
first "new" introduction of The Twilight Zone that he
appears in since the series' end in 1964.
A fourth attraction at Disney California
Adventure operated from 2004 to 2017 before being re-themed to
Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout!. The attraction in Japan
is the only one not themed to The Twilight Zone, due to cultural
differences and constraints in licensing for the Oriental Land
Company, owner and operator of the Tokyo parks. The ride also served
as the inspiration for the 1997 TV film Tower of Terror, which bears
no connection to the attraction or The Twilight Zone.