January 11 in Twilight Zone History: Wishing Happy Birthday to actor Wright King ('Shadow Play')

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Jan 11, 2018

Today, January 11th, This Day in Twilight Zone History wishes Happy Birthday to actor Wright King, who turns 95 today.

King co-starred in two TZ episodes. In "Shadow Play," he's sympathetic newspaper editor Paul Carson, a man who believes condemned prisoner Adam Grant (Dennis Weaver) when he says he's reliving the nightmare of execution every day.

Newspaperman Paul Carson (Wright King, left) tries to convince a disbelieving D.A. Henry Riohie (Harry Townes) that condemned prisoner Adam Grant (Dennis Weaver) is re-experiencing his trial and execution every day in "Shadow Play." 

King returned in the fourth season one-hour episode "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville," playing three versions of elderly custodian Hecate, a man dealing with a bored robber baron (Albert Salmi) who has made a pact with the Devil (Julie Newmar) to start his business life over in the hometown where he made his fortune.

I love telling the story in my book that King knew at an early age that he wanted to be an actor, and after attending the local premiere of Gone With the Wind in 1939, he accurately predicted that he would kiss Vivien Leigh on camera some day (which he did in A Streetcar Named Desire).

Time traveling robber baron William Feathersmith (Albert Salmi, left) returns to his hometown and meets Hecate (Wright King, right), his future janitor in "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville."

A native of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, King later portrayed Steve McQueen's sidekick Jason Nichols in nine episodes of Wanted: Dead or Alive, and in the original Planet of the Apes, he donned ape makeup and played Dr. Galen, the chimpanzee who saves Charlton Heston's life ("This human has lost a lot of blood.").

So let's all sing to Mr. King and savor his distinctive character moments in two vibrant corners of The Twilight Zone.