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January 5 in Twilight Zone History: Wishing Happy Birthday to Robert Duvall ('Miniature')

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Jan 5, 2018

Today, January 5th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of actor Robert Duvall ("Miniature"), born on this day in 1931.

One of Hollywood's most celebrated thespians of the past half century, Duvall made a strong impression in his starring role in the one-hour "Miniature," playing gentle accountant Charley Parkes, a man who falls in love with a museum miniature.

Casting Duvall was a major coup for The Twilight Zone. He was fresh off of his amazing performance as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, and he brought a lot of that almost ethereal presence to the role of Charley Parkes.

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Robert Duvall's performance as  Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird helped launch his career as one of Hollywood's most durable character actors. 

It's funny, the Robert Duvall of today is generally cast as grouchy westerners, with an acerbic wit and an ornery personality. Between Boo and Charley, that Duvall was the exact opposite – a soft, spoken, virginal presence who is the ultimate square peg.  When I interviewed him over the phone a few years ago, he had only two things to say about "Miniature": he remembered being flown out from NYC, and recalled director Walter Grauman. Nothing more.

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Actress Claire Griswold played the target of Charley Parkes' (Robert Duvall) affection in "Miniature." In real life, she was married to director Sydney Pollack.

Duvall has been nominated for seven Oscars for acting, winning in 1984 for Tender Mercies. Of course, we also know him for his solid performance as lawyer Tom Hagen in The Godfather films and in Apocalypse Now he coined one of the great movie lines of all time: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

So here's to Robert Duvall, who gave an outsized performance in "Miniature" and forever found his place in our hearts and The Twilight Zone.