Today, April 13th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1962 premiere of "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby."
Rod Serling took a rare step into comedy in this episode, which stars legendary Hollywood western actor Andy Devine as Somerset Frisby, the king of the whoppers. And we're not talking Burger King here. Frisby just loves to embellish story after story about his past exploits, including his service in the Balloon Corps in World War I, leading the D-Day invasion, and inventing rear-engine cars and spaceships.
Unfortunately for Frisby, alien invaders mistake him for an Einstein type figure who needs studying...
His friends who sit around Frisby's general store include Dabbs Greer, who would later co-star in "Valley of the Shadow," and the aliens include Milton Selzer, who would later co-star in "The Masks," and Peter Brocco, who played Mr. Marshak in "The Four of Us are Dying."
Lamont Johnson directed this wacky episode... and like most of the comedies on The Twilight Zone, it doesn't exactly register off the charts. But it's fun seeing the raspy-voiced Devine (1905-1977) as a lead. His career goes all the way back to Hollywood's silent era. His TV break came when he was cast as Deputy Marshal Jingles P. Jones opposite Guy Madison in Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok.
So let's raise a glass of barrel-aged cider to Somerset Frisby, the career of Andy Devine, and the true art of storytelling, perfected in classic fashion on The Twilight Zone.