Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone premiered on October 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 presents 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 (arriving this October). 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 presents a unique aspect of the rich history of this television series and the extraordinary team that created it.
Today, This Day in Twilight Zone History wishes happy birthday to superstar actor/director/producer, Sundance Film Festival king and Academy Award winner Robert Redford, who was born on this day in 1936. Fans will remember him as the police officer, apparently wounded in a shootout, who shows up at Gladys Cooper’s about-to-be-demolished NYC tenement door in “Nothing in the Dark.” She’s convinced that this charming law enforcement officer is none other than the Angel of Death. Redford had recently co-starred as a Nazi officer (yes, you heard me right) in the Playhouse 90 episode “In the Presence of Mine Enemies” written by Rod Serling.
A working actor in television, he was still seven years from his breakout performance as the Sundance Kid, opposite Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). So, amongst its many accomplishments, The Twilight Zone was also a launching pad for future superstars.