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November 28 in Twilight Zone History: Wishing Happy Birthday to Tim Stafford ('The Bewitchin' Pool')

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Nov 28, 2017

Today, November 28th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of actor Tim Stafford (aka Jeffrey Byron), born on this day in 1955. 

One of the youngest performers ever to appear on The Twilight Zone (he was seven), Stafford co-starred opposite Mary Badham (To Kill a Mockingbird) in "The Bewitchin' Pool," the last episode of the original series to be broadcast.

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Life seems pretty crummy for Sport and Jeb Sharewod (Mary Badham, Tim Stafford) until their family swimming pool turns into a doorway to another dimension in "The Bewitchin' Pool."

Stafford portrayed Jeb Sharewood, the son of two constantly bickering parents (Dee Hartford and Ted Andrews). Jeb and his sister Sport (Badham) long for peace and quiet, and they get it when a straw hat-wearing, Tom Sawyer-like figure named Whitt (Kim Hector) surfaces in their pool and invites them to dive in. They do, and they emerge in another dimension where many children live idyllic lives under the supervision of a kindly matron named Aunt T. (Georgia Simmons). 

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Jeb and Sport Sharewood (Tim Stafford, Mary Badham) follow Whit (Kim Hector, right) to another world of peace and harmony in Earl Hamner, Jr.'s "The Bewitchin' Pool."

Written by Earl Hamner, Jr. this episode is one of the few written from a child's point of view, and it dramatizes how truly toxic a child's world can become when their parents realize they can't stand each other. As I described in my book The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia, Stafford (who, as an adult, has acted, written and produced under the name Jeffrey Byron) has vivid memories of reporting to work at the swimming pool on MGM's back lot... only to discover it infested with crabs.

By the way, that's the same swimming pool featured in "The Trouble with Templeton" and "Queen of the Nile."

So let's hoist a glass of juicy cider to Mr. Stafford-Byron on his birthday, and if you have it, indulge in a big slice of frosted chocolate cake as well.