On this day in 1924, the great writer and television producer Rod Serling was born. He served in the Pacific during World War II and after returning home, he went to Antioch College where he received his bachelor’s degree in literature. During his time there, he became involved in radio and so he began working in it. Soon, he moved to into television. Probably most notable during this career was the production of his teleplay, Requiem for a Heavyweight.
In 1959, Serling got to produce the series that he was best known for, The Twilight Zone. As great as Serling was as a writer, just important to the success of the show was his decision to work with Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. All three of them are among the best television writers ever — regardless of genre. And the shows hold up remarkably well even today.
Since it is Christmas, I have to mention what is by far the best Christmas show ever made, “Night of the Meek.” It was the ninth episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone. And it does a better job than anything else in summing up what I think Christmas is all about. Of course, I feel an extremely strong kinship with Henry Corwin (played by Art Carney). It’s beautiful.
I used to embed it, but the embed got taken down. Search Google for “Night of the Meek” and you will almost certainly find it.
After The Twilight Zone, Serling created Night Gallery. I still think it was a fine show — in many ways as good as The Twilight Zone. But Serling didn’t stay in charge of the series for very long and it rather quickly got terrible. But at first, it was great. And it was quite good for a while.
Before, I embedded the pilot, but of course, it always gets taken down. You can usually find it somewhere online. Also, I recommend checking out my page about the show on Psychotronic Review: Night Gallery.
Serling had heart trouble when he was only 50 years old. It quickly led to his death. I’m sure if he had lived at a later time, things would have gone better for him — and for us. Still, it is amazing how much great work he produced in his short lifetime. He really was a kind of Christmas present for our culture 90 years ago.
Happy birthday Rod Serling!