Today, April 8th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate a real groundbreaker – the 1960 premiere of “The Big Tall Wish.”
Ivan Dixon stars in this memorable episode as washed-up boxer Bolie Jackson, who loves Frances Temple (Kim Hamilton) and her young son, Henry (Steven Perry). However, he's still headed for a pounding when Henry makes a "big tall wish" that Bolie win his fight. And, miraculously, Bolie emerges victorious.
However, this isn't Rocky, it's The Twilight Zone, so Bolie isn't exactly happy about this supernatural assist...
What was extraordinary about this episode was that Serling cast African American actors in all the lead roles – something that had been done with Amos 'n Andy back in 1951 but was extremely rare in prime time in 1960. Interestingly, boxing pro Archie Moore was first cast as Bolie but he couldn't keep up with the pace of production and he was replaced by Dixon, who returned as the priest in "I Am the Night – Color Me Black."
Rod Serling was way ahead of his time in tackling these kinds of stories. He was a great champion of equal rights for all races, and would be very frustrated today with the racism that still exists in his native land.
Oh, and if the music seems particularly good in this episode, it's because a young Jerry Goldsmith was in charge.
So let's raise a toast to wish provider Henry Temple, his idol Bolie Jackson, and the courage and fortitude of Rod Serling, a man who keeps pounding roadblocks after the bell in the illuminated ring we call The Twilight Zone.