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May 4 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering producer Buck Houghton

Contributed by
May 4, 2018

Today, May 4th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the birth of producer Buck Houghton, who was born on this day in 1915.

Buck is truly one of the unsung heroes of The Twilight Zone. It was Houghton, already a veteran producer, who chose MGM to be the base of operations for the show in 1959. It was a stroke of genius because not only did MGM have the most backlots of any studio – providing the show with innumerable settings and backdrops – it also had the largest payroll of cast and crew in Hollywood. Because of Houghton's brilliance, the show tapped into the best and brightest actors and technicians available.

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Buck Houghton (left) with producer Edward Lewis (right)

When CBS programming chief James Aubrey canceled the show after three seasons – only to bring it back as a mid-season hour show – Houghton had to jump ship, taking on the producer role on The Richard Boone Show. He was replaced by Herbert Hirschman.

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Producer Buck Houghton (center) with director Robert Altman (left).

Archible Ernest 'Buck' Houghton, Jr. (1915-1999) was a Denver, Colorado native and a UCLA graduate in economics and English. During World War II, he made propaganda films for the U.S. Office of War Information.

His first big break was landing a story editor job on the popular TV anthology Schlitz Playhouse, which was terrific preparation for his duties on the Zone. Houghton later wrote the seminal producing book, What a Producer Does: The Art of Moviemaking, which is still considered a Bible for the business.

So on the anniversary of his birth, let's give some loud applause to a producing genius – a tall man, with an equally tall reputation – who one day stepped through Rod Serling's office doorway and left one amazing legacy on The Twilight Zone.