Today, April 29th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1960 premiere of the first season's "Nightmare as a Child."
Janice Rule stars as school teacher Helen Foley, who was horribly traumatized as a child when she saw her mother brutally strangled. One day she's visited by a charming little girl (Terry Burnham) who claims her name is Markie and that she wants to share her secrets. Helen doesn't know what to make of her until she reveals that she's really Helen – a very young Helen coming to her rescue.
Incidentally, the name 'Helen Foley' was inspired by Rod Serling's favorite junior high school English teacher back in Binghamton.
This was also another example of Serling taking on a taboo topic – in this case, child endangerment. Janice Rule (1931-2003), one of Hollywood’s top actresses, brings plenty of talent to the role of Helen, and young Terry Burnham (1949-2013) is terrific as the messenger from the past. Interestingly, after she retired from acting, Rule became a successful Manhattan psychotherapist – and she was married to actor Ben Gazzara for 20 years.
Oh, and Morgan Brittany (aka Suzanne Cupito) has a small cameo as another child in Helen's building.
So let's hoist a cup of tea to Janice Rule and Terry Burnham, two halves of the same coin who jingled their acting coins in that great universal bank of talent we call The Twilight Zone.