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 -- (debuting this month). 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 21, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers character actor Milton Selzer, who passed away on this day at the age of 87 in 2006. Selzer was another one of those great TZ actors whose name you can never remember, but whose face you never forget. In the creepy fifth-season episode “The Masks,” he portrays pompous art book dealer Wilfred Harper, who arrives in New Orleans with his equally pompous family to wait for his father-in-law (Robert Keith) to die – and hopefully leave salivating Wilfred and his kin his vast fortune. Daddy’s one request: that they wear strange, horrifiying masks in the last few hours of his life.
Actress Ida Lupino – who had starred in the first-season episode “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” moved to the other side of the camera and became the only woman to direct a TZ episode with “The Masks.” Brilliantly prepared, and intensely focused, she delivered a truly memorable episode. Selzer became part of the fabric of many films and television shows – always bringing his unique presence and believability, perfected on the live television stage.