THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Unlocking The Door to a Television Classic

Very few television shows withstand the test of time, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone is one of the notable exceptions. Proven to be an important part of American culture since its debut on CBS in October 1959, many Hollywood producers, screenwriters and directors have been inspired and influenced by this series. Comic books, magazine articles, numerous television revivals, a major motion picture and even modern audio productions have been produced, showcasing the continuing popularity of this television classic. This definitive history presents a portrait of the beloved Rod Serling and his television program, recounting the major changes the show underwent in format and story selection, including censorship battles, production details, and exclusive memories from cast and crew. The complete episode guide recalls all 156 episodes of the series in detail that has never before been accomplished in any publication. This book will make you want to look back at the episodes once again, whether you are a casual fan or serious enthusiast of the series. Unlock the door to a television classic by reading about the in-jokes, bloopers, and other trivia associated with the behind-the-scenes production of . . . The Twilight Zone!


Winner of the Rondo Award for “Best Book of the Year”!


“Readers who feel they’ve entered this dimension before, namely via Marc Scott Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion years ago, are in for a treat. Grams has dug further than any other researcher into this durable anthology’s creation and history, a series which included amongs its fans novelist Ayn Rand and actress Jodie Foster. . . . The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic is a proud testament to the series’s enduring appeal.”
— Mark Phillips, book review issue #120 of Filmfax


“I’m blown away by the mass of data … by the attention to the smallest detail. You deserve the highest praise for this book. It puts everything else written about Twilight Zone in the shade. Monumental and fascinating, and hugely informative!”
— Science-Fiction author William F. Nolan


“The word DEFINITIVE is not one that should be bandied about loosely or bestowed too readily on any text. However, Martin Grams Jr.’s newest television history can, without reservation, be called definitive, essential, benchmark, and all other terms that indicate no collection should be without it.”
–Tony Fonseca, Dead Reckonings, Spring 2009


“… an 800-pager that contains not only episode details for even the most earnest fans but also plot synopses that should be of interest to writers of SF/Fantasy/Horror.”
— January 2009 issue of Planet Magazine


“Grams, steeped in television history and lore and author of over 12 other books, has included in the book everything which would inform and entertain Twilight Zone and TV buffs. This is a definitive guide to the series and welcome companion to reruns of it or of single shows.”
— Henry Berry, Press Book Review


“If there is anything to criticize in Martin Grams’ incredibly impressive Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to A Television Classic, it is the astounding size and voluminous nature of the text. Grams, who in the past has written a number of impressive works on various other old TV and radio shows, has done more than his homework on this subject, he has gone for his full doctorate in Twilight Zone history. Within the nearly 800 pages his phenomenal research has managed to reveal just about every fact, both major and trivial, that could be gleaned about the show, from budgetary breakdowns to contract disputes. For the average reader, even the average fan of the show, wading through this Goliath-like tome could easily be a daunting enterprise. It is best served not as a casual read but rather as the ultimate reference guide to the series, a volume to be consulted after watching an episode or digested slowly and methodically.”
— Bruce Dettman, Glass House Presents


“Highly recommended for community and academic library Television History and American Popular Culture reference collections, and a ‘must’ for the legions of Twilight Zone fans.”
— James A. Cox, Wisconsin Bookwatch


“While I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) fathom the kind of fan who needs to know the brand of typewriter ribbon Rod Serling used, I can’t imagine one who won’t find much of this inforamtion fresh and fascinating.”
— Mike Segretto, Psychobabble


“There have been plenty of books about the show but never as detailed as this one. This is the most complete title that no fan should miss.”
—  Gary Roen, The Midwest Book Review, September 2010


“Any fan of TZ is surely familiar with Marc Scott Zicree’s essential 1982 book The Twilight Zone Companion, which has been updated and kept in print for almost three decades. However, an author named Martin Grams, Jr. has trumped Zicree with a larger and even more comprehensive history of Serling’s show, The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Topping out at well over 800 (!) pages, Grams’ book—literally—contains everything you ever wanted to know about TZ. What dates did rehearsals and shooting occur for “To Serve Man?” How much did this prop cost? On which sound stage did this episode film inserts? It’s all here—every piece of TZ minutiae you can imagine is packed inside this book.”
— Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot


“I have gotten some good movies and books for review, and earlier this year I scored a copy of Martin Grams’ reference book The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. A winner of the 2008 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award for ‘Best Book of the Year,’ it is no longer in my ‘review’ pile or my ‘giveaway/donate’ pile, but on my shelves next to another indispensable reference book on classic genre TV, David J. Schow’s The Outer Limits Companion.”
— The Drunken Severed Head blog


“When Wikipedia doesn’t know something about The Twilight Zone, it picks up a copy of Martin Grams, Jr.’s The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Why? Because the belief that you can find anything on the internet simply isn’t true and this book proves it. All 800 pages are loaded with an unbelievable amount of information, 90% of which you wouldn’t imagine still even existed.”







