Today, March 23rd, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1962 premiere of "Person or Persons Unknown."
Handsome television actor Richard Long stars as David Andrew Gurney, a bank executive who wakes up one morning with a wife (Shirley Ballard) who no longer recognizes him. When he goes to his bank job, no one recognizes him either; even his favorite bartender (and this is a day he could really use a drink) thinks he's a total stranger.
Even though this episode was written by Charles Beaumont, "Person or Persons Unknown" has the imprint of Rod Serling all over it, because Rod's favorite movie was It's a Wonderful Life. David Gurney is simply a more polished version of George Bailey – a man who is suddenly stripped of his identity. Of course, in this digital age of identify theft and computer fraud, we could all be a few clicks away from the predicament of David Gurney.
Richard Long is solid as the victim who's one step ahead of the men with straight jackets and would return in Season 5 playing multiple characters in the futuristic "Number 12 Looks Just Like You." And John Brahm, one of TZ's prolific helmers, gives this episode the required suspense.
So let's hoist one to another timeless TZ episode that focused on stolen identity, decades before it became a daily occurrence – bringing us all closer to our own personal Twilight Zone.