Today, June 9, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the birth of actor Bob Cummings in 1910.
Cummings, who could play both comic and dramatic roles, took on the decidedly dramatic role of U.S. Army Air Corps pilot James Embry in the first episode of the second season, "King Nine Will Not Return." It is a disoriented Embry who wakes up in the Sahara next to the carcass of his downed B-25 with nary a crew member in sight.
What's even more disorienting is that flight of jets zooming overhead. What's going on? This can't be World War II... or is it?
Rod Serling based this cool episode on a newspaper article that described the 1958 discovery of a downed B-24 – the Lady Be Good in the Libyan Desert – in perfect condition but with no evidence of its crew.
Cummings (1910-1990) was perfect casting. Not only was he one of the first Americans to secure a private pilot's license, but his godfather was none other than Orville Wright (he was cousins with the Wrights). At that time, Cummings, after a long and successful career in motion pictures, was also a television comedy king, based on the success of his TV series Love That Bob (aka The Bob Cummings Show).
So, on the anniversary of his birth, let's toast a high-flying thespian who donned Air Corps khaki and flew us straight into the perpetual ack-ack of The Twilight Zone.