Rather than hype the contents of the book, we instead decided to feature a reprint from one of the episode entries that can be found within the book. This way you get an idea of the extensive coverage given to all 156 episodes of the television series, and episodes that were never produced! The episode entry was selected as the author’s favorite episode of the series, and an episode most people are familiar with since it ranks as one of the top ten episodes of the television series.


Production #3612 “THE HITCH-HIKER” (Initial telecast: January 22, 1960)
Copyright Registration: © Cayuga Productions, Inc., January 21, 1960, LP16035 (in notice: 1959)
Dates of Rehearsal: July 24 and 27, 1959
Dates of Production: July 28, 29 and 30, 1959
Script #12 dated: July 7, 1959
Shooting script dated: July 27, 1959

Production Costs:
Producer and Secretary: $660.00
Story and Secretary: $4,454.00
Director: $1,250.00
Cast: $5,962.50
Unit Manager and Secretary: $520.00
Production Fee: $750.00
Agents Commission: $5,185.55
Legal and Accounting: $250.00
Below the line charges – M-G-M $24,872.77
Below the line charges – other $3,816.81
Total Production Costs: $47,721.63

Cast: Eleanor Audley (voice over telephone, Mrs. Whitney); Russ Bender (the counterman); Lew Gallo (the mechanic); Mitzi McCall (the waitress); George Mitchell (gas station attendant); Inger Stevens (Nan Adams); Leonard Strong (the hitch-hiker); Dwight Townsend (highway flag man); and Adam Williams (the sailor).

Stock Music Cues: Main Title (by Bernard Herrmann, :40); Summer Scene (by Bruce Campbell, :59 and :06); Mysterioso (by Gino Marinuzzi, :31); Star Chords (by Jerry Goldsmith, :04); Summer Scene (by Campbell, :14); The Knife (by Herrmann, :08); Hitch-Hiker – Part 3 (by Herrmann, :23); Tympani Punctuations (by Rene Garriguenc, :02); Thrust in the Dark (by Goldsmith, :14); Utility Cues (by Campbell, :17); Hitch-Hiker – Part 6 (by Herrmann, :08); Investigation #2 (by Garriguenc, 1:03); Passage of Time (by Garriguenc, :15); Hitch-Hiker – Part 3 (by Herrmann, :25); Passage of Time #2 (by Garriquenc, :14); Hitch-Hiker – Part 1 (by Herrmann, :13); Somber Apprehension (by Lucien Moraweck, :22); The Gold Hand (by Herrmann, :06); Knife Chord (by Goldsmith, :08); Somber Apprehension (by Moraweck, :48); High-to-Low Punctuations (by Moraweck, :08); The Search #3 (by Moraweck, :15); Hitch-Hiker – Part 6 (by Herrmann, :08); Hitch-Hiker – Part 4 (:40); Shock Therapy #2 (by Garriguenc, :23); The Station (by Herrmann, :05); Menace Ahead #2 (by Moraweck, :28); Discouragement #2 (by Moraweck, :17); Rapid Flight (by Goldsmith, :35); Somber Apprehension (by Moraweck, :10); Shock Therapy #4 (by Garriguenc, :35); Shock Therapy #2 (by Garriguenc, :15); Ran Afoul (by Goldsmith, :12); The Knife (by Herrmann, :08); Hitch-Hiker – Part 6 (by Herrmann, :09); Mad Harpsichord (anonymous, :05); Doom (by Goldsmith, :05); Run for Cover (by Goldsmith, :38); Strange Visit (by Goldsmith, :10); Into Danger (by Goldsmith, :17); Puncuation (by Moraweck, :05); The Secret Room (by Goldsmith, :59); The Secret Circle (by Goldsmith, :45); Hitch-Hiker – Part 7 (by Herrmann, :39); Hitch-Hiker – Part 8 (1:05); Hitch-Hiker – Part 7 (:05); and End Title (:39).

