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. 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 celebrates the birthday of one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the 5th Dimension: Inger Stevens (1934-1970). The stunning Stevens first starred in "The Hitch-Hiker" as Nan Adams, an increasingly nervous woman who is driving cross country and keeps spotting the same hitchhiker along the roadway. This is one of the great TZ episodes, and Stevens is perfectly cast as a woman who is starting to get unglued every time she spots this creepy guy (Leonard Strong) thumbing his way west. Serling and producer Buck Houghton were so enamored with Stevens' performance that they cast her in the second season episode "The Lateness of the Hour," in which she plays Jana, the only daughter of a well-to-do couple (John Hoyt, Irene Tedrow) who are enjoying the fact that they are being doted upon by a servant staff of robots.
So good in TZ and movies such as Madigan and Hang 'Em High, Stevens passed away from a drug overdose at 35. She will always be remembered in our hearts as a stellar presence on The Twilight Zone.