Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone premiered on Oct. 2, 1959, and over the course of its five-year run, would churn out 156 episodes and cement itself as a classic of science-fiction television. Its influence would be felt in any number of shows and movies that would follow -- from The Walking Dead to Stranger Things, and beyond -- becoming one of the enduring pop culture staples of its era. This Day in Twilight Zone History features key commemorative facts about the greatest science-fiction/fantasy television series of all time, presented by author Steven Jay Rubin, whose latest book is The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia -- (debuting this month). Whether it’s a key performer’s birth or death, the date an episode debuted, or any other related fact, This Day in Twilight Zone History offers a unique aspect of the rich history of this television series and the extraordinary team that created it.
Today, October 19, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers actor Gig Young, who passed away on this day in 1978 at the age of 64.
Young starred in one of the most poignant of all the TZ episodes, “Walking Distance,” portraying burned-out Manhattan advertising executive Martin Sloan, who while his car is serviced at a rural gas station decides to take a short walk to his hometown.
Whether he’s out for exercise or nostalgia, Sloan gets a severe jolt when he discovers he’s literally walked back in time and it’s 1935 again. Ice cream cones are 10 cents, there’s a band playing on the town green – and a younger version of himself is playing nearby.
Rod Serling loved Binghamton, New York – the town he grew up in – and “Walking Distance” is his homage to that small-town memory. He felt, rightly so, that everyone has a fond memory of some point in their life when things were simpler, problems were fewer, and life was still hopeful.
Sadly, that spirit didn’t impact the real-life Gig Young, who was tormented by demons late in life and committed suicide, taking his young bride with him. But let us still remember the man who walked us back into a special time, and into the classic pages of The Twilight Zone.