Rod Serling

Active - 1956 - 2000  |   Born - Dec 25, 1924 in Syracuse, New York, United States  |   Died - Jun 28, 1975   |   Genres - Drama, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Nature

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

A master of suspense and the bizarre, Rod Serling is best remembered for his groundbreaking sci-fi television anthology series The Twilight Zone (1959-1965). Born in Syracuse, NY, the son of a wholesale meat dealer, Serling had a life-long interest in science fiction and the supernatural. During WWII, he served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army 11th Airborne Division. While in the military, Serling was also a noted boxer. Following an honorable discharge in 1946, the result of a shrapnel wound, he attended Antioch College and majored in physical education and then literature. While there, he began writing, directing, and acting in locally produced radio plays. In 1949, he sold his first television script, "Grady Everett for the People." He came to Hollywood to write teleplays full-time in the mid-'50s. Early on, Serling was noted for his intelligent and offbeat scripts. His teleplay Patterns earned him his first of five Emmys. With the Twilight Zone, Serling served as the host and oversaw each of the two stories presented per episode. He wrote many of the stories himself, most of which were known for their ironic twists. Serling also wrote a few screenplays, including Planet of the Apes (1968). Later, he returned to television to launch other anthology series such as Rod Serling's Night Gallery. He also was noted as the distinctive narrator of the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau documentaries. In addition to his television career, Serling often did cross-country college campus lectures and for a time was a professor at Antioch College. He died in 1975 during open-heart surgery.

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  • Joined the Army the day after graduating from high school and served as a paratrooper and demolition expert in the Pacific during World War II; was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
  • Was a Golden Gloves boxer in the Army.
  • Wrote numerous scripts for radio and TV after leaving the Army and graduating from college; big break and first Emmy came with his 1955 business drama Patterns, which became the first TV program to be rebroadcast due to popularity.
  • Best known for creating, producing, hosting and writing more than half of the scripts for The Twilight Zone, the cult-classic series which also spawned movie and TV-series reboots.
  • Cowrote the 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes.
  • Hosted the syndicated game show Liar's Club in 1969.
  • Wrote the pilot script for the horror anthology series Night Gallery, which was the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg. 
  • Was posthumously inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1985.
  • Was featured on a U.S. stamp released in 2009 as part of the 'Early TV Memories' stamp collection.