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November 16 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the birth of TZ icon Burgess Meredith

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Steve Rubin
Nov 16, 2017

Today, November 16, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of TZ legend Burgess Meredith (1907-1997), who starred in no less than four episodes: "Time Enough at Last," "Mr. Dingle, the Strong," "The Obsolete Man," and "Printer’s Devil."

Meredith was terrific in all of them, but "Time Enough at Last" stands out as my personal favorite episode in the entire series. As we all know, he plays gentle, book-obsessed bank teller Henry Bemis, a sweet man who just wants to read every minute of the day. However, his boss (Vaughn Taylor) won't allow his obsession to interfere with his bank-telling duties, and his thoughtless wife (Jacqueline deWit) does things like take his favorite book of poetry and cross out all the lines. 

So where does little Henry find solace? In the bank vault, of course – every day at noon, he goes in there and closes the door and for a few choice minutes, he can read to his heart's content. And of course, being in a steel-enclosed bank vault does have its advantages ...

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Burgess Meredith returned in the "Mr. Dingle, the Strong" episode as a mild-mannered vacuum cleaner salesman who suddenly becomes the strongest man in the world. 

Meredith may be better known for his roles as the crafty Penguin on the goofy ABC Batman series and as Rocky Balboa's crusty manager Mickey, but his work on The Twilight Zone stands out as wonderful and timeless. Although he played leads back in the 1930s and '40s, most memorably as war correspondent Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), Meredith became a supporting character actor for much of his career.  The Twilight Zone, however, gave him leads, and he grabbed them for all they were worth. For years afterward, he would always say he got more attention for "Time Enough at Last" than any other role he ever did.

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Meredith played an enthusiastic type-setting Satan in the 4th season one-hour episode "Printer's Devil."

So let us hoist a glass of warm milk to the many extraordinary faces of Burgess Meredith: Henry Bemis, Luther Dingle, Romney Wordsworth, and even the Devil – faces that will live forever in The Twilight Zone.

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