Last updated13 June, 2011 0:10 AM
Q: Who controls the rights to Rod Serling's work?
Twilight Zone, Playhouse 90, any CBS-TV series:
Requiem for a Heavyweight or Patterns:
Samuel French, Inc.
45 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10010-2751
For almost everything
Q: I am curious about Rod Serling's service in the 11th Airborne during World War Two. I know his unit was the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, but I was wondering if you know where he was wounded.
A: Rod served in the 511th. He received his injuries in Leyte.
Q: Why do The Twilight Zone credits always end with the name Cayuga Productions?
A: Cayuga Productions was the name of Rod Serling's production company during the years of Twilight Zone. Cayuga Lake, one of New York's "finger lakes," is about an hour drive northwest of Binghamton, and where Rod and his family had a summer home.
Q: Where may I obtain a video copy of "Patterns" or a written copy of the play? Better yet, is there a compilation of Serling’s work in print?
A: "Patterns" is available commercially in VHS video format. I just checked www.amazon.com and they list it for $13.99. The script was published by Simon and Schuster in 1957 - "Patterns: Four Television Plays with the Author's Personal Commentaries" and EBay is one place where you might find a copy.
Here's a "greatest hits" list from The Rod Serling Resource Site. I would add to it the PH90 In the Presence of Mine Enemies.
Q: Where can one locate the script as originally written about the Emmet Till case?
A: I'm sorry to say I can't help you in locating the script of Rod's writing about the Emmet Till case. He did two stories based on the case: "Noon on Doomsday" and "A Town Has Turned To Dust." Perhaps the titles will help you but our archives don't include either script.
Q: I'd like to be able to read some of rod serling's early works such as his earliest teleplays and stories, but my library lists only a few of his works -- any chance you can steer me in the right direction?
A: I wish I was able to point you to readily available early works of Rod Serling's but unfortunately it isn't that easy. That is one of the goals of our Foundation: to make Rod's work—ALL of Rod's work—more readily available to the public. If you haven't already, request at your library for them to obtain more Serling writings and see what they can come up with.
there a different director for what seems to be every other program? Would not
it have been better to have the same director across the series, one you could
count on to interpret correctly? Were there any TZ actually shot in Binghamton?
I believe not. And, which ones are reminiscent of Binghamton?
Were there attempts made and it could not be worked out, or what?
A: Twilight Zone, being an anthology series, lent itself to having different directors throughout the series. George T. Clemens being the director of photography on most of the episodes gave them the "look" to tie the series together.Having the same director on every episode may have kept the series from continuing to be fresh. Of course this is only my opinion and I have no experience in producing a television program.
No TZs were actually shot in Binghamton. The episode that most utilizes Rod's memories of Binghamton is "Walking Distance" with a Recreation Park setting near his hometown neighborhood. There are many hints of Binghamton in other episodes but none so blatant.
Q: Why did he never speak at my alma-mater, SUNY-Binghamton? that includes commencement or courses? I see he taught at Ithaca College and he gave an address at the high school? I am concerned about this, as it seems fishy.
A: My guess is that he was never asked. Helen Foley always asked him to speak at the public schools when he was in town and he did. His former teacher and friend Lloyd Hartman invited him to speak at Broome Community College and he did. He spoke at SUNY-Oswego so he had nothing against the SUNY schools. They had a summer home near Ithaca which is how he formed his relationship with Ithaca College. I believe he just had no contacts at Binghamton University and no one there ever made an effort to invite him. Rod loved to speak and he spoke across the country at countless colleges. I only wish I was able to have witnessed one in person. I've heard a taping of one and it was thoroughly enjoying.
Q: I've been searching for the original series of the "Twilight Zone" scripts for a long time with no luck. Would you please direct me to a place that I could read or purchase those scripts.
A: Thanks for your praise of the web site. It's a pleasure to help anyone gain a fuller appreciation of Rod Serling and his legacy. I urge you to consider joining the Foundation. As a reward, we offer a not-available-anywhere-else video about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Read about it here.
Tony Albarella is editing a 10-book series of every script Rod wrote for The Twilight Zone. These books contain the scripts in their original formatting, and lots of extras such as ads from that era and Albarella's insightful commentary about each script and episode. You can read about these books here, and about the writer here. Both web pages contain links to the publisher.
