This Day in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1964 debut of 'The Old Man in the Cave'

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Today. November 8th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1963 premiere of "The Old Man in the Cave."

In this grimly serious episode, a group of post-apocalyptic survivors is visited by what appears to be a jeep full of armed militia soldiers, intent on restoring order.  However, they come off more like conquerors than saviors. 

TZ veteran John Anderson (left) squares off against newcomer James Coburn in "The Old Man in the Cave."

This Season 5 episode written by Rod Serling combines fresh faces with TZ veterans. The town's leader, Goldsmith, is portrayed by John Anderson, who was making his fourth and final appearance in the Zone, following his memorable turn as Skipper Farver in "The Odyssey of Flight 33." He's joined by John Marley, who previously portrayed by Sunnyvale Senior Rest Home superintendant in "Kick the Can." Film audiences remember him as Jack Woltz, the cocky studio executive who finds a horse head in his bed in The Godfather.

 Charismatic actor James Coburn's star was definitely on the rise. He would soon burst forth as a dapper secret agent in Our Man Flint (1965).

Facing off against these TZ veterans is newcomer James Coburn, who was starting to make waves in the film world with charismatic appearances opposite Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven (as Britt the knife fighter), Henshaw (the bookish fix-all) in Hell is For Heroes, and Sedgewick the Manufacturer in The Great Escape. Given all his heroic roles (Our Man Flint was coming soon), Coburn playing a tyrannical S.O.B. in "The Old Man in the Cave" was a bit unsettling.

Let's raise a glass of pre-apocalyptic beer to new faces and old, all brightening the otherworldly dimensions of The Twilight Zone.

To all TZ fans in New England, I will be signing my Twilight Zone Encyclopedia at the Barnes & Noble in Boston’s Prudential Center on Friday, November 10 at 5:30PM. See you there.