December 12 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering director Don Medford ('Death Ship')

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Dec 12, 2017

Today, December 12th, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers director Don Medford, who passed away on this day in 2012 at the age of 95. Medford used his well-honed skills to direct five moody episodes: "A Passage for Trumpet," "The Man in the Bottle," "The Mirror," "Deaths-Head Revisited," and "Death Ship."

 Actor Joseph Ruskin portrayed the edgy genie in "The Man in the Bottle."

As you can see, there's no whimsy or laughter in these dark brooding episodes. Even the genie in "The Man in the Bottle" (Joseph Ruskin) has an edge. Drama was Medford's calling card in Hollywood. He cut his teeth on such shows as General Electric Theater, M-Squad and The Detectives (ironically, TZ's competition on Friday nights). He later put his skills to work on such iconic shows as Dr. Kildare, The Fugitive and The F.B.I.

Rod Serling and producer Buck Houghton had a strong team of helmers who brought different skills to the Zone. For the offbeat and unusual, they went to Douglas Heyes ("Eye of the Beholder," "The Invaders"); for old Hollywood slapstick, they reached back into yesteryear and utilized Norman Z. McLeod ("Once Upon an Time"); for strong character pieces, they liked Jack Smight ("The Lonely"); and for dark drama, Medford was one of their favorites.

So let's hoist a cold one to this Detroit native who brought so many great characters to life in that ice-cold dimension we call The Twilight Zone.

Zone veteran Jack Klugman played a despondent trumpet player in the moody "A Passage for Trumpet."