Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serling of `Twilight Zone': Celebration of Life, Work

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serling of `Twilight Zone': Celebration of Life, Work

Article excerpt

'Rod Serling' When: 8 tonight Where: Channel 9

HE STOOD in the murky light of the tiny television screen, teeth tight over his lips, and in a taut, staccato voice, Rod Serling would launch the latest episode in his series, "The Twilight Zone."

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man," he would begin.

These small morality plays set in "the dimension of imagination" were written in the context of science-fiction, often telling us more about ourselves than seemed comfortable in 1962.

The series became one of the most popular ever on television. Holiday weekends are still clustered with "Twilight Zone" marathons, and the show continues to pace the airways in syndication.

Serling, who died 20 years ago of complications following open-heart surgery, was one of the first men to bring timeless writing to the TV medium.

He earned Emmys for "The Twilight Zone," as well as for dramatic TV plays like "Patterns," "Requiem for a Heavyweight," "The Comedians" - all of which were part of TV's live golden age.

To celebrate both the work and the man, PBS offers the biography "Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval" tonight as part of its "American Masters" series.

Serling, a wiry, tough guy who'd once been a Golden Gloves boxer and a veteran of WWII's Pacific campaign, was a very shy man, says Buck Houghton, who produced the first 100 episodes of "The Twilight Zone."

"He was a very complex man, a very nice man, a very cooperative man who had a social conscience that he tried to put into his stories, and who was even-tempered in a high-temper business," says Houghton. "He never believed that he was nearly as talented as he was."

Actor Earl Holliman, who starred in the show's very first chapter, "Where is Everybody?," remembers Serling as a man of warmth and generosity. …

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