April 4 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1963 premiere of 'The New Exhibit'

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Apr 4, 2018

Today, April 4th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate a one-hour gem from Season 4: "The New Exhibit."

TZ veteran Martin Balsam returns to the Zone as wax museum curator Martin Lombard Senescu, a man obsessed with the care of a unique collection of exquisitely rendered replicas of the world's most infamous mass murderers. When the museum shutters, Senescu decides to store the scary wax figures in his basement, which doesn't sit too well with his wife, Emma (Margaret Field), who doesn't relish the thought of doing the laundry in the company of Jack the Ripper, etc.

But scaring his spouse isn't Senescu's only problem – this rogue's gallery of killers may not be as inanimate as most people think...

Mr. Ferguson's (Will Kuluva) decision to shutter his wax museum doesn't sit too well with Martin Senescu (Martin Balsam). His whole life is rapped up in the "Murderer's Row" of figures he curates in "The New Exhibit."

Once again, a truly macabre story sprung from the pen of Charles Beaumont, with an able assist from writer Jerry Sohl (Beaumont, by 1963, was in the throes of early onset Alzheimer's disease). Director John Brahm, one of TZ's best directors, helmed this episode, which showcases Senescu's growing madness and obsession.

Emma Senescu (Margaret Field, left) doesn't quite understand her husband's (Martin Balsam) obsession with his wax figures in "The New Exhibit."

Martin Balsam, who made a career out of playing level-headed, straight-ahead bureaucrats, doctors, military men and family figures, rarely got the opportunity to play whack jobs – and Senescu is a whack job with a capital W. This was his third TZ foray. In the unofficial pilot, "The Time Element," he was William Bendix's psychiatrist, and he portrayed Ida Lupino's agent in "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine." Margaret Field (1922-2011), a Houston native, was the mother of actress Sally Field. For suffering through the company of all those killers, she received a salary of $1,250.

So let's hoist a champagne cocktail to the genius of Charles Beaumont and Jerry Sohl, the atmosphere created by John Brahm, the talent of Balsam, Fields and company, and the very animate world of The Twilight Zone.