This Day in Twilight Zone History: Happy birthday to Ernest Truex ("What You Need," "Kick the Can")

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 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.

Ernest Truex brought his low-key charm to two classic episodes - "What You Need" and "Kick the Can."


    

Today, September 19th, This Day in Twilight Zone History wishes happy birthday to actor Ernest Truex, who was born on this day in the year 1889.  You might not know his name, but the supremely talented Truex starred in two important TZ episodes. 

Pedott (Ernest Truex, left) the giver is eyed by Renard (Steve Cochran) a nefarious taker in "What You Need."

   

In “What You Need,” he’s a kindly peddler named Pedott who, to a small group of bar patrons, seems to know exactly what will change the very fabric of their lives. 

Energetic senior Charles Whitley (Ernest Truex) encourages his fellow senior citizens to engage in a child's game in the timeless "Kick the Can."

   

 In the iconic episode “Kick the Can,” he’s the seemingly ageless Charles Whitley, who finds the fountain of youth in a child’s game.  Truex brought something unique to The Twilight Zone – a kind of low-key, magical dignity – a classy spirit mixed with a little dab of leprechaun. In the years before special effects literally overwhelmed the screen, actors brought their own bag of tricks to their work – often, it was just their face and mannerisms.  Truex, who passed in 1973 at 83, was truly someone special in the magical universe we call The Twilight Zone.