|Birth Day:||December 25, 1924|
|Death Date:||Jun 28, 1975 (age 50)|
|Birth Place:||Syracuse, United States|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Rod Serling died on Jun 28, 1975 (age 50).
He put on plays with neighborhood children on the stage his father built in their basement. He began his career as a writer and actor in radio.
Serling was born on December 25, 1924, in Syracuse, New York, to a Jewish family. He was the second of two sons born to Esther (née Cooper), a homemaker, and Samuel Lawrence Serling. Serling's father had worked as a secretary and amateur inventor before his children were born, but took on his father-in-law's profession as a grocer to earn a steady income. Sam Serling later became a butcher after the Great Depression forced the store to close. Rod had an older brother, novelist and aviation writer Robert J. Serling.
Serling spent most of his youth 70 miles south of Syracuse in the city of Binghamton after his family moved there in 1926. His parents encouraged his talents as a performer. Sam Serling built a small stage in the basement, where Rod often put on plays (with or without neighborhood children). His older brother, writer Robert, recalled that, at the age of six or seven, Rod entertained himself for hours by acting out dialogue from pulp magazines or movies he had seen. Rod would often ask questions without waiting for their answers. On a two-hour trip from Binghamton to Syracuse, the rest of the family remained silent to see if Rod would notice their lack of participation. He did not, and talked nonstop through the entire car ride.
Serling began his career when television was a new medium. The first public viewing of an all-electronic television was presented by inventor Philo Farnsworth at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on August 25, 1934, when Serling was nine years old. Commercial television officially started on July 1, 1941. At the time, there were fewer than seven thousand television sets in the United States, and very few of those were in private homes. Only five months later, the U.S. entered World War II, and the television business was put on hold until the war's end, as many of the sets were confiscated by the government and repurposed to train air-raid wardens. After World War II ended, money began flowing toward the new medium of television, coinciding with the beginning of Serling's writing career. Early programming consisted of newsreels, sporting events and what would be called public-access television today. It was not until 1948 that filmed dramas were first shown, beginning with a show called Public Prosecutor. Serling began having serious dramas produced in 1950 and is given credit as one of the first to write scripts specifically for television. As such, he is said to have helped legitimize television drama.
Serling was interested in radio and writing at an early age. He was an avid radio listener, especially interested in thrillers, fantasy, and horror shows. Arch Oboler and Norman Corwin were two of his favorite writers. He also "did some staff work at a Binghamton radio station ... tried to write ... but never had anything published." He was accepted into college during his senior year of high school. However, the United States was involved in World War II at the time, and Serling decided to enlist rather than start college immediately after he was graduated from Binghamton Central High School in 1943.
Serling began his military career in 1943 at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, under General Joseph May "Joe" Swing and Col. Orin D. "Hard Rock" Haugen and served in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division. He eventually reached the rank of Technician Fourth Grade (T/4).
On April 25, 1944, Serling received his orders and saw that he was being sent west to California. He knew that he would be fighting against the Japanese rather than the Germans. This disappointed him because he had hoped to help fight Hitler. In May, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater in New Guinea and the Philippines.
In November 1944, his division first saw combat, landing in the Philippines. The 11th Airborne Division would not be used as paratroopers, however, but as light infantry during the Battle of Leyte. It helped mop up after the five divisions that had gone ashore earlier.
Serling returned from the successful mission in Leyte with two wounds, including one to his kneecap, but neither kept him from combat when General Douglas MacArthur deployed the paratroopers for their usual purpose on February 3, 1945. Colonel Haugen led the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment as it landed on Tagaytay Ridge, met the 188th Glider Infantry Regiment and marched into Manila. It met minimal resistance until it reached the city, where Vice Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi had arranged his 17,000 troops behind a maze of traps and guns and ordered them to fight to the death. During the next month, Serling's unit battled block by block for control of Manila.
"24 Men to a Plane" recounts Serling's first combat jump into the area around Manila in 1945. The combat jump became a fiasco after the jumpmaster in the first plane dropped his men too early, causing every subsequent plane to drop in synchronization with the mistake.
After being discharged from the Army in 1946, Serling worked at a rehabilitation hospital while recovering from his wounds. His knee troubled him for years. Later, his wife, Carol, became accustomed to the sound of him falling down the stairs when his knee buckled under his weight.
As part of his studies, Serling became active in the campus radio station, an experience which proved useful in his future career. He wrote, directed, and acted in many radio programs on campus, then around the state, as part of his work study. Here he met Carolyn Louise "Carol" Kramer, a fellow student, who later became his wife. At first, she refused to date him because of his campus reputation as a "ladies' man", but she eventually changed her mind. He joined the Unitarian church in college, which allowed him to marry Kramer on July 31, 1948. They had two daughters, Jodi and Anne.
