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November 6 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1959 premiere of 'Escape Clause'

Contributed by
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Steve Rubin
Nov 6, 2017

Today, November 6th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1959 debut of "Escape Clause."

Once again, Rod Serling gave a wonderful opportunity to a popular supporting actor to take command of the small screen – in this case, David Wayne, portraying Walter Bedeker, the ultimate hypochondriac. Bedeker is so concerned about his well-being that he makes a pact with a certain Mr. Cadwallader, aka the Devil (the always delightful Thomas Gomez), trading his soul for immortality, which in Bedeker's case is probably freedom from the Common Cold.

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Walter Bedeker (David Wayne, right) sells his soul to Mr. Cadwallader (Thomas Gomez, left) for immortality in "Escape Clause." 

Cadwallader agrees to the tradeoff. But like all wishes, pacts, contracts, promises and hopes on The Twilight Zone, there's a flaw in the system...

This is one of the first episodes to add a touch of comical whimsy to the occasion. Serling was aware that in anthology, you have the opportunity to explore all genres and storylines. It doesn't have to be a scary story or a deadly serious story each week. He was delighted to lighten up the occasion from time to time and the show loved whimsy. There were some episodes that became a little too comic – and pure comedy was not really the show's strong suit. But "Escape Clause" works ever so well.

So! Let's hoist a hot toddy to Walter Bedeker and all his petty concerns... and how they matter little in The Twilight Zone.

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