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Also Known As: Rodman Edward Serling Died: June 28, 1975
Born: December 25, 1924 Cause of Death: heart attack during open heart surgery
Birth Place: Syracuse, New York, USA Profession: screenwriter, host, narrator, boxer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Best-remembered for creating, producing, hosting and (sometimes) writing the classic TV horror and sci-fi series "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-64), Serling himself preferred his earlier TV writing. He grew up in the bucolic small town of Binghamton, NY, a milieu he would often return to in his work. After serving as a paratrooper in WWII, Serling wrote radio plays at college and eventually turned pro. He broke into TV in 1951, and was soon supplying scripts for "Kraft Television Theater" (NBC), "Studio One" (CBS), "Matinee Theater" (NBC) and "Playhouse 90" (CBS). Serling's first big hit was the psychological drama "Patterns", shown on "Kraft Television Theater" in 1955 and made into a film that same year. Winning the first of six Emmys, he was signed to a first-purchase rights contract by CBS and went on to pen the Emmy-winning dramas "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956) and "The Comedian" (1957), and scores of other TV scripts.But it took "The Twilight Zone" to make him a star, in a way few writers ever attained. The darkly handsome Serling hosted the clever, adult series, introducing each episode in his own sly, velvety-voiced style. The high quality of the show not only attracted many old-time...

Best-remembered for creating, producing, hosting and (sometimes) writing the classic TV horror and sci-fi series "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-64), Serling himself preferred his earlier TV writing. He grew up in the bucolic small town of Binghamton, NY, a milieu he would often return to in his work. After serving as a paratrooper in WWII, Serling wrote radio plays at college and eventually turned pro. He broke into TV in 1951, and was soon supplying scripts for "Kraft Television Theater" (NBC), "Studio One" (CBS), "Matinee Theater" (NBC) and "Playhouse 90" (CBS). Serling's first big hit was the psychological drama "Patterns", shown on "Kraft Television Theater" in 1955 and made into a film that same year. Winning the first of six Emmys, he was signed to a first-purchase rights contract by CBS and went on to pen the Emmy-winning dramas "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956) and "The Comedian" (1957), and scores of other TV scripts.

But it took "The Twilight Zone" to make him a star, in a way few writers ever attained. The darkly handsome Serling hosted the clever, adult series, introducing each episode in his own sly, velvety-voiced style. The high quality of the show not only attracted many old-time guest stars (Ed Wynn, Gladys Cooper, Buster Keaton, Burgess Meredith, Franchot Tone), but introduced several newcomers to the public (Robert Redford, Jean Marsh, Inger Stevens, Elizabeth Montgomery, Burt Reynolds, a very young Ann Jillian). When the show went off the air (still at the height of its popularity), Serling never quite regained his footing.

Serling's dark western series, "The Loner", lasted only one season (1965-66) on CBS, and his movie "The Doomsday Flight" (NBC, 1966) tortured him by inspiring an actual hijacking.

Serling's big-screen career never really took off. He wrote a handful of films, among them "Saddle the Wind" (1958), "Seven Days in May" (1964) and "Assault on a Queen" (1966), but his only big hit was the 1968 sci-fi classic "Planet of the Apes" (written with Michael Wilson). He also hosted a game show, "The Liar's Club" (syndicated, 1969), and lent his distinctive voice and image to many documentaries and advertisements. Serling's next series, "Night Gallery" (NBC, 1971-73), was no "Twilight Zone", but it did occasionally shine--the premiere, directed by neophyte Steven Spielberg, brilliantly showcased Joan Crawford. In his last years, Serling wrote the TV movies "A Storm in Summer" and "A Storm in Winter" (both NBC, 1970), and "Oath: The Sad and Lonely Sundays" (ABC, 1976). A heavy smoker, Serling was only 50 when he died during bypass surgery in 1975.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Twilight Zone--The Movie (1983) Narration
2.
 Outer Space Connection, The (1974) Narration
3.
 Deadly Fathoms (1973) Narration
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Served as paratrooper in Pacific, WWII
1948:
Worked as manager of Antioch College's radio station
:
Earliest TV writing experience, creating episodes of the anthology drama programs, "Kraft Television Theater" and "Studio One"
:
Wrote for the CBS adventure series, "Appointment with Adventure"
:
Wrote for the syndicated anthology series, "Matinee Theater"
1956:
First teleplay adapted for film, "The Rack"
1958:
First credit as screenwriter, "Saddle the Wind"
:
Wrote for the CBS suspense anthology series, "Pursuit"
:
Created, executive produced, hosted and often wrote for the CBS horror and fantasy anthology series, "Twilight Zone"
:
Created the CBS Western series, "The Loner"
1966:
Wrote first TV-movie, "The Doomsday Flight", for NBC
1969:
Hosted the syndicated game show, "The Liar's Club"
:
Created the short-lived ABC drama series, "The New People"
:
Created and hosted the NBC horror and fantasy anthology series, "Night Gallery/Rod Serling's Night Gallery"
1976:
Last writing for TV included the ABC medical anthology drama pilot, "Oath: The Sad and Lonely Sundays"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Antioch College: Yellow Springs , Ohio - 1946 - 1949

Notes

Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame posthumously in 1985

Received the Purple Heart for service in WWII

Original introduction to "The Twilight Zone": "You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead--your next stop, The Twilight Zone!"

"The writer's role is to be a menacer of the public's conscience...Drama on television must walk tiptoe and in agony lest it offend some cereal buyer from a given state below the Mason-Dixon. Hence we find in this mass medium a kind of ritual track-covering, in which we attack quite obliquely the business of minority problems."--Rod Serling, 1968, quoted in WASHINGTON POST obituary, June 29, 1975

"One time we couldn't mention Hitler's gas ovens because the gas company sponsored the show. Television...has become more mature. Just to deal with homosexuality is a big step."--Rod Serling, 1973, quoted in WASHINGTON POST obit, 6/29/75

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Carolyn Louise Serling. Married on July 31, 1948; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Samuel Lawrence Serling. Wholesale butcher. Worked as secretary for General George C. Goethals, supervisor of construction on the Panama Canal; born 1890, died died of heart attack at age 55 in 1945.
mother:
Esther Serling. Died 1958.
brother:
Robert Serling. Novelist. Older; survived him.
daughter:
Jody Serling. Born c. 1950; survived him.
daughter:
Nan Serling. Born 1955; survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man" Dutton
"The Twilight Zone Companion" Bantam Books

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