December 25, 1924June 28, 1975 An American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his surreal anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. He won six Emmy awards, for for dramas and two for Twilight Zonemore than any other writer. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen, and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the angry young man of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war. More at Wikipedia.
Rod Serling's Speech to Binghamton Central High School Graduates Sunday, January 28, 1968 Graduates, ladies and gentlemen, faculty, friends and old acquaintances, unless you've reached my age and [...]
May 1, 1964: Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin There has been progress made in the quality of television programming, but some of the industrys worst problemslike censorship by advertisersremains, [...]
As an episode ends and the last twist of the tale is revealed, the camera pans over to where the show's creator has waited just off-screen. His hair is jet-black, his eyes piercing. A cigarette is often wedged between his fingers, the smoke curling around him as he delivers the story's epilogue with deep-voiced staccato precision. He seems omniscient as he makes his closing argument about human nature to the millions of viewers across the nation, offering one final thought before the credits roll.
That somewhat ominous image made Serling an American icon, and the many skirmishes with network executives and sponsors who tried to censor his work led to his reputation as "the Angry Young Man of Television."
But in her new memoir, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling, daughter Anne Serling offers a behind-the-scenes view from her childhood with stories of his humor and his devotion to his family. She tells of her famous father addressing loving notes to her as "Miss Grumple" and signing them "Roddy Rabbit," recalls him acting out impromptu scenes from Gone With the Wind (playing all the roles himself and using whatever props were on hand) and notes his fondness for pranks.
"When people saw this black-and-white image walking across the MGM soundstage with a cigarette and the tight lips and that serious expression, you wouldn't have known that he was very self-deprecating and extremely hilarious."
In some ways, As I Knew Him, released April 30 by Kensington Books, is Anne Serling's answer to previous biographies that painted a troubled soul "so remotely unfamiliar to me and distant from the dad that I knew." Her book begins with his final days at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., where he had been taken after a heart attack at the family's cottage on Cayuga Lake. He was 50 years old, Anne barely 20.
After revisiting a few memories of summers on the lake, the story rewinds to Rodman Edward Serling's birth in Syracuse, N.Y., on Christmas Day 1924 and his family's move two years later to Binghamton, where his father opened a grocery. The Parlor City which escaped the brunt of the Depression thanks to Endicott Johnson and IBM Corp. provided an idyllic childhood filled with carefree summer nights and carousel rides, and he would later incorporate his yearning for those days into the autobiographical Twilight Zone classic Walking Distance.
The real world intruded when the United States entered World War II after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, which spurred Serling and a few of his Binghamton High School classmates to join the military right after graduation. As a Jew, Serling hoped to fight Nazis in Europe, but instead became a paratrooper in the Pacific theater.
In the battle for Leyte some of the fiercest fighting of the war many of Serling's comrades were killed, and bomb shrapnel hit his wrist and knee. The injuries earned him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, but would plague him for the rest of his life.
The psychological scars would never fade either: "What I vividly recall is my dad having nightmares, and in the morning I would ask him what happened, and he would say he dreamed the Japanese were coming at him. So it was always present, and clearly as he said he got it off his chest in his writing."
Indeed, many of his best scripts for The Twilight Zone and other anthology shows would explore the trauma of war: A Quality of Mercy imagines a bloodthirsty American soldier learning a lesson by trading places with his Japanese counterpart, and The Purple Testament imagines a G.I. who can see which of his platoon members will be the next to die.
Serling faced another blow just as the war ended: the death of his father, Sam, of a heart attack at 52. The Army did not grant Serling emergency leave, and he could not return to Binghamton for the funeral. "It is a loss of such magnitude," his daughter writes, "that he will never truly recover."
As I Knew Him then sketches out Serling's life after the war, as a student at Antioch College in Ohio (where he met and married his wife, Carol) and later as a struggling writer for radio. It was in the emerging television industry, though specifically, anthology shows that constantly require new scripts where Serling found his success. He launched into the upper stratosphere of TV writers with the 1955 broadcast of Patterns, a story centered on cutthroat corporate politics that rings true even today. He earned critical acclaim and an Emmy Award, and Kraft Television Theatre restaged the live production three weeks after its initial airing the first "rerun" of the television era.
By her count, Anne Serling has documented that her father wrote 252 scripts between 1950 and 1975 a breakneck pace that's nearly one script per month. After he achieved a measure of success, he accomplished this feat partly by acting out the scripts into a Dictaphone and letting a secretary transcribe them. Even so, the pace was grueling.
