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March 1 in Twilight Zone History: Birthday wishes to Joan Hackett, Ron Howard and writer/director Montgomery Pittman

Contributed by
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Steve Rubin
Mar 1, 2018

Today, March 1st, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the births of another TZ trifecta: actress Joan Hackett ("A Piano in the House"), actor Ron Howard ("Walking Distance") and writer/director Montgomery Pittman ("The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank").

Hackett (1934-1983) played quietly beautiful Esther Fortune in "A Piano in the House," a woman who must have been on mushrooms when she married acid-tongued theater critic Fitzgerald Fortune (Barry Morse). However, her revenge is coming in the form of a birthday gift – a truth serum-delivering player piano. Hackett was later nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Only When I Laugh.

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Lovely Joan Hackett died way too young - from ovarian cancer at 49. We lost a good one.

Ron Howard, one of America’s most celebrated film directors today (helming the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story), had what amounted to a little cameo in "Walking Distance," playing the marble-playing Wilcox boy, who points out Martin Sloan's house. His acting career would soon burst forth with his role as impish Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.

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Before The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, let alone a magnificent directing career, Ron Howard made little more than a cameo appearance in "Walking Distance." 

Montgomery Pittman (1917-1962) was a creative force on TZ, writing and directing "Two," "The Grave" and "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank," and directing "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up" and "Dead Man's Shoes." Sadly, he lost a battle with cancer at age 45.

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Before his writing and directing career, Montgomery Pittman came to Hollywood as an actor. Like Hackett, we lost him way too early: at 45, also to cancer.

So let's hoist two cocktails and a glass of milk to a big range of talent that provided plenty of calories on the bountiful buffet table we call The Twilight Zone.

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