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March 2 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1962 premiere of 'To Serve Man'

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Steve Rubin
Mar 2, 2018

Today, March 2nd, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the most startling of all the TZ episodes, 1962's "To Serve Man."

Lloyd Bochner and Susan Cummings portray cryptologists who are assigned to what appears to be the impossible task of deciphering an alien book, inexplicably left behind at the United Nations after aliens arrive on Earth. The seemingly peaceful 7-foot-plus giants are called Kanamits and they're led by actor Richard Kiel's impressive example.

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If you were looking for a seven-foot-plus actor to play a Kanamit in 1962, the talent pool was very small... actually, it was one guy: Richard Kiel was your man.

This was one of those episodes that remained a water cooler discussion topic for decades. Creator Rod Serling and his fine stable of writers were always on the lookout for an O. Henry-style twist to end their half-hours. Well, they hit the jackpot with "To Serve Man."

Richard Kiel was already a steady working actor in Hollywood – he was actually pulling double duty, leaving TZ to continue his work as a giant caveman in Eegah. 15 years later, he would achieve mega-popularity when he portrayed the steel-tooth villain Jaws in the James Bond epic The Spy Who Loved Me, a comical part he reprised in Moonraker.

Canadian actor Lloyd Bochner came to TZ with a wealth of film and TV experience. His son, Hart Bochner, later co-starred in Breaking Away and Die Hard.

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Cryptologist Michael Chambers (Lloyd Bochner) contemplates his fate while on his way to the Kanamit planet in "To Serve Man."

Native German Susan Cumming had just co-starred opposite fellow TZ veteran James Best in Sam Fuller's Verboten.

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 German-born actress Susan Cummings utters what is arguably the most quotable TZ line of all time in "To Serve Man."

So let's raise a glass of Romulan wine to the book to end all books, and the show to end all shows, The Twilight Zone.

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