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 6, we remember two acting legends: Everett Sloane, who passed away at age 55 on this day in 1965, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, who died at 81 in 1964.
Sloane starred in "The Fever" as tightwad husband Franklin Gibbs, literally the last man on Earth who would think of putting money in a slot machine. However, when a drunk grabs him and literally forces him to place a silver dollar in a one-armed bandit, Sloane becomes possessed, hearing the persistent sound of the slot machine calling to him at all hours.
Sloane was a good luck charm for Rod Serling – he had starred in Serling's legendary Patterns live drama, which was a sensation when it debuted in 1955.
Sir Cedric Hardwicke, with that amazingly deep voice and British accent, usually played sympathetic roles (the Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments, King Arthur in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Carl Strolin, the Mayor of Leipzig in The Desert Fox), but in "Uncle Simon," he's an impossibly demanding curmudgeon who drives his niece Barbara (Constance Ford) crazy with his smug, insulting attitude. He's also an ingenious inventor who has a stunning surprise for Barbara when he kicks the bucket.
Getting actors of the quality of Sloane and Hardwicke was truly a coup for Rod Serling and company. Then again, everyone wanted to be in a Twilight Zone episode – it was a badge of rank back in the day.