Today, June 19th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1964 premiere of "The Bewitchin' Pool," the last original episode of the original series.
Youngsters Sport and Jeb Sharewood (Mary Badham and Jeffrey Byron) are children living in a home ripped apart by the marital difficulties of their parents. One day, a child named Whitt (Kim Hector), who looks like a character out of Tom Sawyer, pops out of their swimming pool, inviting them to join him. They oblige and end up in another dimension where children live happily with a loving caregiver named Aunt T (Georgia Simmons). The worse things get at home, the more times the Sharewood kids keep visiting their new paradise – until there's no reason to return.
Written by Earl Hamner, Jr., this is a disturbing episode dealing with a very common issue that wasn't commonly discussed in prime time – child abuse. Meanwhile, winsome Mary Badham came to the Zone after her amazing performance as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.
When The Twilight Zone was canceled in 1964, there was talk of reviving it on another network, but alas, its death knell was rung. Rod Serling, however, was relieved. After writing 92 of 156 episodes, he needed a break from the grind of not only writing but fighting to keep his show on the air.
So let’s crack open a good bottle of champagne, toasting "The Bewitchin' Pool," the final Twilight Zone episode of 156 – a run of creative brilliance that will never be equaled in the history of television.