April 6 in Twilight Zone History: Happy Birthday to actors Peter Mark Richman and Barry Nelson

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Apr 16, 2018, 5:00 PM EDT

Today, April 16th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember two top TZ actors: Peter Mark Richman, who turns 91 today, and Barry Nelson, who was born on this day in 1917.

In the suspenseful Season 5 episode "The Fear," Richman portrayed a state trooper who investigates an attractive woman's (Hazel Court) rural UFO report. What struck me as effective in this episode was 1) the total believability that a real UFO incident is unfolding, and 2) there seemed to be an underlying sexual tension between these two strangers – unusual for a TZ episode.

Richman's television career continued strongly from the '60s through the '80s. I remember him vividly as a sympathetic Union Army officer in William Wyler’s classic tale of the Civil War, Friendly Persuasion.


Hazel Court and Peter Mark Richman had palpable chemistry in "The Fear."

Barry Nelson starred in the Season 5 episode, "Stopover In a Quiet Town," in which married couple Bob and Millie Frazier (Nelson, Nancy Malone) wake up in a strange bedroom, suffering from hangovers. They don't recognize the room, or the house, or the town – and they keep encountering fakery: fake cabinets, fake food in the refrigerator, fake phone, and, outside, a fake squirrel and tree. The whole town is empty (shades of "Where is Everybody?"), but they do hear the occasional giggle of a little girl.


Bob and Millie Frazier (Barry Nelson, Nancy Malone) discover fake bread in the refrigerator of a strange kitchen, in a strange house, in a strange town in the riveting 5th season episode "Stopover in a Quiet Town."

Nelson is the answer to a great trivia question: Name the actor who was the first to play James Bond? It was Nelson in a 1954 live television broadcast of Casino Royale on CBS's Climax Theater. He didn’t play him as British, though – his nickname is "Card Sense" Jimmy Bond, a Yank. Nelson was also the no-nonsense pilot of a stricken jetliner in the 1970 megahit Airport.

So let's raise a toast to two top thespians, working at the top of their game on the show that was mostly always at the top of its game, The Twilight Zone.

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