Today, November 2nd, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of actor Warren Stevens (1919-2012), who starred in the third season episode "Dead Man's Shoes." Stevens plays Nate Bledsoe, a homeless guy who finds the eye-catching shoes of a dead hoodlum, tries them on, and is soon possessed by their late owner.
"Dead Man's Shoes" was one of the TZ episodes that explored the dark side of human existence. Whether they were focusing on a minor hoodlum, a gambler on the run, or, in this case, a homeless guy, Rod Serling and his small team of writers (Charles Beaumont for this episode) were adept at literally putting us in their well-worn shoes. And adding a ton of atmosphere were the city streets of that iconic MGM backlot, George T. Clemens' moody black-and-white photography, and inspired music from the various composers.
I interviewed Warren Stevens back in the day for a Cinefantastique retrospective article on Forbidden Planet. You may recall him as brainy Doc Ostrow in that film, a good friend of Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen). Stevens also appeared in an episode of the TZ revival in 1986, playing Major Whitmore in the episode "A Day in Beaumont."
(I don't speak much about the two series revivals of the Zone. For me, the black-and-white Zone is the only Zone.)
For all the TZ fans near Philadelphia, please join me tonight at 7 at the Barnes and Noble on Rittenhouse Square. I will be signing books and speaking about the show we all love.