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 16th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1959 debut of “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” – a pretty odd title for a western episode. Veteran actor Dan Duryea gives a bravura performance as the pitiful Al Denton, a former gunfighter turned town drunk who gets a second chance at life when the mysterious peddler, Henry J. Fate (Malcolm Atterbury), comes to town with an elixir brewed in, where else, The Twilight Zone.
Dan Duryea was another talented actor from the movies who brought his considerable skills to this gritty fable of the Old West. He’s surrounded by a terrific acting ensemble, including Martin Landau making his first TZ appearance as a gunfighter/bully, baby-faced Doug McClure as another gunman, Jeanne Cooper as the barmaid with a soft space in her heart for Denton, and stalwart and gravel-voiced Ken Lynch as the bartender. Let’s hoist a shot glass of rotgut to this gritty slice of TZ life.