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.
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.
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.