Transcripts (not quite as accurate as scripts, but far better than nothing) some episodes appear on this web page.
The Sixties saw a number of paperback books published with Twilight Zone scripts converted to short stories, usually by Rod Serling himself. While these books are all out of print, copies appear constantly on www.ebay.com and can also be located through used book sites such as www.abebooks.com. They are reasonably priced and good reading!
Q: Do you know which actor or actress played in the most episodes of twilight zone? I know some are now big movie stars.
you mentioned, many of the actors that appeared in TZ episodes have gone on
to have grand careers and many already had impressive credentials before appearing
on the show.
The two actors that come to mind that appeared in the most episodes of The Twilight Zone are Burgess Meredith and Jack Klugman who each appeared in four episodes. I believe that was the most.
Q: I've been extremely interested in Rod Serling for a long, long time. As I've studied his remarkable career, one comes across the section where he evidently did quite a few commercials for televison, as a spokeman and pitch-person. But there has never been any listing of his appearances in this particular area. I was wondering if you might know what different companies and product-brands he filmed commercials for. Or could you direct me to a site on the web or a reference work on commercials of the 50's & 60's that might contain such a listing.
A: I have personally seen him in ads for Genessee Beer, Famous Writers School, another beer, and a floor wax. I know there were many others, as well as some where he lent his voice only. I don't believe that any appeared during the Fifties, though. To the best of my knowledge, he didn't begin doing ads in earnest until after Twilight Zone in 1965.
Q: In the Twilight Zone episode, "The Changing of the Guard," one of the characters recites a poem that starts "I will be true" and I think the professor in the story says it was by Herbert? Can you please tell me if this is a real poem and author and can if it is?
A: The poet
named in the episode:
Howard Arnold Walter, who wrote in 1906:
The poem is "I Would Be True."
"I would be true for there are those who trust me.
I would be pure for there are those who care.
I would be strong for there is much to suffer
and I would be brave for there is much to dare."
There are two other verses. Read them here:
American Folksongs /
Volkslieder aus den Vereinigten Staaten
Folksongs, Hymns and Spirituals of America
Q: What is the best biography on Rod Serling?
A: PBS American Masters program "Rod Serling: Submitted for your Approval." It is a quality piece and quite comprehensive. It is available on VHS and DVD.
If you prefer reading, the two biographies I am familiar with are both unauthorized and although comprehensive, they take liberties. They are: "Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man" by Gordon F. Sander, 1992; and "Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone" by Joel Engel, 1989.
Q: I want to do a proposal
for an anthology written in the memory of Rod Serling. You guys can host it;
I am a horror writer who penned a short story where I played Serling's role
of introducing it. And what I have in mind is doing the anthology with a bunch
of writers who share Serling's influence. I want to get a hold of Carol Serling
first because I want her blessing with the idea before I go on with it. Serling
influenced me in a huge way with both Night Gallery and Twilight Zone. I am
28 years old now, I was a year after he died and what introduced me to Serling
was reruns of the Twilight Zone. Serling also inspired a whole generation of
horror writers -- and I think if I can get a hold of them they would think it
would be cool to do this kind of idea. The writers of the stories would play
the role of Serling as in how they introduce the story much as Rod did with
The Twilight Zone.
A: Thank you for your interest. The idea you propose sounds unfortunately like projects Carol Serling has already done, most recently with "Adventures in the Twilight Zone." She has edited three such anthology books that I am aware of, the other two being "Return to the Twilight Zone" and "Journeys to the Twilight Zone." Check these books out and see if your project is something different than this. If so and it is something you'd like to pursue I would be happy to pass along information on how to contact Carol through her agent. Wishing you continued success.
Q: I am doing a research project concerning Frank Capra, and I wondered if there might be a connection to Mr. Serling. I am told that the two were friends...
A: Carol wrote back that: "No, Rod didn't know Frank Capra, but absolutely loved "Wonderful Life" and we watched it every Xmas." Thought you would enjoy hearing that.
Q: I'm interested in becoming a writer, and I am 21 and soon entering college, does Rod Serlings writing school ad still exist or a ghost of what was.
A: The Famous Writers School, which Rod Serling promoted, is no longer in existence. See the 60s ad at this web page and a 5-minute infomercial on the MEET ROD SERLING DVD, which is given to new members of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation. You can read about joining here.
