January 20 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1961 premiere of 'The Whole Truth'

Contributed by
Jan 21, 2018, 3:19 PM EST (Updated)

Today, January 20th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "The Whole Truth."

Arguably the first comedic episode of The Twilight Zone, "The Whole Truth" stars Jack Carson as smarmy Harvey Hunnicut, a used car salesman who purchases a Model A Ford from an elderly gentleman (Lassie's George Chandler) for $25. The owner says the car is haunted, but Hunnicut soon learns it's a four-wheel truth serum. And telling the truth is literally the last thing he wants to be doing.


Versatile Jack Carson made a career of playing comical characters and second bananas. His total skill set is on display in "The Whole Truth."

"The Whole Truth" is, unfortunately, one of the six episodes that, to save costs, were shot on videotape in the second season. And of the six, this is the one episode that really needed a film presentation. As I've mentioned before, CBS programming chief James Aubrey was determined to cut Rod Serling's weekly production budget (probably because the show's ratings were anemic).

That said, "The Whole Truth" has some pluses – Jack Carson was born to play Harvey Hunnicut. His long Hollywood career dates back to the 1930s with film classics like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Sadly, two years after the Zone, he was dead at 52.


Harvey Hunnicut (Jack Carson, left) is all smiles as he tries to dupe another customer (Jack Ging) into buying a used car in "The Whole Truth." 

So let’s hoist an afternoon cocktail to a truly unusual automobile, the spirit of Jack Carson and "The Whole Truth" he spread in a comedy corner of The Twilight Zone.