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Dark Knight Rises

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"There is something on the wing!"

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

THE TWLIGHT ZONE

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 (1951–53) and Science Fiction Theatre (1955–57); radio programs such as The Weird Circle (1943–45), Dimension X (1950–51) and X Minus One (1955–58); 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).

In 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.

The first TV revival (1985–89) 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 2–5). 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. "I’ve thought about how would he feel about this reboot or all this attention he’s getting, and I can tell you that he would be stunned. He didn’t 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 don’t seem to be able to move ahead and change." Even the phrase, "feels like I’m 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 he’s listening to an episode of a true mystery podcast that’s devoted to discussing the disappearance of the very flight he’s 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.

ROD SERLING

Rod 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 J. Serling.

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.

Serling 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 "cleaning up".

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.

Serling 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 early experiences.

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 1948–1949 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 The Waltons.

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".

In 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 Twilight Zone.

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.

Immediately 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 controversial themes."

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 Pearl Harbor.

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.

For 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 final cancellation.

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 commercially available.

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 movie audience.

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 Wayne instead."

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.

Serling 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 1971–1972 season, with McCloud becoming the most popular and longest running of the four lasting seven seasons.

Night 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.

Serling's 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 1988–89 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.

Serling 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.

After 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 and Aiden.

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 ORIGINAL SERIES

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 television, right?"

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 (1962–63) consists of one-hour episodes. Season five returned to the half-hour format.

Being 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.

Beginning 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".

In 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 December 2013.

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 Richard Matheson.

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.

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