Q: Is the Twilight Zone series are available in DVD? I wan the complete collection of the black in white ones.
A: Yes, the classic black
and white episodes of TWILIGHT ZONE are available on DVD. There are many sites
on the internet offering them for sale as well as most large size music/video
stores. Do a quick search and you'll find many options. Good luck and enjoy!
Q: Is Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine is still published in any form?
A: No. If you seek copies of the original run, try www.ebay.com.
Q: Where I can find a Rod's teleplay Patterns?
A: The "Patterns" teleplay appeared in a 1957 paperback--along with "Requiem for a Heavyweight" and two other plays. It can still be found at used bookstores and on EBay (although not at this very moment). I had better luck at www.abebooks.com: at this moment they list 29 copies ranging from $10 to $875 (autographed). It's a great book with Rod's commentary about each script and and a 40-page autobiography,s which we have posted here: http://www.rodserling.com/PPBintro.htm.
A VHS video of the theatrical
movie (starring Van Heflin) is usually for sale on the internet and sometimes
locally. A VHS video of the TV broadcast can be had by members of the Rod Serling
Memorial Foundation--along with many other videos of Rod Serling's Golden Age
shows--for the price of the tape and postage (around $6 total) from other members
RSMF membership begins at $15 and I urge you to consider this worthy cause. You can read more about joining here: http://www.rodserling.com/FDNjoinmain.htm.
Q: I am writing to request your assistance in learning more about one of Mr. Serling's lesser known---and clearly underappreciated projects: THE LONER. I am especially interested in ascertaining whether all the episodes of this series can be located---where they can be obtained--- and whether this series might possibly be reissued.
There appears to be some general thought that a number of the episodes are "lost". Can you provide me with any information in this regard. I would also appreciate any other suggestions regarding information on this series.
A: Tony Albarella is on our Board of Directors and author of the series "As Timeless as Infinity: The Complete Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling." He also happens to be the number one expert on Rod Serling's THE LONER series. He presented a comprehensive talk at this year's Rod Serling Conference held at Ithaca College (April 2006).
This is Tony Albarella - sorry for the delay in responding. In answer to your questions, THE LONER cannot be found commercially but, as you've seen from the list Steve Schlich from our organization sent you, we've managed to obtain quite a few. It's taken years of tracking down people who transferred old 16mm films or taped episodes during a brief run on TV LAND some time ago.
As to the viability of the series being released, I'm not optimistic, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it's not well-known or popular, and sales are the key for any company seeking to release a title. Secondly, there aren't many episodes relative to your average series. This means a DVD release could not command a high retail price and thus it would have little resale value.
But, you never know. The DVD market is constantly evolving and TV shows on DVD have become a big part of their business. Twilight Zone sells very well on DVD. Perhaps if Serling's - or maybe Lloyd Bridges' - work becomes more widely recognized in the future, some company will take a chance and pay for the rights to release THE LONER.
In regards to episodes being considered "lost," I've not heard or read anything to verify this. All the episodes did make it into the syndication package. It's just that since there are so few of them, it's hard for any station to pick it up and run it without adding another series to the rotation, thereby doubling their costs. It's cheaper for a television network to simply buy the syndication rights to a show that has enough episodes to fill a time slot without having to repeat entries every other week.
It's a problem faced by any show that suffered from a short run before getting cancelled, and one of the factors that continues to hold them down. If it's not popular, it's cancelled, and if it's cancelled quickly, there's not enough product to viably rebroadcast. In every aspect, the fewer episodes a series has, the better the chance that it will remain obscure. Bearing this in mind, the entire series can be considered "lost."
The only other factor I can think of to explain your observation is the TV LAND reruns. That cable channel once broadcast some but not all LONERS as part of a rotating lineup with other TV Westerns. ("TV LAND GOES WEST" was the umbrella title of this, and sadly none of us here at the RSMF caught it when it ran. We had to track down people who taped them.) However, TV LAND stopped this multiple-show program before all of the LONERs were shown. Perhaps this led someone to the assumption that the episodes not seen during this run were lost.
At any rate, I'm happy to answer any other questions on the show, as well as listen to any comments or opinions you may have. The article I wrote on THE LONER a few years ago is available via our website, and I added more material for the talk that Andy mentioned, at the recent Rod Serling Conference. I have detailed notes on that and would be happy to send them to you at your request.
