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 (arriving this October). 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, Aug. 26, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers character actor Mike Kellin, who died on this day in 1983 at 61. Kellin, a World War II Navy vet, made a career of playing military men, and he played to type as a traumatized modern American sailor who has horrifying nightmares in “The Thirty-Fathom Grave.” If you remember this one-hour episode from the fourth season, you’ll remember the steady clanking that emanates from the hull of a sunken U.S. submarine off the coast of Guadalcanal. As I’ve mentioned before, that clanking sound gave me nightmares as a youngster.
I always enjoyed Kellin’s performances, particularly in two films. In Don Siegel’s Hell Is for Heroes, he’s Colinsky, a U.S. infantry soldier teamed with Harry Guardino and Steve McQueen, who joins the latter on a deadly assault on a German pillbox on the Siegfried Line.
On a significantly lighter note, he’s the resourceful Chief aboard the schooner Echo in the delightful World War II adventure/comedy The Wackiest Ship in the Army, starring Jack Lemmon and Ricky Nelson.
Actors who survived the Great Depression and World War II service always brought something extra to their performances, and that definitely applied to Kellin and The Twilight Zone.