Today, May 14, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember actor Richard Deacon on the anniversary of his birth in 1922.
A character actor who was comfortable as a pompous boor, an officious administrator, or a holier-than-thou type, Deacon plays all three as Wallace V. Whipple in "The Brain Center at Whipple's." In an episode that is infinitely more timely today, Whipple has decided to replace his whole workforce with computers and robots. He's embracing the future and he doesn't give a ding about the human consequences. Where haven't we heard that lately?
Richard Deacon (1922-1984), perpetually balding (to quote Marty McFly in Back to the Future, when he sees vice principal Strickland in 1955, "Did he ever have hair?"), had a full career in film and television. Like Rod Serling, he grew up in Binghamton, New York, and he made his first big splash as producer Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
We Boomers also remember him as Lumpy Rutherford's pompous dad Fred in Leave It to Beaver. I remember him yelling out questions as a reporter in Them!; he's also the emergency room doctor in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and an uncredited MP in Invaders From Mars. He also informed Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) that Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) is not at home when she attempts to leave some love birds at his apartment in The Birds.
Deacon was, indeed, character actor gold on both the small and big screens.
So let's hoist a tall one to Richard Deacon and another world that Rod Serling predicted where human beings tiptoe quietly into the darkness while machines inherit the earth – a world that is hopefully confined to the city limits of The Twilight Zone.