Q: I live in Hollywood at 1764 North Sycamore ave. Several tenants including myself have experienced what can only be described as "super natural" experiences, so much that some experts are coming to our building to study it. Our building has an interesting history, Jim Morrison lived here as did Patty Hearst. Also there is an urban legend that one of Rod Serling's children was murdered here and that is where the supernatural experiences are coming from. I am a fan of Rod Serling and I would like to know if this is true, If you can help me I would be most appreciative. Thank you.
A: Wow, that's an urban legend all right. Totally untrue. Both of Rod Serling's children are alive and well, and have never been to that building.
My personal favorite theory about ghosts is that they are not the remains of people or their souls, but the emotional residue left over from a traumatic experience (which of course *could* include death). So perhaps Morrison or Hearst—or others less well known—had traumatic experiences there.
Q: I am looking for information on where I could purchase a Nostradamus movie hosted by Rod Serling. Any ideas? My friend''s been looking for years for this movie. I want to help her find it.
A: Sorry, Serling did not narrate any Nostradamus specials. I remember one called "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow" that was narrated by Orson Welles, another famous voice/figure, so perhaps that explains the confusion.
My other guess is that this refers not to a special entirely on Nostradamus but one that might have included a segment on him. Rod narrated several documentaries that covered extraordinary material and could have mentioned Nostradamus. Shows such as:
UFOs: It Has Begun (1976)
The Outer Space Connection (1975)
In Search of Ancient Mysteries (1975)
Monsters! Mysteries or Myths? (1974)
UFOs: Past, Present, and Future (1974)
In Search of Ancient Astronauts (1973)
The Unexplained (1970)
Q: Did Mr. Serling ever write an autobiography or a memoir? Has there been a biography written about him?
A: Rod wrote a semi- autobiographical account of his rise as a screenwriter in the 40-page introduction to his 1957 paperback book "Patterns," which also contains 4 of his live TV screenplays. You can get the paperback itself on eBay--well worth it--or read the introduction on this Patterns paperback page. It's not a true autobiography since Rod was just 32 (and had Twilight Zone ahead of him) when he wrote those pages, but there is very little else. Look to the top right of this News & Print page--the section Rod Speaks Out for more of his words.
There have been two biographies written about Rod: "Rod Serling: Television's Last Angry Man" by Gordon Sander and "Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone" by Joel Engel. Unfortunately both books have some factual errors. A great bio is available on DVD and VHS by the American Masters titled "Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval." There is also a lot of biographical information on the internet, including oin our own Links page.
Good luck and enjoy!
Q: Did Boris Karloff appear in the 1960 Playhouse 90 production of "In the Presence of Mine Enemies"? Can you buy a DVD or a tape?
A: (Tony Albarella) Karloff didn't die until 1969, so it's possible he appeared. He acted in TV and movies until his death, and in the early sixties hosted the TZ/Alfred Hitchcock Presents-like series THRILLER, which was frequently quite good. You'll also remember him, quite memorably, as the voice of THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS in the animated classic.
I saw the original "In the Presence of Mine Enemies" at the NY Museum of TV & Radio some years ago (it was fantastic), but don't recall Karloff being in it. Still, that doesn't mean much. His role could have been small or I simply might not have recognized him. His casting would make sense, however, given the ethic-looking actors that made up the rest of the cast. And I do know that he appeared in at least three other PLAYHOUSE 90's during the run of the show. I'd have to see "In the Presence" again, keeping an eye out for him, to know for sure.
internet search on this turned up an interesting page of a Karloff bio,
which lists his appearance as coming from an "unconfirmed report" and
adding that "The date does not bear this out." Here's the page if you
want to check it out:
(You'll need a Google ID, but that is free.)
This is the only info of any substance that I can find. Someday I'll have to return to the MT&R and have another look at this gem. I hope some of this helps.
Q: Do you have or know how to get information on the boat that Rod Serling owned —Carolyn II? A friend of mine thinks he owns that boat in the photos of Rod at the helm. It is a Chris Craft.
A: Sorry, but we don't any information on Rod's boat Carolyn II, other than it was housed at their cottage on Cayuga Lake in New York State. Others in the past have claimed that they now owned the boat, but no one can confirm it.
