Happy New Year, everyone! Today, January 1st, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of one of Hollywood's most popular actors of the 1940s and '50s: Dana Andrews, born on this day in 1909.
Andrews (1909-1992) starred in what was probably the ultimate TZ time travel episode: the one-hour "No Time Like the Past." He plays Paul Driscoll, a determined time traveler, who three times tries to change history for the better, but fails miserably each time. Cynical and decidedly determined to leave the misery of the late 20th century, he heads back to what he believes will be his nirvana: Homeville, Indiana in the year 1881.
Traveling into a seemingly peaceful era that we've previously seen glimpses of in "A Stop at Willoughby" and "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville," Driscoll checks into a rooming house and meets a very attractive school teacher (Patricia Breslin) – but this is The Twilight Zone where nirvanas have a tendency to flip, and Driscoll soon finds out that when it comes to finding peace in history, you can run but you can't hide.
Andrews first came to major prominence during World War II when he starred in a number of solid, well-directed films like The Ox-Bow Incident, Laura and A Walk in the Sun. But his most resonant role was that of returning World War II flyer Fred Derry in William Wyler's 1946 Best Picture winner The Best Years of Our Lives, which contains an amazing sequence where way-down-on-his-luck Fred pays a cathartic visit to an airplane graveyard. It is one of the great movie scenes of all time. Genre fans will also remember him as the disbelieving professor in TZ director Jacques Tourneur's Curse of the Demon.
So as this New Year dawns, let us toast an actor who brought total believability to his many roles and further burnished the reputation of the greatest television series of all time –The Twilight Zone.