Rod Serling Lives!

The Writers Guild of America recently asked its members to rate the 101 best-written shows in television history.

“The Sopranos” was Number 1. “Seinfeld” was 2nd. No surprises there.

But coming in 3rd: “The Twilight Zone.”

That’s right: a half-century-old black-and-white anthology is still called the 3rd best-written TV series ever.

DEE-DEE dee-dee DEE-DEE dee-dee…

Rod Serling

Those of us who remember creator/writer/host Rod Serling from his Westport days are not the only ones excited to hear the place “Twilight Zone” holds in America’s heart.

Mark Dawidziak of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

When you handicap the top three and adjust for short Hollywood attention spans, that’s practically saying “The Twilight Zone” is in a dimension all its own — far beyond the No. 1 spot….Submitted for your approval: the real winner of the Writers Guild poll.

It’s a stirring testament to the heroic influence of Rod Serling that, almost 54 years after “The Twilight Zone” debuted, so many television writers cite him and his “wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination” as inspirations. They couldn’t have better role models.

“The Twilight Zone” was a series with a social conscience and it was fantasy television that believed there was intelligent life on the other side of the television screen. It would be difficult to find a writer on any current fantasy, horror or science-fiction series who doesn’t count himself or herself as a proud descendant of the creator, host and principal writer of “The Twilight Zone.”

Westport has other connections to the Top 101:

  • In the final season of “I Love Lucy” — the #12 series –the Ricardos and Mertzes moved to Westport. (Hilarity of course ensued — click here.)
Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in "Westport." It says: "Yankee Doodle Day Celebration -- Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green."

Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in “Westport.” It says: “Yankee Doodle Day Celebration — Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green.”

  • 1985 Staples grad Paul Lieberstein is an “Office” (#50) writer/producer/actor (Toby Flenderson).
  • Rod Serling pops up again at #65, as a “Playhouse 90” writer.
  • Longtime resident Jack Klugman starred for a long time as Oscar Madison on “The Odd Couple” (#78).

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty more. I’m not looking for something as tangential as the fact that “All in the Family’s” (#4) Jean Stapleton’s cousin is Westport artist Alberta Cifolelli.

But click here for the full list. And if you’ve got a good Top 101/Westport connection, hit “Comments.”

9 responses to “Rod Serling Lives!

  1. Ned Batlin

    The West Wing # 10. Bradley Whitfords character Josh Lyman on the West Wing was from Westport.

  2. Debby Oestreicher

    Alan Brady of the Dick Van Dyke Show lived in Westport CT- mention is made of “going up to Westport to Alan’s house” in one episode.

  3. Once my younger sister was walking our dog in our yard. For some reason the dog ran into the street dragging my sister with him. I came out on our front terrace to find my mother talking with a kind, nice-looking man with a beautiful German Shepherd sitting beside him. He was pleasant and soft-spoken as my Mom thanked him for saving my sister (and the dog). The man was Rod Serling.

  4. Fred Cantor

    Playhouse 90 attracted a lot of big names and up-and-coming talent back in the day. Among the Westporters who acted in or wrote for the show (in addition to Rod Serling) were Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards, Robert Redford, and A. E. Hotchner. There were probably others.

    Also, Staples soccer alum Kenny Schwartz worked on The Larry Sanders Show.

    • Gary Singer

      Don’t forget Jack Klugman who starred in a few Twilight Zone episodes.
      And who will ever forget, “Next Stop, Willoughby”?

  5. marc bailin

    Dan. As a High Point Road alum, you will probably remember that the Serlings lived catty-corner from our house… the house then occupied by the Leffs. When the show took off, Rod et al apparently had to head for the left coast….

  6. Chris Weissman

    Serling lived at 14 High Point Road. I grew up in that house and always found it a little creepy to live in a house where many episodes were written

  7. Bev Breault

    Christopher Lloyd. actor/writer