December 3 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering actor John Archer ('Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?')

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Dec 3, 2017

Today, December 3, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers actor John Archer, who passed away on this day in 1999 at 84.

Archer (1915-1999) co-starred as State Trooper Bill Padgett in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" Along with fellow trooper Dan Perry (Morgan Jones), Padgett has entered the rural Hi-Way Cafe on the trail of what could be a visitor from another planet. Complicating their investigation: There are nine people in the café, eight having just disembarked from a bus – and they all look very human – from wild-eyed Avery (Jack Elam) to voluptuous Ethel McConnell (Jean Willes) to impatient businessman Ross (John Hoyt). Where's Columbo when you need him?

With nine people in a rural diner suspected of being an alien, the tension is palpable for State Trooper Bill Padgett (John Archer) in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up."

Since Archer didn't make the final draft of my book, I can relay the following facts: His salary for the episode was $650. He was a native of Osceola, Nebraska, and arrived in L.A. when he was 5. Born Ralph Bowman, he later entered a talent contest in Hollywood that guaranteed an RKO contract made out in the name of "John Archer." After 13 weeks of competition, Archer won. He later quipped, "I went from a Bowman to an Archer."

A final repartee between State Trooper Bill Padgett (John Archer) and dancer Ethel McConnell (Jean Willis) in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up."

Archer made his television debut opposite his wife, actress Marjorie Lord (Make Room for Daddy), in "The Real Thing" episode of Your Show Time, a dramatic anthology series (1949). He's also the father of Oscar-nominated actress Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction).

Let's hoist a diner soda to Archer, another sharp-shooting actor, working squarely in the bullseye of The Twilight Zone.