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May 24 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering actor Willis Bouchey on the anniversary of his birth

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May 24, 2018

Today, May 24th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1907 birth of actor Willis Bouchey, who played Sam Thorne, millionaire Jason Foster’s (Robert Keith) doctor in “The Masks.”

Bouchey (1907-1977) is another one of those golden character actors you've seen a million times, but can never remember his name. He was particularly adept at playing authoritarian figures, whether it was in politics, the military or medicine.

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Actor Willis Bouchey was always credible when giving orders, especially as a doctor in "The Masks."

I remember him as Colonel Phil Secord, one of John Wayne's regimental commanders in director John Ford's The Horse Soldiers. John Ford made him a member of the Ford stock company and brought him back in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (as the train conductor who coins the film's title in the last line of the movie) and How the West Was Won as the Union surgeon who fails to save Linus Rawlins (Jimmy Stewart) at Shiloh. He played another doctor in Panic in Year Zero, the one who helps save Frankie Avalon from a gunshot wound. And he's Richard Widmark's superior in Destination Gobi.

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Willis Bouchey (left) was in pretty much everything in the 1950s and 1960s - here seen with another TZ veteran, Robert Lansing. 

I could go on and on and on. So let's raise a high toast to another piece of the TZ puzzle, an actor who could always get the job done, even when it means giving advice to an old man who just isn't interested in living much longer – a typical attitude for Jason Foster, and pretty normal for The Twilight Zone.