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 5th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the births of two more marvelous TZ character actors: John Hoyt (1905-1991) and Donald Pleasence (1919-1995). Pleasence, the Brit, was relatively new to American audiences when he portrayed private school poetry instructor Professor Ellis Fowler, a man undergoing a crisis of self-worth in “The Changing of the Guard.” Hoyt, the Yank, was in two episodes. In “Changing of the Guard,” he’s the very patrician Dr. Loren, father of Inger Stevens, who enjoys being doted on by a family of robot servants. In “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?,” he’s Ross, the businessman, stranded in a rural diner with a group of fellow bus passengers while local cops determine if an alien is among them.
Pleasence would shortly achieve worldwide acclaim as Colin Blyth, the forger who is slowly going blind in The Great Escape. Post-Boomer audiences will remember him as Dr. Loomis, chasing down Michael Myers in the early Halloween movies. Hoyt was one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Before Deforest Kelly took over the role, Hoyt played the starship Enterprise’s chief medical officer, Dr. Phillip Boyce, in “The Cage,” the pilot episode of the original Star Trek. Let’s toast two treasured veterans of the motion picture and television scene, who brought their classy act to Rod Serling’s dimension of imagination.