Today, February 18, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember actor Jerry Fujikawa and writer Sam Rolfe on the anniversary of their births.
Fujikawa (1912-1983) co-starred as a vehement Japanese army captain in "A Quality of Mercy." It is under the command of Fujikawa's captain that American Army officer Lieutenant Katell (Dean Stockwell) suddenly morphs into a Japanese army lieutenant fighting against Americans in 1942. The Japanese captain wants to wipe out a cave full of exhausted American soldiers, echoing the same command that Katell gave to wipe out a cave full of exhausted Japanese in 1945.
Top television writer and creator Sam Rolfe (1924-1993) wrote "A Quality of Mercy," a Season 3 episode that is similar in tone to Serling's "The Purple Testament." Once again, we're not seeing the typical patriotic Hollywood treatment of war. This is dirty business, and it's easily reflected in the faces of the American soldiers under Katell's command.
Fujikawa would return to TZ as the Japanese delegate to the UN in "To Serve Man." Being in uniform was familiar to him – he was a member of the 442nd Regimental Command Team, the most decorated unit in the U.S. Army in World War II.
Rolfe would later receive an Emmy nomination for producing the first season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It was arguably the show's best season.
So let's raise a glass to these members of the "Quality of Mercy" creative team, in front of the camera and behind, who both found themselves knee-deep in a corner battlefield known as The Twilight Zone.