While in college, Serling won his first accolade as a writer. The radio program, Dr. Christian, had started an annual scriptwriting contest eight years earlier. Thousands of scripts were sent in annually, but very few could be produced. Serling won a trip to New York City and $500 for his radio script "To Live a Dream". He and his new wife, Carol, attended the awards broadcast on May 18, 1949, where he and the other winners were interviewed by the star of Dr. Christian, Jean Hersholt. One of the other winners that day was Earl Hamner, Jr., who had also earned prizes in previous years. Later, Hamner wrote scripts for Serling's The Twilight Zone.
Realizing the boxing story was not right for Grand Central Station, Serling submitted a lighter piece called Hop Off the Express and Grab a Local, which became his first nationally broadcast piece on September 10, 1949. His Dr. Christian script aired on November 30 of that year.
When he was fit enough, he used the federal G.I. bill's educational benefits and disability payments to enroll in the physical education program at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He had been accepted to Antioch (his brother's alma mater) while in high school. His interests led him to the theater department and then to broadcasting. He changed his major to Literature and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1950. "I was kind of mixed up and restless, and I kind of liked their work-for-a-term, go-to-school-for-a-term set-up," he recounted.
Serling began his professional writing career in 1950, when he earned $75 a week as a network continuity writer for WLW radio in Cincinnati, Ohio. While at WLW, he continued to freelance. He sold several radio and television scripts to WLW's parent company, Crosley Broadcasting Corporation. After selling the scripts, Serling had no further involvement with them. They were sold by Crosley to local stations across the United States.
In 1950, Serling hired Blanche Gaines as an agent. His radio scripts received more rejections, so he began rewriting them for television. Whenever a script was rejected by one program, he would resubmit it to another, eventually finding a home for many in either radio or television.
According to his wife, Serling "just up and quit one day, during the winter of 1952, about six months before our first daughter Jody was born—though he was also doing some freelancing and working on a weekly dramatic show for another Cincinnati station." He and his family moved to Connecticut in early 1953. Here he made a living by writing for the live dramatic anthology shows that were prevalent at the time, including Kraft Television Theatre, Appointment with Adventure and Hallmark Hall of Fame. By the end of 1954, his agent convinced him he needed to move to New York, "where the action is."
In 1955, the nationwide Kraft Television Theatre televised a program based on Serling's seventy-second script. To Serling, it was just another script, and he missed the first live broadcast. He and his wife hired a babysitter for the night and told her, "no one would call because we had just moved to town. And the phone just started ringing and didn't stop for years!" The title of this episode was "Patterns", and it soon changed his life.
Serling then wrote "Requiem for a Heavyweight" for the television series Playhouse 90 in 1956, again gaining praise from critics.
Serling submitted "The Time Element" to CBS, intending it to be a pilot for his new weekly show, The Twilight Zone. Instead, CBS used the science fiction script for a new show produced by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, in 1958. The story concerns a man who has vivid nightmares of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The man goes to a psychiatrist and, after the session, the twist ending (a device which Serling became known for) reveals the "patient" had died at Pearl Harbor, and the psychiatrist was the one actually having the vivid dreams. The episode received so much positive fan response that CBS agreed to let Serling go ahead with his pilot for The Twilight Zone.
On October 2, 1959, the classic Twilight Zone series, created by Serling, premiered on CBS.
After being knocked out in a 1961 boxing match, Archie Moore said, "Man, I was in the Twilight Zone!"
Also in 1961, the FCC chairman, Newton N. Minow, gave a speech in which he called television programming a "vast wasteland", citing The Twilight Zone as one of only a few exceptions.
In the 1970s, Serling appeared in television commercials for Ford, Radio Shack, Ziebart and the Japanese automaker Mazda, during the time they were promoting vehicles for the U.S. market powered with a rotary engine. He also made very occasional minor acting appearances, all in material he didn't write. Serling appeared more-or-less as a version of himself (but named "Mr. Zone") in a comedic bit on The Jack Benny Program; he appears in a 1962 episode of the short-lived sitcom Ichabod and Me in the role of Eugene Hollinfield; and in a 1972 episode of the crime drama Ironside entitled "Bubble, Bubble, Toil, and Murder" (which also featured a young Jodie Foster), in which he plays a small role as the proprietor of an occult magic shop.
The Twilight Zone aired for five seasons (the first three presented half-hour episodes, the fourth had hour-long episodes, and the fifth returned to the half-hour format). It won many television and drama awards and drew critical acclaim for Serling and his co-workers. Although it had loyal fans, The Twilight Zone had only moderate ratings and was twice canceled and revived. After five years and 156 episodes (92 written by Serling), he grew weary of the series. In 1964, he decided not to oppose its third and final cancellation.
