Today, March 5th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember actor Gary Merrill, who passed away on this day in 1990 at the age of 74.
Merrill, another Hollywood chameleon, portrayed Confederate sergeant Joseph Paradine in "Still Valley," a weird Civil War story in which Paradine and his sidekick, Private Dauger (Ben Cooper), are sent on a reconnaissance patrol to find advance elements of the Union Army and happen upon a whole group of Federal soldiers frozen in place. What is going on?
That's what Paradine and Dauger want to know until they discover Teague (Vaughn Taylor), a Southern sympathizer who's using a book of black magic to help win the war.
World War II veteran Rod Serling liked to use war stories as backdrops, and "Still Valley" was a perfect example.
Merrill (1915-1990) was one of Hollywood's top character actors. He co-starred opposite Bette Davis in Joseph Mankiewicz's 1950 Best Picture Oscar winner All About Eve and later married Davis. Genre fans remember him as Union journalist Gideon Spilitt in the wonderful Ray Harryhausen effects-laden Mysterious Island. He was also Keith Davenport, the B-17 squadron commander replaced by Gregory Peck in Twelve O’Clock High, the film that won TZ veteran Dean Jagger ("Static") an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
So let's hoist some hardtack and beans to a real pro who brought his best to a truly weird war story located in that odd theater of war called The Twilight Zone.