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March 10 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1961 premiere of 'Static'

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Mar 10, 2018

Today, March 10, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "Static."

Academy Award-winning actor Dean Jagger stars as grumpy Ed Lindsay, a senior boarding house resident who seems to hate the modern world. The only time he softens is when he recovers his old console radio from the basement, sets it up in his room, and amazingly discovers ancient programming that sounds like it's being broadcast in real time. Suddenly jubilant, he invites Vinnie Brown (Carmen Mathews), a charming lady resident of the house, to hear the programs, but all she hears is static.

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There are very few reasons for Ed Lindsay (Dean Jagger) to smile these days - until he sets up his console radio and begins to hear broadcasts from the 1930s.

Dean Jagger was another wonderful and quite versatile character actor who could project both tremendous warmth (just watch him in his Academy Award-winning role as U.S. Army Air Corps major Harvey Stovall in Twelve O'Clock High) and great menace to the screen (the sheepherder Harry Burleigh opposite Alan Ladd and Olivia de Havilland in The Proud Rebel).

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Magical radio broadcasts from a bygone era seem to break the ice for Ed Lindsay (Dean Jagger) and Vinnie Brown (Carmen Mathews) in "Static."

Carmen Mathews (1911-1995) made her television debut opposite Peggy Ann Garner and Howard Smith ("Push, Push, Push") in the "Once to Every Boy" episode of Chevrolet Tele-Theatre (1950). She was also later featured in Butterfield 8 and Sounder, among others.

Keep an eye out for young Stephen Talbot, who helps Ed retrieve his radio – Talbot later played Theodore Cleaver's friend Gibert on Leave It to Beaver. And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the voice of Bob Crane (TV's Hogan from Hogan's Heroes) – he's one of the radio announcers.

So let's toast the forgotten era of classic radio, the softening of Ed Lindsay, and a special audio corner of The Twilight Zone.