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, October 9th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1959 premiere of one of the truly timeless episodes – “One for the Angels.” In this thirty-minute gem, the marvelous Ed Wynn plays kindly sidewalk salesman Lou Bookman, who walks his neighborhood selling everything from silk ties to Robby the Robot toys. Unfortunately, tonight, the Angel of Death (Murray Hamilton) has come to call, and Lou must make one more pitch to save not only his life – but the life of a little neighborhood girl hit by a truck.
This is one of Serling’s most charming scripts, and you wonder if he was inspired by a real life person who used to work the streets of his hometown of Binghamton, NY. Or perhaps he was simply inspired by The Devil and Daniel Webster. In any case, this was the kind of gentle show that propelled the series to its heights in the first season. Kudos to Robert Parrish who directed, and Wynn and Hamilton for their spot-on performances.