December 25, 1924
Syracuse, New York, United States
June 28, 1975
Rochester, New York, United States
Screenwriter, Host, Narrator, Boxer
Carolyn Louise Serling
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.