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, August 9, as most of the world remembers the dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki, we remember actor Ed Nelson, who died on this day in 2014 at the age of 85. In “Valley of the Shadow,” Nelson starred as an intrepid reporter lost on the highway to Albuquerque who drives into a small town to fill up his gas tank and gets more than he bargained for ... a lot more. This was one of the 18 hourlong episodes in the abbreviated fourth season, and anyone who claims that those hours were just too bloated and ineffective should watch this episode. It’s a tension builder with a lot of twists, and a very totally cool supporting cast, which includes David Opatashu, Dabbs Greer, Natalie Trundy, a pre-Star Trek James “Scotty” Doohan, and a young Morgan Brittany, billed as Suzanne Cupito, which was her real name. Many people also remember Ed from the Peyton Place television series, which ran for 514 prime-time episodes from 1964 to 1969.