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 10th, This Day in Twilight Zone History wishes happy birthday to actor Noah Keen, who turns 93 today. Noah portrayed Mr. Vance, the director of the New Life Corporation, who is attempting to sell octogenarians John and Marie Holt (Joseph Schildkraut, Alma Platt) brand new bodies in the terrific third season episode “The Trade-Ins.” The consummate salesman, Vance shows off the new models that turn octogenarians into spring chickens. The only glitch: New bodies cost $5000 each, and Holt only has enough money for one body. Keen had previously appeared in “The Arrival,” portraying Bengston, the airline executive. He didn’t have to sell anything – he just had to figure out what happened to the pilots, passengers and luggage on an airliner that has just landed. Since I had to leave him out of the finished encyclopedia (a question of space), I can tell you that he made $650 for his role in “The Arrival,” and $850 for “The Trade-Ins.” He also made his feature debut opposite fellow TZ vet Anne Francis in Girl of the Night (1960).