Today, April 28, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "The Silence."
Liam Sullivan stars as motormouth stockbroker Jamie Tennyson, a man who never stops talking in an exclusive men's club, a habit that begins to irritate fellow club member Colonel Archie Taylor (Franchot Tone)... so much so that Taylor bets Tennyson $500,000 that he can't refrain from speaking for a year. Tennyson accepts and moves into a glass apartment in the club's basement – perpetually under the watchful eye of Taylor, who begins to realize that a spontaneous effort to gain some peace and quiet in the club could backfire badly.
This was the first TZ episode I ever watched. Back in '61, I was more apt to watch cartoons than serious prime-time dramatic television, but somehow I remember wandering into the living room when my parents were watching "The Silence." Forget about monsters and murderers; the idea that a man could not speak for a year was pure terror for a 9-year-old. Needless to say, I didn't watch the Zone for years because of that episode.
Fun Fact: Bon vivant Franchot Tone made the wrong move on another man's wife during shooting and got beaten up in the process – so much that he had to be filmed on only one side of his face.
So let's raise an imported club beer to "The Silence," a riveting chapter in the anthology universe and one more timeless journey into The Twilight Zone. And to my L.A. friends, please stop by the Hollywood Show today at the Westin LAX, where I will be signing The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia with a group of TZ vets on hand.