Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2, 1959 and over the course of its five-year run would churn out 156 episodes and cement itself as a classic of science-fiction television. Its influence would be felt in any number of shows and movies that would follow - from The Walking Dead to Stranger Things - and beyond, becoming one of the enduring pop culture staples of its era.
This Day in Twilight Zone History presents key commemorative facts about the greatest science-fiction/fantasy television series of all time, presented by author Steven Jay Rubin, whose latest book is The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia. Whether it's a key performer's birth or death, the date an episode debuted or any other related fact, This Day in Twilight Zone History presents a unique aspect of the rich history of this television series and the extraordinary team that created it.
Today, August 2, we wish a Happy Birthday to a trifecta of Twilight Zone performers.
Gary Merrill was born on this day in 1915. He starred in the atmospheric "Still Valley," portraying a Confederate cavalryman on patrol who happens upon Union troops frozen in their place – victims of a practitioner of the black arts who could change the course of the Civil War. Gary Merrill was, at one time, married to superstar actress Bette Davis, and they both starred in the Best Picture winner of 1950, All About Eve.
Actor Nehemiah Persoff (born in 1919) starred as the mysterious stranger aboard a World War II British freighter in "Judgment Night." His fellow passengers soon begin to wonder why he knows so much about German U-boat tactics.
Last but not least we honor birthday boy and bald-pated Theodore Marcuse (born 1920), who co-starred opposite Joseph Schildkraut in "The Trade-Ins." Marcuse is Farraday, a no-nonsense gambler who invites pain-wracked John Holt (Schildkraut) to play in a high stakes game. The octogenarian needs to double his money so that he and his wife can trade in their old and frail bodies for the buff bodies of twentysomethings.
Every one of the hundreds of people who contributed creatively to The Twilight Zone brought something to the table - don't forget to raise a glass to these three today.