Q: Can you display some DVD screen captures of Carol Burnett from the Twilight Zone episode Cavender Is Coming (May 1962) on to the Twilight Zone Photo Gallery?
A: The photos we have in our Photo Gallery section regarding the Twilight Zone are the photos CBS has given us permission to display. CBS owns the rights to all images from the Twilight Zone and therefore we cannot display other pictures from the series without infringing on those rights. Sorry.
Q: I'm a big fan of The Twilight Zone as well as old asylum buildings oddly enough. I came across your great Rod Serling Memorial site and noticed the original Binghamton State Hospital building pictured in your "Architecture from the Twilight Zone" gallery.
Am I right in assuming that means the hospital appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone?
Or is that just a title you used to sort of equate Binghamton with The Twilight Zone?
I'd like to track down the episode with the hospital building in it—if there is one.
A: Although many of the architectural gems from Binghamton may have inspired Rod Serling, no filming was ever done here for the Twilight Zone. Our webmaster, Steve Schlich, resides in California so on his first visit to Binghamton he was awed by some of our architecture and thus inspired to create the "Architecture from the Twilight Zone" photo gallery. You may or may not know but the State Hospital building which has sat empty for the last 8 years finally received funding in 2008 to start its restoration. This includes restoring its original spires. Upstate Medical will be using it as a training medical center.
Q: What is the best book about Serling?
A: The best book is a video. See if your library (or Netflix or eBay) has the 1997 PBS American Masters special "Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval," which presents his life in the video format that was his own life's work, and mostly in his own words. It's an excellent and entertaining 90 minutes.
Two disappointing print biographies came out during the 90s; they included the usual biographical information but seemed fascinated with the tabloid aspects of Hollywood and Rod's life. Both attempted to present the material in a you-are-there dramatic style, which wound up proving the authors far less gifted than their subject.
But there is hope! A new book, "Requiem for a Heavyweight: The Words of Rod Serling," is due out in early 2009. This one promises to be a nonjudgmental study of his work with insight into the events of his life that influenced that work.
Q: Are there any Serling celebrations
A: The 50th anniversary of Twilight Zone's premiere is in October 2009. Rod's hometown Binghamton, NY, will hold ceremonies and a film festival around that time. Ithaca College in upstate New York, where Rod taught writing, held Rod Serling Conferences in 2006 and 2008; the college will hold another conference in October 2009. Keep your eye on the www.rodserling.com home page for specific news and dates.
Q:Where is best site to locate info. on his other
works, i.e., novellas/fiction?
A: www.rodserling.com, of course! There is a long list of articles about him and by him, here: http://www.rodserling.com/newsprint.htm.
Most of his work was filmed for TV and the movies, and can be found by searching sites such as Amazon.com and Netflix—as well as your local library. eBay and Amazon.com (or any online bookstore) are also fantastic resources for videos and books, since there is nothing truly new. I personally found every paperback of his, numbering almost a dozen and mostly adaptions of Twilight Zone episodes, on eBay. Just search for "Rod Serling" and keep looking.
There is far more to Rod Serling than Twilight Zone, which accounted for 2 of his 6 Emmy awards. His legacy is mostly in video. But there is a wonderful series of books which contain all of his Twilight Zone screenplays and tons of other fascinating information about him, his times, and Twilight Zone. Go to http://www.gauntletpress.com/ and look for the 10-volume series "As Timeless As Infinity: The Complete Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling" edited by Tony Albarella. I reviewed the first volume in 2004: http://www.rodserling.com/ATAI_review_2004.htm.
Q: In 1974 Rod Serling lent his voice as a host for a syndicated radio program special called "Fantasy Park: A Concert of the Mind". It was a 48-hour music radio program produced by Beau Weaver in Dallas and aired during the Memorial and Independence holidays in 1975. It won a 1975 Billboard Magazine award. Where can I find it?
A: There appears to be an online streaming podcast of an 18-minute segment here: http://www.reelradio.com/bw/index.html. First, they want $12 to join their organization.
Q: I heard a rumor that Mr. Serling was part Cayuga Indian, and this was one of the reasons why he so arduously fought racism, and was a provacateur against it, via his anti-racial themes in The Twilight Zone. True?
