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, August 19, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers makeup artist Charles Gemora, who died on this day in 1961 at the age of 58. Charles handled makeup chores on the Desilu Playhouse production of The Time Element, a riveting time-travel story that is considered the unofficial pilot for The Twilight Zone. Comic actor William Bendix (The Life of Riley) plays a bartender who has a recurring nightmare that he’s at Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941, and can’t convince anyone that an attack by the Japanese is 24 hours away. Time travel was one of Rod Serling’s favorite subgenres of science fiction. Charles Gemora has another place in film history – he portrayed the Martian who terrorizes Gene Barry and Ann Robinson in George Pal’s 1953 classic The War of the Worlds. So here’s to Charles Gemora and the makeup artists who added another dimension to the fascinating world of The Twilight Zone.