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May 20 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1960 premiere of 'A Passage for Trumpet'

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Steve Rubin
May 20, 2018

Today, May 20, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1960 premiere of "A Passage for Trumpet."

"Passage" features the first of four marvelous Jack Klugman performances that assured his legacy in the Zone pantheon of heroes. Here he's the very melancholy Joey Crown, a horn player who can't get a gig to save his life and has to hock his trumpet for eating money. Finally, down for the count, he decides to end his life by stepping in front of a speeding truck.

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Through a pawn shop window, Joey Crown (Jack Klugman) takes one last look at his horn in "A Passage for Trumpet."

However, what Crown perceives as the end turns out to be the beginning, because, like Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey from Rod Serling's favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life, Joey gets another chance. Helping him along the way is a rather mythic horn player himself.

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Down-on-his-luck horn player Joey Crown (Jack Klugman, left) begins to realize that he's really dead in "A Passage for Trumpet."

Klugman digs deep to give us a terrific performance. He's the epitome of Serling characters – a real man with real fears. Don Medford directed this episode beautifully, and George T. Clemens' black and white photography is just perfect (I don't think you could tell this story in color).

And, ironically, composer Lyn Murray, who wrote the resonant music of this episode, died on this day in 1989 at the age of 79.

So let's raise a toast to Murray's music, Klugman's talent, Serling’s genius, and one terrific high-note trip into the deep recesses of The Twilight Zone.

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