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August 13 in Twilight Zone History: Happy Birthday to Hollywood tough guy Neville Brand ('The Encounter')

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Aug 13, 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 13th, we wish Happy Birthday to Hollywood tough guy Neville Brand, who was born on this day in 1920 and starred in perhaps the most controversial episode of the entire series: "The Encounter." Brand plays a boozy U.S. Marine veteran of World War II who invites his likable Japanese-American gardener (George Takei) up to his attic for a beer... and a strange journey back to the horrors of war in the Pacific.

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George Takei and Neville Brand in "The Encounter."

Because at one point the gardener indicates that his father guided Japanese planes to targets at Pearl Harbor, the episode was eventually pulled from the syndication package and never aired again. CBS executives were concerned about protests from the Japanese-American community — and rightfully so.

About the time he was doing the Zone, Neville Brand was also winning plaudits as Al Capone on The Untouchables. Let us salute this dedicated, intense actor, who was a World War II U.S. Army veteran in real life as well and brought his A-game to The Twilight Zone.