In a 1959 interview with journalist Mike Wallace, aired as The Twilight Zone began production, Serling said he was working 12 hours a day for seven days a week just to keep up with the enormous task of having complete creative control of a TV series. Before the show ended in 1964, he wrote 92 of 156 episodes.
"I was aware that he got up very early in the morning, but he was always there at the dinner table and he was there when I came home from school," she said. "We could sometimes play basketball quite a lot, actually. I never had the sense that my father wasn't available."
Anne Serling's childhood memories are alive and engaging, whether they are joyous watching The Flintstones with her dad, investigating his office looking for sweets and caring for the family's various pets or more somber, such as the day President John F. Kennedy was shot or how her family coped with her great-grandmother's death. Particularly vivid are times spent on Cayuga Lake, when Serling could slow down a bit and find more time for family activities. He also taught courses at Ithaca College, imparting his experience in the television business to the next generation.
"It was so different from the pace of Los Angeles. My mother had gone there every year of her life, and then my parents had their honeymoon there," Anne Serling said. "It was a place to unwind and relax there wasn't that constant frenzy. Even though he was still writing at the lake, it wasn't the same pace and he could relax."
In the late 1960s, her father moved beyond The Twilight Zone, creating a short-lived Western series called The Loner as well as hosting and writing for the 1970-73 series Night Gallery; the latter became a disheartening experience because of clashes with producers over the show's direction and tone.
Despite warning signs some more obvious in hindsight Rod Serling continued on the writing treadmill and suffered his first heart attack in May 1975. After a second one two weeks later, doctors decided to perform open-heart surgery, then still a new procedure. From his hospital bed, he told Anne he was confident but to his doctor, he darkly joked, "I think my survival chances may have been better in the war."
Her father's sudden death sent Anne into depression. For many years, she suffered from what she calls "complicated grief," becoming agoraphobic and numb, shunning emotional ties. As I Knew Him describes her slow emergence from the darkness, aided by therapy and the love of her husband, Doug and in the fall of 1983, she finally revisited his grave in the cemetery near the Cayuga Lake cottage, where she found someone added a simple yet profound message: "He left friends."
"Maybe I find some comfort in this message left behind," she writes. "Perhaps there is some element of peace, at last, not only in the realization that I have finally done this, but also in the quiet and the recognition that I don't need to be here to find my father."
Looking back on his career, Rod Serling famously said that "good writing, like wine, has to age well, and my stuff has been momentarily adequate." He even sold off the rights to his greatest work, The Twilight Zone, because he never thought it would recoup the money his production company had spent to make it.
His daughter thinks that he'd be stunned to know that his stories live on, through TV marathons on holidays, a 1980s Twilight Zone film, several attempts at re-launching the series, and even a theme park thrill ride. The best Twilight Zone moments have become cultural touchstones, from Burgess Meredith's broken glasses and "it's a cookbook!" to Talky Tina and the lonely hitchhiker. The show that was never a ratings success has become the standard against which other science fiction shows are measured.
What would Serling think of life in 2013? After all, we're living in a future stranger than any Twilight Zone episode could have predicted 50 years ago. His daughter believes he'd be intrigued and appalled by what television offers today so much more than the mere three networks of 1975 and he would see the opportunities that those other outlets and the Internet offer to get his stories out to viewers without interference from meddling sponsors.
"I often wonder today, with a computer, how much more prolific he would have been," she said, "Once he mastered the computer, which would have been a little bit of a challenge, because he wasn't mechanically inclined but once he mastered it, I think he would have loved it."
Jodi Serling was born on May 29, 1952 as Jodi Suzanne Serling. She is known for her work on The Twilight Zone 60th: Remembering Rod Serling (2019), CBS News Sunday Morning (1979) and As Timeless as Infinity: The Twilight Zone Legacy (2014).
In 1925, the Serling family father Samuel, mother Esther (Cooper) and older brother Robert moved to Binghamton, New York. Sam Serling opened a Sanitary Grocery store, a division of the Cooper grocery chain owned and operated by his wifes family. When the store was forced to close during the Great Depression, Sam Serling opened his own wholesale butcher shop. Rod used his bicycle to deliver meats, and his great personality and charm would bring him larger than average tips.
At an early age, Rodie was fascinated by show business. He loved radio shows and would often act out the stories he recently heard. He also loved to read comic books and would re-enact the stories, playing all the roles. His father built a small stage in the basement where Rod and friends would put on plays and musicals. Robert Serling later said that Rod would often charge admission to his performances.
When Rod moved on to Binghamton Central High School, he got involved in athletics, and also worked on the school newspaper,The Panorama, later becoming editor. He wrote many editorials, voicing his strong opinions on many subjects, but his main focus was on the war. He always encouraged his teachers and fellow students to help with the war effort.
