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May 23 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1963 premiere of 'The Bard'

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May 23, 2018, 5:02 PM EDT (Updated)

Today, May 23rd, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1963 premiere of "The Bard."

Comedian Jack Weston, whose TZ debut was a strictly dramatic turn in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," returns as hack television writer Julius Moomer, who can't sell a television show to save his life. Of course, this being The Twilight Zone, he turns to black magic to solve his problems, acquires a book of incantations and manages to summon William Shakespeare (John Williams) to be his ghostwriter.

As they say in the biz, hijinks ensue.

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In "The Bard," you get the impression that William Shakespeare (John Williams, left) would rather be chained to a wall in the Tower of London than spend another moment in the world of modern television. 

Williams, with that patented pained expression, is a perfect counterpart to Weston's brash Moomer. A young Burt Reynolds appears as Rocky Rhodes, a Marlon Brando-esque method actor, and this episode also featured a number of other TZ veterans, including Jason Wingreen as the TV director (he had previously been the conductor in "A Stop at Willoughby" and a fleeing family man in "The Midnight Sun"). John McGiver, who would return to the Zone in "Sounds and Silences," plays his patented phlegmatic TV sponsor, and Doro Merande, a Margaret Hamilton lookalike, plays the bookseller who supplies Moomer with his book of incantations (she's also a huge L.A. Dodgers fan).

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A youthful Burt Reynolds plays method actor Rocky Rhodes in "The Bad." 

So let's raise a toast of warm Elizabethan era beer to Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Moomer, who make a quite uncomfortable team in modern Hollywood, proving that all the world may be a stage... but not in The Twilight Zone.

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