Author Steven Jay Rubin discussed his book on the original Twilight Zone TV series, The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia, which reflects on its impact today after nearly 60 years, and the writers, producers, actors, and directors who created this iconic show. "I decided that here's too much information that has not been imparted to the public... the people (actors, supporting players, technicians) aren't being talked about enough," he said about writing the book. In his encyclopedia, Rubin provides fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits and spoiler-free setups to all 156 episodes.
"There's something about the way Rod Serling wrote — he was a student of language, maybe the most precise speaker and writer we've ever had," Rubin suggested, noting how contemporary productions seem to rely on visuals over words which inspire the imagination. He recalled how an episode called "The Silence" affected him as a child. The story centers on a man who is bet $500,000 he cannot remain silent for a year and placed inside an isolating glass enclosure. According to Rubin, the thought of not speaking for a year provoked terror in the then eight-year-old.
Rubin also shared some of the dark history of the show. "There are a lot of interesting stories about Twilight Zone performers who met shocking ends," he reported. Actor Gig Young appeared in the beloved episode "Walking Distance," about a burned out Manhattan advertising executive who visits his hometown and discovers he has traveled back in time. Young ended up murdering his bride and committing suicide, Rubin revealed.
Open Lines followed in the latter half of the program. Michael in Ventura, California, told George a story about a bizarre 100-year-old stained glass window which displayed things about the property upon which he was homesteading. According to Michael, the property had a shack he built, a meadow where he would meditate, and, tragically, an area where two kids overdosed on the property. Michael claimed all of these details were represented in the stained glass window.
Milton from South Carolina shared details of a curious occurrence "that scared [him] to death." According to Milton, he was living in a rooming house and was in bed listening to Coast to Coast when all of a sudden the microwave inexplicably turned on. Milton admitted he was shaken, left the room, and stood in the hallway for 30 minutes before he worked up the courage to return. The place used to be a nursing home and this could have been the spirit of a former resident, he suggested.
Tracey, a truck driver in Arkansas, confessed to seeing an apparition in the cab of his truck. "I happened to look over into the right-hand side seat and there's a person sitting there... I could see through it," he recalled. The ghostly passenger was shaking his head and after a few seconds he disappeared, Tracey explained. He later found out the former owner suffered a heart attack and died in the truck.