World War 2 ~ Rod Serling graduated from high school on January 15, 1943. In a class of 185, Rod was ranked 35. On the morning of January 16, Rod Serling, now 18, enlisted with a few friends in the United States Army. Rod desperately wanted to become a tail-gunner in the Army Air Forces, but due to his poor eyesight, was rejected. While being processed for the infantry at Fort Niagara, Rod decided to become a paratrooper.
At only 5 feet, 4 1/2 inches, Rod was 1 inch short of meeting the height requirement. Due to his stubborn persistence, Rod was soon allowed to join the newly-formed 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division. After four months of basic training at Toccoa, Georgia, Rod was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, for his jump training. Rod received his Silver Wings and was now a full-fledged Army paratrooper.
On April 25, 1944, the 11th Airborne Division was sent to California to be shipped to the Pacific Theater of Operations to combat the Japanese. Rod Serling, being of Jewish descent, had hoped to be sent to Europe to fight against Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.
The 11th Airborne Division landed in New Guinea in July of 1944. Serling and his fellow paratroopers went through intense advanced jungle training. During a USO tour, comedian Jack Benny visited the 511th Infantry Regiment in New Guinea. During this tour, Private First Class Rod Serling wrote a short propaganda skit that was broadcast over the Armed Forces Radio Network. This was Rod Serlings first attempt at writing for radio, and following the war, Rod would soon pursue writing with great enthusiasm.
In November of 1944, Rod Serling first experienced real combat action during the Battle of Leyte Island in the Philippines. Since Serling was prone to wandering off and not taking proper care of his equipment, he was assigned to the 511ths demolition platoon. This platoon had the highest casualty rate, and Rod was witness to the horror and atrocities of war for the first time.
On February 3, 1945, Serling and his fellow paratroopers boarded a C-47 cargo plane and made ready for a jump on Tagaytay Ridge near Manila. Fifteen hundred paratroopers linked up with the rest of the division for the Allied drive on Manila, where they encountered fierce resistance from the Japanese. During one encounter, Serling came upon a Japanese soldier who had him square in his rifle sights. Rod froze and faced certain and immediate death, only to be saved by a fellow G.I. who was able to shoot over Rods shoulder and kill the enemy.
While in Manila, Serling was wounded with shrapnel in his wrist and knee. He was sent for rehabilitation to New Guinea. In May of 1945, Serling rejoined the 511th in the Philippines. When the war ended in August 1945, only 30% of Serlings original regiment from Camp Toccoa had survived the war. To commemorate his wartime experiences, Rod had a bracelet made and wore it proudly on his left wrist. Rod Serling was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantrymans Badge.
Shortly after his discharge from the Army, Serling moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he enrolled at Antioch College. In the fall of 1946, Rod worked at public radio station WNYC in New York City as an Antioch College intern. While there, Rod performed in many live radio plays. (The Rod Serling Archive at the Bundy Museum of History and Art has three of these radio broadcasts on CD). One of his first assignments was to write a 15-minute script for the countrys first Veterans Day commemoration.
In June of 1948, Rod Serling married fellow Antioch College student, Carol Kramer. Later that year, Rod Serling became the manager of the campus radio station. Rod began to write dramatic anthology scripts. One of his scripts, To Live A Dream, later won third prize in a contest sponsored by the Dr. Christian program, starring Jean Hersholt as the title character.
After graduation, Serling worked at radio station WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio. Serling disliked the jingles and campy hillbilly shows he was forced to write for, and soon moved into writing for TV shows, still in their infancy.
Rod Serling began to write for TV station WKRC in Cincinnati. From 1951 to 1953, Rod Serling wrote approximately 30 scripts for a live broadcast series titled The Storm. (One of these rare broadcast kinescopes, No Gods To Serve, is part of our Rod Serling Archive collection.)
Rod Serling, now a freelance writer, wrote approximately 90 scripts that were sold and produced on numerous TV anthology series from 1950 through 1960. These years are commonly referred to as the Golden Age of Television. Rod Serling first gained critical acclaim after his script for Patterns aired live on the Kraft Television Theatre, January 12, 1955. This show was repeated live a second time by popular demand on February 9, 1955. This script won Rod Serling his first Emmy Award.
Rod Serlings script Requiem For A Heavyweight was written for Playhouse 90, televisions first live 90-minute anthology series. It aired on October 11, 1956, and also was critically acclaimed, winning Rod Serling his second Emmy Award.
