Rod Serling (25 December, 1924 – 28 June, 1975) was an American playwright, screen writer, and TV producer. He is mostly known as the creator, and narrator of the TV show The Twilight Zone.
- Rodman Edward Serling was born in Syracuse, NY to a Jewish family struggling to survive during the Great Depression and afterwards. He spent most of his youth in Binghamton, NY – about 70 miles away.
- Mr. Serling’s father, Samuel, an amateur inventor who took a job as a butcher to support his family, and his mother, Esther, encouraged their son to perform. They even built a stage in their basement for him.
- At first, young Serling was seen as a class clown and dismissed as a loser. His 7th grade English teacher, Helen Foley, recognized his hidden talent and encouraged him to join the school’s public speaking activities. Mr Serling eventually joined the debate team and spoke at his high school’s graduation. Mr Serling used the name Helen Foley in some of his scripts to honor his beloved teacher.
- Immediately after graduating from high-school, Mr. Serling joined the US Army, hoping to fight Nazi Germany during World War II. He served in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division, fighting in the Pacific though. Among Mr. Serling’s military decorations are the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Philippine Liberation Medal.
- After the war Mr. Serling started writing. He submitted a script to a very popular radio show called Mr. Christian. His work was chosen, out of thousands submitted, for broadcast. His prize was a trip to NYC and $500. Earl Hammer, Jr. another winner would go on to write scripts for The Twilight Zone.
- The writer’s first big break was a script he wrote for the Kraft Television Theatre called “Patterns”. The story was about the power struggle between an entrenched boss and a young executive. While Mr. Serling didn’t think his 72nd script was anything special, others thought otherwise.
- The reason Mr. Serling wanted to do his own show was to avoid the rampant corporate censorship so prevalent in TV during the 50s.
- Mr. Serling’s first episode of The Twilight Zone, named The Time Element, was first broadcasted in 1958 on the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. The episode was a hit and CBS approved The Twilight Zone series.
- Recording the famous opening narration for the 1959 pilot episode of The Twilight Zone, Mr. Serling used the term “a sixth dimension”. A CBS executive heard it and asked the writer why he had skipped a fifth dimension? Serling, puzzled, hadn’t really considered it. “Oh,” he said. “Aren’t there five?”
The narration was re-recorded.
- Until his death, Mr. Serling taught college courses on film criticism, writing and drama.
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