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August 12 in Twilight Zone History: Happy Birthday to the Hitch-Hiker and Mr. Push Push Push

Contributed by
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Steve Rubin
Aug 12, 2017

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. 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, August 12th, we wish Happy Birthday to two memorable Zone character actors: Leonard Strong (born 1908) and Howard Smith (born 1893).

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Leonard Strong and Inger Stevens in "The Hitch-Hiker."

Strong struck a resonate note as the title character in "The Hitch-Hiker," a mysterious ride-thumber who always appears ahead of Inger Stevens' Nan Adams, no matter how fast or how far she drives.

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James Daly is tormented by Howard Smith in "A Stop at Willoughby."

Meanwhile, Smith was memorable as Mr. Misrell, the man with the "push, push, push" work philosophy, an overbearing advertising agency boss who drives James Daly's Gart Williams to the brink of insanity in "A Stop at Willoughby."

It's the small character parts like these, and the wonderfully talented character actors who played them, that makes The Twilight Zone the timeless classic it is.

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