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May 23 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1963 premiere of 'The Bard'

Contributed by
May 23, 2018

Today, May 23rd, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1963 premiere of "The Bard."

Comedian Jack Weston, whose TZ debut was a strictly dramatic turn in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," returns as hack television writer Julius Moomer, who can't sell a television show to save his life. Of course, this being The Twilight Zone, he turns to black magic to solve his problems, acquires a book of incantations and manages to summon William Shakespeare (John Williams) to be his ghostwriter.

As they say in the biz, hijinks ensue.

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In "The Bard," you get the impression that William Shakespeare (John Williams, left) would rather be chained to a wall in the Tower of London than spend another moment in the world of modern television. 

Williams, with that patented pained expression, is a perfect counterpart to Weston's brash Moomer. A young Burt Reynolds appears as Rocky Rhodes, a Marlon Brando-esque method actor, and this episode also featured a number of other TZ veterans, including Jason Wingreen as the TV director (he had previously been the conductor in "A Stop at Willoughby" and a fleeing family man in "The Midnight Sun"). John McGiver, who would return to the Zone in "Sounds and Silences," plays his patented phlegmatic TV sponsor, and Doro Merande, a Margaret Hamilton lookalike, plays the bookseller who supplies Moomer with his book of incantations (she's also a huge L.A. Dodgers fan).

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A youthful Burt Reynolds plays method actor Rocky Rhodes in "The Bad." 

So let's raise a toast of warm Elizabethan era beer to Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Moomer, who make a quite uncomfortable team in modern Hollywood, proving that all the world may be a stage... but not in The Twilight Zone.