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September 30 in Twilight Zone History: Toasting the second season premiere, 'King Nine Will Not Return' (1960)

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Steve Rubin
Sep 30, 2017

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 followed, from The Walking Dead to Stranger Things, becoming one of the enduring pop culture staples of its era and beyond.

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. 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.

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Well known for his comedy work, actor Bob Cummings was also a skilled private pilot and aviation enthusiast who brought tons of realism to his role as Captain Embry in "King Nine Will Not Return."

Today, September 30, This Day in Twilight Zone History toasts the 1960 second season premiere episode, "King Nine Will Not Return." Based on an article that Rod Serling found in his local newspaper, this episode stars comedian Bob Cummings (going the drama route for a change) as a U.S. Army Air Force B-25 pilot who awakens next to his crashed medium bomber and wonders what happened to his crew. It feels like it’s 1943, but that can’t be right ... there's a flight of jets zooming overhead ...

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Actor Bob Cummings, sweating up a storm in "King Nine Will Not Return."

Much of the success of The Twilight Zone was determined by the mood that was set in these wonderful half-hour teleplays. Thanks to some cool – and very rare – location shooting and Cummings' marvelous performance, this episode sizzles with atmosphere. It also takes its time. Kudos to director Buzz Kulik for guiding Cummings through the right beats, to the art department for hauling a real B-25 carcass out to the desert, and to legendary cameraman George T. Clemens for his inventive camerawork. Clemens did for black and white photography what Monet did for water lilies.

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