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 5, we wish a Happy Birthday to actress Natalie Trundy, who co-starred in one of the most atmospheric one hour episodes of The Twilight Zone: "Valley of the Shadow." Natalie plays Ellen Marshall, a mysterious hotel proprietor in a very strange isolated town visited by Philip Redfield (Ed Nelson), an inquisitive journalist who stops to fill up his tank and get directions to Albuquerque.
Many people over the years have disparaged the one-hour episodes as being slow, bloated, and not in the same class with the half-hours. However, episodes like "Valley of the Shadow" demonstrate that a good idea can play in an hour if you enlist strong actors and a good director (Perry Lafferty).
In real life, Natalie Trundy was married to producer Arthur P. Jacobs, the man who brought Planet of the Apes to the big screen in 1968... and the man who gave Rod Serling a job as one of the writers on that classic script. Natalie not only appeared in the sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (as one of the mind-controlling mutants), but she returned as a sympathetic animal behaviorist in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, then donned ape makeup as Caesar's consort in both Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle of the Planet of the Apes.
For someone who wasn't that interested in science fiction stories, Natalie got a bellyful in Jacobs' world!