Rod Serling won his third Emmy for his adaptation of the Playhouse 90 program The Comedian, airing February 15, 1957, and starring Mickey Rooney. Because of severe censorship from both television producers and sponsors, Rod Serling found himself fighting against them to keep his material intact, much to no avail. The media soon dubbed Serling as Televisions Last Angry Man.
Rod Serling decided to leave writing for TV anthology series and begin writing for the science fiction/fantasy genre. He wanted to create, produce and write for his own proposed series, The Twilight Zone. He was heavily criticized for this venture, and CBS turned down his proposed pilot, titled The Time Element. Serling then sold his script to the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, which aired it on November 24, 1958.
After receiving over 6,000 letters, CBS was forced to take another look at Serlings proposed Twilight Zone series, this time telling him to make a new 30-minute pilot for the series. The new pilot, Where Is Everybody, aired on October 2, 1959, and Rods new series became a reality, running for five seasons and ending on September 18, 1964. Rod Serling won his fourth and fifth Emmys for his Twilight Zone series.
Rod Serlings next series, The Loner, a western starring Lloyd Bridges (Sea Hunt) as a Union Civil War veteran struggling to find himself in the west. CBS executives wanted Serling to write more action and violence into his scripts. They ordered 13 shows, and reluctantly renewed his contract for another 13 episodes. Serling refused to change his scripts as CBS requested, and other writers were hired to write many of the Loner scripts. CBS canceled the series after 26 episodes, and re-runs filled in for the balance of the season.
Rod Serling created a new series that eventually would air as Rod Serlings Night Gallery. The pilot for this series aired on November 8, 1969, as an NBC World Premiere Theatre. It consisted of three horror stories The Cemetery; Eyes, starring Joan Crawford and directed by first-time director Steven Spielberg; and Escape Route. Night Gallery started in 1970 and ran for only three seasons.
Rod Serling wrote a few memorable scripts, including Theyre Tearing Down Tim Rileys Bar, The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes, and The Messiah on Mott Street, starring Edward G. Robinson. Rod Serling had no creative control of the series and realized his name was being used to promote the series, being nothing more than the host. His proposed series had been hijacked by the network executives. Numerous Serling scripts were rejected, and he was basically told not to submit more scripts. He hated the comedy sketches, which he felt ruined the series.
Rod Serling wrote many scripts for both television and movies. Rod Serling won his sixth Emmy for his adaptation of Its Mental Work, airing on Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theater on December 20, 1963. Rod Serling holds the record of honor for the most Emmy Awards received for television script writing.
Rod Serling always wanted to become a famous writer for the movie industry. He did write a few memorable movies Seven Days In May (1964), co-wrote Planet of the Apes (1968), and The Man (1972). Three of his live TV scripts, Patterns, Requiem for a Heavyweight and The Rack, were also filmed as movies.
Rod Serling, byname of Rodman Edward Serling, (born December 25, 1924, Syracuse, New York, U.S.died June 28, 1975, Rochester, New York), American writer and producer of television dramas and screenplays who was perhaps best known for his work on the series The Twilight Zone (195964).
Serling served in the U.S. Army during World War II and began writing scripts for Cincinnati radio and television stations while a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio (B.A., 1950). In 1951 he began selling television dramas to live network series and quickly became one of the mediums leading writers: over the next four years, he sold 90 freelance scripts. He won a 1955 Emmy Award for his script Patterns, a story of ruthless business executives, and a 1957 Emmy for his script Requiem for a Heavyweight. Serlings dramas were often controversial, and despite his protests such scripts as A Town Has Turned to Dust (1958), about lynching, and The Rank and File (1959), about labour-union corruption, were extensively revised by CBS-TV censors.
Tired of battling censors, Serling abandoned writing realistic scripts in order to write, produce, and narrate the science-fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone, which became known for its unexpected plot twists and moral lessons; for this he won a third writing Emmy, in 1959. He also wrote screenplays, often based on his television scripts, such as Patterns (1956) and The Rack (1956). He was also coauthor of The Planet of the Apes (1968). Among his later projects, he hosted the fantasy anthology series Rod Serlings Night Gallery (197073) and taught dramatic writing at Ithaca College in New York.
He was one of the best known and most honored writers in television. Such plays as Patterns and Requiem for a Heavyweight were prestigious highlights of televisions Golden Age of drama in the 1950s. They were later made into motion pictures.
In addition to his Twilight Zone and Night Gallery programs, Serling was known for frequent appearances as host or narrator on such specials as the Jacques Cousteau series. He appeared in many TV commercials also.
Serling constantly chided television for not living up to its potential as a dramatic and cultural medium and for its censorship. He was the first writer to be president of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.Get in Touch with Mechanic