A: The Serlings have a summer home on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York, and it was a revered place for Rod. It was his refuge from Hollywood. But he had no Cayuga Indian ancestors.
Q: I am a researcher into the UFO phenomenon. Some time ago the enclosed photograph was published on the internet as a possible, real UFO crash. Obviously it is a fake. Moreover, a reader wrote that this is a frame from a Twilight Zone episode. Can you please confirm this?
A: Confirmed! The crashed UFO is an exact reverse image from a frame from the episode Death Ship, tree brush and all. The alien body does not appear in the episode. This prop spaceship also appeared in The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, and in the film Forbidden Planet.
Death Ship originally aired on February 7, 1963.
Q: Did Mr. Serling ever recommend a correspondence school for writers?
A: Rod was a founder, on the faculty, and a pitchman for the Famous Writers School during the 1960s. A 5-minute infomercial for the school, hosted by Rod, appears on the DVD Meet Rod Serling, which is a gift to all new members of the Foundation. To join, go here.
Q: Why did Rod Serling never teach at Binghamton University? I see that he spoke a lot at Broome Community College. What about Cornell vs. Ithaca College?
A: Rod loved to speak with students and relished the opportunities to do so. He spoke virtually anywhere he was asked, and unfortunately Binghamton University never asked him. His friend Lloyd Hartman was employed at Broome Community College, and often asked to speak. Same situation with Helen Foley at Binghamton Central High School.
Rod was offered a teaching position at Ithaca College and that is why he went there rather than Cornell.
Q: Does the Foundation get any money from the sale of TZ DVDs?
A: No, the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation does not receive royalities from anything associated with the Twilight Zone. We are a non-profit organization of volunteers who donate their time and resources. We raise money by donation only (and some clothing sales). Scroll to the top of this web page for a list of who controls the rights to which aspects of Rod's work. Look here for a list of Foundation goals and activities.
Q: Did Rod Serling have a brother, or a cousin (or any relative) named Phil Serling? There was a Phil Serling who was in charge of the Syracuse Movie Festival a few years ago, and I wondered if he was any relation.
A: Rod only has one sibling - Robert Serling, a successful writer himself. If Phil Serling from Syracuse is related to Rod he would be a distant relative.
Q: What is the name of the font used on the main banners for the site (such as the "FAQ" at the top of this page)? It's beautiful, and I'd like very much to use it in a project.
A: It's BernhardMod BT, a nice font made great by the fact that it was used in most of the original Twilight Zone episodes. This is a TrueType font, suitable in just about any computer (Mac or Windows, for two examples). You can download it from here:
http://www.rodserling.com/tzfonts.zip (enter that into your browser and it'll *probably* download automatically. Then you must install it on your own system, of course.) The zip file contains four typefaces: roman (regular), bold, italic and bold italic.
One caveat if you plan to use this font on a website: you cannot count on your audience having the font. So we create the banners in a word processor and then use a "screen shot" to convert them to .jpg or .gif graphics when we use them on the web pages. It's also an excellent way to display bigger letters than HTML normally allows.
Q: The biography of Rod on the web site for SyFy (a.k.a the Sci-Fi Channel) says that "Serling returned to Antioch College as a professor and lectured at college campuses across the country" in the early 70s. Do they mean Ithaca College?
A: SyFy is correct about teaching at Antioch, but off by a decade. Unbelievably—considering he was also writing screenplays and Twilight Zone episodes—Rod did teach some writing courses at Antioch. Foundation member Jeanne Marshall attended one of them and took copious notes.
Q: How did Rod Serling express the underlying emotions of his era?
A: A YouTube search for the phrase "serling writing for tv" turns up many videos of Rod teaching a seminar on Writing For Television—recorded at Ithaca College circa 1972 and appearing on Laserdisc during the 90s.
In these videos he speaks about being one of 11 million WWII veterans who came home with a horrific and memorable experience in common. That experience was the engine behind much of his writing during the 1950s Golden Age of Television. In fact, he began writing as therapy while recovering from a war wound.
Q: Did Rod Serling ever portray censorship in a script? What are some of the political issues he showed in his work and how are they shown?
