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, September 16, This Day in Twilight Zone History wishes happy birthday to legendary Twilight Zone actress Anne Francis, who was born on this day in 1930.
Anne Francis could properly be called one of the Queens of The Twilight Zone because of her two very memorable forays into the fifth dimension. In “The After Hours,” she’s Marsha White, the confused department store shopper trying to purchase a gold thimble on a floor that supposedly doesn’t exist. And she’s just terrific in the role.
Her performance in the fourth-season hour episode “Jess-Belle” is also quite memorable as she plays the spurned dark-haired lover of a backwoodsman (James Best) who, to get her man, makes an unholy pact with a creepy witch (Jeanette Nolan).
Baby boomers discovered Anne in the seminal 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet, in which she practically leaps off the screen as lovely Alta, the brainy only child of Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), master of Robby the Robot (“diamonds will be just fine, Robby”) and the object of Commander Adams’ (Leslie Nielsen) affection. Anne had a big career in television, memorably starring in the short-lived series Honey West, in which she traded Robby in for an ocelot. She died at 80 in 2011, but will always be in our hearts.
Let’s toast one of the queens of The Twilight Zone.