A Carol for Another Christmas was a 1964 American television movie, scripted by Rod Serling as a modernization of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and a plea for global cooperation between nations. It was telecast only once, on December 28, 1964. The only television movie directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, this was the film in which Peter Sellers gave his first performance after a series of near-fatal heart attacks in the wake of his marriage to Britt Ekland. Sellers portrayed a demagogue in an apocalyptic Christmas. Sterling Hayden, who had co-starred with Sellers in Dr. Strangelove earlier that year, also was featured. The cast included Percy Rodriguez, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Gazzara, Barbara Ann Teer, James Shigeta, and Britt Ekland. Henry Mancini wrote the theme music, which was recorded for his 1966 holiday LP, A Merry Mancini Christmas. The film is not commercially available, but it can be seen at the Paley Center for Media in New York and Los Angeles and the Film and Television Archive at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Twilight Zone has been rerun, re-created and re-imagined since going off the air in 1964. It has been released in comic book form, as a magazine, a film, and three additional television series from 1985 to 1989, from 2002 to 2003, and again in 2019. In 1988, J. Michael Straczynski scripted Serling's outline "Our Selena Is Dying" for the 1980s Twilight Zone revival.
In December 1966, the made-for-television movie The Doomsday Flight aired. The fictional plot concerned an airplane with a bomb aboard. If the plane landed without the ransom money being paid, the aircraft would explode. The bomb was set with an altitude trigger that would detonate it if the plane dropped below four thousand feet. The show was one of the highest-rated of the television season, but both Serling and his brother Robert, a technical advisor on the project (a specialist in aviation), regretted making the film. After the film was aired, a rash of copycats telephoned in ransom demands to most of the largest airlines. Serling was truly devastated by what his script had encouraged. He told reporters who flocked to interview him, "I wish to Christ that I had written a stagecoach drama starring John Wayne instead."
Serling's experiences as a soldier left him with strong opinions about the use of military force. He was an outspoken antiwar activist, especially during the Vietnam War. He supported antiwar politicians, notably Eugene McCarthy in his presidential campaign in 1968.
In 1969, NBC aired a television film pilot for a new series, Night Gallery, written by Serling. Set in a dimly lit museum after hours, the pilot film featured Serling (as on-camera host) playing the curator, who introduced three tales of the macabre, unveiling canvases that would appear in the subsequent story segments. Its brief first season (consisting of only six episodes) was rotated with three other shows airing in the same time slot; this wheel show was entitled Four in One. The series generally focused more on horror and suspense than The Twilight Zone did. On the insistence of the producer Jack Laird, Night Gallery also began including brief comedic "blackout" sketches during its second season, which Serling greatly disdained. He stated "I thought they [the blackout sketches] distorted the thread of what we were trying to do on Night Gallery. I don't think one can show Edgar Allan Poe and then come back with Flip Wilson for 34 seconds. I just don't think they fit."
In a stylistic departure from his earlier work, Serling briefly hosted the first version of the game show Liar's Club in 1969.
No longer wanting the burden of an executive position, Serling sidestepped an offer to retain creative control of content, a decision he would come to regret. Although discontented with some of the scripts and creative choices of Jack Laird, Serling continued to submit his work and ultimately wrote over a third of the series' scripts. By season three, however, many of his contributions were being rejected or heavily altered. Night Gallery was cancelled in 1973. NBC later combined episodes of the short-lived paranormal series The Sixth Sense with Night Gallery, in order to increase the number of episodes available in syndication. Serling was reportedly paid $100,000 to film introductions for these repackaged episodes.
Serling returned to radio late in his career with The Zero Hour (also known as Hollywood Radio Theater) in 1973. The drama anthology series featured tales of mystery, adventure, and suspense, airing in stereo for two seasons. Serling hosted the program and wrote some of the scripts.
Originally placed into syndication on September 3, 1973, the series was picked up by the Mutual Broadcasting System in December of that year. The original format featured five-part dramas broadcast Monday through Friday, with the story coming to a conclusion on Friday. Including commercials, each part was approximately 30 minutes long. Mutual affiliates could broadcast the series in any time slot that they wished.
In 1974, still airing five days a week, the program changed to a full story in a single 30-minute installment with the same actor starring throughout the week in all five programs. That format was employed from late April 1974 to the end of the series on July 26, 1974.
Serling's final radio performance, which he recorded just a few weeks before his death, was even more unusual: Fantasy Park was a 48-hour-long rock concert aired by nearly 200 stations over Labor Day weekend in 1975. The program, produced by KNUS in Dallas, featured performances by dozens of rock stars of the day, and even reunited the Beatles. It was also completely imaginary, a "theatre-of-the-mind for the 70s", as producer Beau Weaver put it, using record albums recorded live in concert, plus crowd noise and other sound effects. (Stations who aired the special were reportedly inundated by callers demanding to know how to get to the nonexistent concert.) KNUS general manager Bart McLendon recruited Serling (his old teacher) to record the host segments, bumpers, custom promos, and television spots.