A: Rod complained loudly about censorship's ruination of his 1956 drama The Arena, which lost its focus on the specific issues of the time, but did not lose its greater point about personal honor. This is typical of his strongest writing (for example his screen adaptation of Seven Days in May) -- the issues are almost beside the point; his forte is moral conflict and wrenchingly tough choices.
He wrote at great length about his early career, including censorship, in the forward to his 1957 paperback Patterns.
Q: Were there any instances in which his experience as a paratrooper affected his writing?
A: His war experiences on Leyte (where he fought as a paratrooper) informed his writing throughout his career. But we are unaware of any paratrooper characters in of his work. Look over his filmography here: http://www.rodserling.com/filmography.htm. The pre-Twilight Zone stuff is particularly war-heavy. I would point to the 2009-reissued The Strike (1954) as emblematic of Rod's response to war.
Q: Did writing for television change his style in any way?
A: He began writing for radio but switched to television early on. He learned the necessary discipline of writing through radio and in trying to succeed in TV—lots of practice and dedication to the craft itself. He kept writing, constantly, relentlessly, until it made him better, and he never lost that work ethic. His Patterns intro (linked above) deals with that, too.
Early in his TV career he began speaking his scripts into a dictation machine instead of typing them. He mentions that it saved him time, but it probably made a profound difference in his writing voice and his mastery of dialog.
Q: Can you recommend any other sources of information?
A: The 1997 PBS documentary American Masters: Submitted for Your Approval is an excellent source that uses Serling's own work, especially his autobiographical "The Velvet Alley," to tell his story.
Q: I work at Old Fort Niagara and I have heard that Rod Serling got the inspiration to join the airborne while at the theater there. True?
A: Carol Serling replies: "To the best of my knowledge, Rod was not at Fort Niagara. He enlisted in the paratroopers in Binghamton and I believe was immediately sent to parachute school down south (one of the Carolinas?) for basic training."
Q: My school is interested in reprinting Rod Serling’s short story The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street as part of a reading intervention program we’re preparing for publication. Who I can contact about permission? Our editors really love this classic story, and we’re eager to be able to introduce it to a new generation of children.
A: We will forward your request to Carol Serling, who heads the Serling Trust. That story is a perfect fit for a school program such as yours, so we hope that you are successful.
Q: I Where can I get a copy of the painting Midnight Never Ends (seen at left in a screen shot of the episode)? It's the only Night Gallery painting that has Rod Serling in it.
A: We do not own the rights to any photographic images of Rod Serling. We do possess the rights to use the Johnny Hart sketch (at the top of this web page) and this art by board member Robert Keller... and therefore cannot sell copies. Your best bet is to search eBay.com or similar sites for publicity shots. Just query for "Rod Serling photo" and you'll get a constant stream of available photos and art.
Q: I saw a screenplay for the 1964 movie 633 Squadron, and it credits Rod Serling as writer of the second draft. Was it a movie or an episode of Twilight Zone?
A: It's a movie and definitely not a Twilight Zone episode. Basic research turns up the names James Clavell and Howard Koch, with their screenplay based on a Frederick E. Smith novel. But Hollywood Script Shop lists Serling as the author of the 2nd draft of the script.
Bridget Bower manages the Rod Serling Archive at Ithaca College, which includes a number of unproduced scripts. She found this record in the archive:
M-9 The Violent Sky
“633 Squadron” [was the final name of the movie, produced in 1964] Second draft; 4-6-1959; carbon copy; 188 p. indicated.
What you saw is quite likely a genuine Serling script. As you probably know, credit for screenplays is a complex area that is governed by contracts and internal politics.
Q: Where can I obtain a copy of the telecast script for "The Brain Center at
A:There is a ten volume series of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone scripts being published called "As Timeless as Infinity." Unfortunately the script you are looking for hasn't appeared yet.
Q: I just
watched a most profound episode entitled "Night of the Meek," which
first aired in 1960. The script just begs to be staged, if not fully, then certainly as a radio play. Do you know if it has been done? How does one go about securing the rights to do
perform this episode for stage or staged dramatic reading?
A: Agreed! "Night of the Meek" is a memorable and acclaimed Twilight Zone episode. CBS owns the rights that you need to stage any episode; you must contact CBS.
Carol Serling can grant permission for a reading only, but it usually must be free to the public. To our knowledge, "Night of the Meek" has never been staged. Best of luck!
More coming! Always more coming...