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, September 7, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers character actor Don Keefer, who passed away on this date in 2014 at 98. Keefer was a ubiquitous presence in films and television, amassing 176 credits in his career, including the part of Hannify, the Honolulu reporter in "The Time Element," considered by many as the unofficial pilot for The Twilight Zone, even though it was broadcast on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, and three notable turns on The Twilight Zone.
His most memorable was in “It’s a Good Life,” in which he played boozy Dan Hollis, who, while celebrating his birthday, forgets himself with a decanter of peach brandy during a party at little Anthony Fremont’s (Billy Mumy) house. And one thing you never do at Anthony Fremont’s house is forget yourself.
Hollis returned as the booking agent who tries to persuade a troubled married couple (Lee Philips, Joyce Van Patten) not to take a sea voyage to England in “Passage of the Lady Anne,” and he’s a frazzled computer programmer in “From Agnes – With Love.” On The Twilight Zone, if Rod Serling liked your performance, it was almost assured that you’d get a return invite to the fifth dimension.