October 6 in Twilight Zone History: 'The Passersby' premieres in 1961

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Mar 26, 2021, 12:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2, 1959, and over the course of its five-year run would churn out 156 episodes and cement itself as a classic of science fiction television. Its influence would be felt in any number of shows and movies that would follow -- from The Walking Dead to Stranger Things -- and beyond, becoming one of the enduring pop culture staples of its era. This Day in Twilight Zone History presents key commemorative facts about the greatest science fiction/fantasy television series of all time, presented by author Steven Jay Rubin, whose latest book is The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia (arriving this October). Whether it’s a key performer’s birth or death, the date an episode debuted, or any other related fact, This Day in Twilight Zone History presents a unique aspect of the rich history of this television series and the extraordinary team that created it.

Today, October 6th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 3rd season premiere of “The Passersby,” a moody episode which debuted on this day in 1961. Joanne Linville and James Gregory starred in this story, which is set at the close of the American Civil War.


As the wounded, war-weary Confederate sergeant, James Gregory was making his second appearance in The Twilight Zone. He was first featured in the premiere episode "Where is Everybody?"

Linville played Lavinia Godwin, a Confederate war widow determined to exact revenge for the death of her husband – Gregory is a weary, wounded rebel sergeant who stops at her home for water and witnesses how the pain of war can twist the very fabric of a human being’s soul.


Joanne Linville portrays troubled Lavinia Godwin, a traumatized Confederate war widow. James Gregory is the sergeant who comes to her house seeking water. 

There are a number of military stories in The Twilight Zone universe – not surprising, since Serling was a traumatized veteran of the paratroops in World War II – but this is one of the more solemn ones, and a kind of ode to the true cost of war.  No trumpets, no waving battle flags, no glory – just a never-ending parade of ghost-like figures – Rebel and Yankee alike – parading past Lavinia’s tiny house. They are “The Passersby.”