Later he taught at Ithaca College, from the late 1960s until his death in 1975. He was one of the first guest teachers at the Sherwood Oaks Experimental College in Hollywood, California. Audio recordings of his lectures there are included as bonus features on some Twilight Zone home video editions.
Serling was said to smoke three to four packs of cigarettes a day. On May 3, 1975, he had a minor heart attack and was hospitalized. He spent two weeks at Tompkins County Community Hospital before being released. A second heart attack two weeks later forced doctors to agree that open-heart surgery, though considered risky at the time, was required. The ten-hour-long procedure was performed on June 26, but Serling had a third heart attack on the operating table and died two days later at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. He was 50 years old. His funeral and burial took place on July 2 at Lake View Cemetery, Interlaken, (Seneca County), New York. A memorial was held at Cornell University's Sage Chapel on July 7, 1975. Speakers at the Memorial included his daughter Anne and the Reverend John F. Hayward. On January 9, 2020, Carolyn Louise “Carol” Kramer Serling died at age 90 and was buried next to her husband.
In 1975, the Canadian rock band Rush dedicated its third studio album, Caress of Steel, to Serling. Its fourth album, 2112, includes a song entitled "The Twilight Zone", in which the two verses are each based on an episode of the series.
The Twilight Zone eventually resurfaced in the form of a 1983 film by Warner Bros. Former Twilight Zone actor Burgess Meredith was cast as the film's narrator, but does not appear on screen. There have been three attempts to revive the television series with mostly new scripts. In 1985, CBS used Charles Aidman (and later Robin Ward) as the narrator. In 2002, UPN featured Forest Whitaker in the role of narrator. In 2019, CBS made a third attempt at a successful revival, with Jordan Peele taking on producing duties as well as being host and narrator.
The Twilight Zone is not the only Serling work to reappear. In 1994, Rod Serling's Lost Classics released two never-before-seen works that Carol Serling found in her garage. The first was an outline called, "The Theatre", that Richard Matheson expanded. The second was a complete script written by Serling, "Where the Dead Are".
Serling and his work on The Twilight Zone inspired the Disney theme park attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which debuted at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida in 1994. Serling appears in the attraction through the use of repurposed archival footage, and voice actor Mark Silverman provides the dubbing of Serling's dialogue for the attraction at both Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim. The ride takes place in the once-elegant Hollywood Tower Hotel that was struck by lightning, which caused the mysterious disappearance of five guests. Riders enter an abandoned elevator shaft as they become part of a "lost episode" of The Twilight Zone, with the attraction taking guests up 13 stories and dropping them multiple times. The Anaheim incarnation of the attraction was closed on January 2, 2017.
Annually since 1995, Binghamton High School, Serling's alma mater, primarily in partnership with WSKG-TV, hosts the Rod Serling Video Festival for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The festival encourages young people to engage in filmmaking.
More than 30 years after his death, Serling was digitally resurrected for an episode of the television series Medium that aired on November 21, 2005. Filmed partially in 3-D, it opened with Serling's introducing the episode and instructing viewers when to put on their 3-D glasses. This was accomplished using footage from The Twilight Zone episode "The Midnight Sun" and digitally manipulating Serling's mouth to match new dialogue spoken by voice actor Mark Silverman. The plot involved paintings coming to life, a nod to both The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.
On August 11, 2009, the United States Postal Service released its Early TV Memories commemorative stamp collection honoring notable television programs. One of the 20 stamps honored The Twilight Zone and featured a portrait of Serling.
Serling is indelibly woven into modern popular culture because of the enduring popularity of The Twilight Zone. Even youth of today can hum the theme song, and the title itself is a synonym for all things unexplainable. Serling's widow, Carol, maintained that the cult status that now surrounds both her husband and his shows continues to be a surprise, "as I'm sure it would have been to him." "It won't go away. It keeps bobbing up. ... Each year, I think, well, that's it—and then something else turns up." She survived him to the age of 90, dying on January 9, 2020, and participated in the continuing interest in Rod's work, sometimes preparing them for a new format and editing a publication about Rod that she founded, The Twilight Zone Magazine, as well as many activities to promote his legacy.
Rod married Carol Serling on July 31, 1948. They had two daughters, Jodi and Anne.
Currently, Rod Serling is 97 years, 6 months and 1 days old. Rod Serling will celebrate 98th birthday on a Sunday 25th of December 2022. Below we countdown to Rod Serling upcoming birthday.
Rod Serling: Born 90 years ago today
Today would have been the 90th birthday of the creator of The Twilight Zone (and a colossal amount of other excellent television). Rod Serling was born Christmas day 1924. Twenty years to the day later he found himself engaged in ferocious […]