This Day in Twilight Zone History: Happy birthday to Jack Warden ("The Lonely," "The Mighty Casey")

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Sep 18, 2017

 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.

Corey (Jack Warden, right) receives rare visitors to his prison asteroid in "The Lonely."


    

Today, September 18th, This Day in Twilight Zone History wishes happy birthday to a true cleanup hitter in the TZ lineup and the cat’s meow of character actors: Jack Warden, born on this day in 1920.  Warden starred in two popular episodes – in "The Lonely," he’s convict James A. Corey, imprisoned on a distant asteroid and about to go stir crazy when a sympathetic space jockey (John Dehner) brings him a very special gift.  Warden is just wonderful in this iconic TZ role.  And, once again, the inimitable Rod Serling fashions a terrific story twist.

Jack Warden as forever frustrated baseball manager Mouth McGarry in "The Mighty Casey."

     

Warden returned in the first season baseball episode "The Mighty Casey" – portraying manager Mouth McGarry, the man in charge of the woeful Hoboken Zephyrs, who, desperate to win a ball game, recruits a robot pitcher (Robert Sorrells) with a fireball arm.  As many of you know, Warden was a last minute replacement for Paul Douglas, who filmed this episode while deathly ill and who died shortly thereafter. His footage was deemed unusable, thus Warden pinch hit – and perfectly conveyed the frustration, then elation of McGarry. 

Jack Warden (left), Abraham Sofaer and Robert Sorrels in "The Mighty Casey."

     

Warden, himself, passed at age 85 in 2006, after many film and TV performances. One of which I am particularly fond is the part of LA Rams football trainer Max Corkle in Warren Beatty’s delightful Heaven Can Wait, but he was also remarkable as Juror #7 – the man with the Yankee tickets burning a hole in his pocket - in 12 Angry Men. Let us toast the gifted Jack Warden - one of the superstars of The Twilight Zone.