Production Credits
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens, a.s.c.
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Art Directors: George W. Davis and William Ferrari
Film Editor: Bill Mosher
Assistant Director: Edward Denault
Set Decorations: Henry Grace and Rudy Butler
Casting Director: Mildred Gusse
Sound: Franklin Milton and Jean Valentino
Directed by Alvin Ganzer.
Teleplay by Rod Serling, based on the 1941 radio play of the same name by Lucille Fletcher.

“Her name is Nan Adams. She’s twenty-seven years old. Her occupation – buyer at a New York department store. At present on vacation, driving cross-country to Los Angeles, California, from Manhattan. Minor incident on Highway 11 in Pennsylvania. Perhaps to be filed away under ‘accidents you walk away from.’ But from this moment on, Nan Adams’ companion on a trip to California will be terror; her route – fear . . . her destination . . . quite unknown.”

Plot: Shortly after having a blowout serviced along the highway, Nan Adams finds herself being haunted by an omnipresent, bedraggled little hitch-hiker. While he poses no real threat, the thin grey man in a cheap shabby suit keeps appearing off the side of the road ahead of her. The more she ponders how the hitch-hiker manages to accomplish this, the more scared she gets. In fear, she spends three days and three nights driving non-stop. Towns without names, landscapes without form, all closing in on her. She picks up a different hitch-hiker, a young boy recently released from the military, to keep her company. But when he finds her acting peculiar, he exits the vehicle quickly. Finally, to keep her sanity, Nan stops off at a diner in Tucson, Arizona, to phone long-distance to her mother. She discovers that her mother is in the hospital due to a nervous breakdown caused by the death of her daughter. Apparently Nan never survived the accident in Pennsylvania in which a tire blew out and the car overturned. In a daze, Nan returns to her car, and seeing the hitch-hiker in the back seat, agrees to take him where he wants to go . . .

“Nan Adams, age twenty-seven. She was driving to California. To Los Angeles. She didn’t make it. There was a detour . . . through the Twilight Zone.”

Trailer: “Next week you’ll drive with Miss Inger Stevens, who starts out on what begins as a vacation and ends as a desperate flight. She begins her trip next week on The Twilight Zone. And you’ll be with her when she meets . . . The Hitch-Hiker. We hope you’ll be alongside. Good night.”


“This is not science fiction; it’s sheer fantasy we’re doing,” Serling told columnist John Crosby. “One of the real strengths of the show is that we’ve written the scripts with specific people in mind and most of the actors we’ve approached have accepted the roles.”

Inger Stevens was formerly under contract with Paramount Studios, but was put under suspension shortly before this episode went into production. She had refused to accept roles of “artistic mediocrity,” insisting that theatrical performers had the right and obligation to stand up for their personal and artistic convictions. Unable to appear in motion pictures, she accepted a number of roles in television programs that suited her fancy. “I want to be happy in my work,” she explained. “By making yourself happy through dramatic achievement, I believe you can make other people happy.”

Inger Stevens apparently took pleasure in her performance for this episode. The television critic for The Modesto Bee remarked “Miss Stevens doesn’t overdo her role and keeps fans wondering just what is wrong.”

According to a progress report dated April 30, 1959, this radio script was “under consideration” for purchase. On May 4, 1959, at the request of Rod Serling, Buck Houghton made arrangements to secure the purchase of Lucille Fletcher’s radio script, “The Hitch-Hiker,” for use on The Twilight Zone.

The original radio script, as chilling as the Twilight Zone screen adaptation, was dramatized on three separate occasions with Orson Welles playing the lead for each performance. Among them was a summer filler called Suspense (which would later become a long-running anthology program for 20 years), broadcast on September 2, 1942. The popularity of that particular Suspense broadcast demanded a repeat performance, so Welles obliged a month later on The Philip Morris Playhouse, on October 15, 1942. Four years later, Orson Welles re-staged the same radio play for The Mercury Summer Theater on the Air on June 21, 1946.

Too many books continue to reprint the same misinformation that the radio play was dramatized on The Mercury Theater on the Air in 1941. (One reference guide incorrectly states 1942.) For the record, there were two separate programs, The Mercury Theater on the Air (1938-1939) and The Mercury Summer Theater on the Air (1946), so not only have previous publications been reprinting the wrong year, but the wrong program as well.

“People listened in those days, and the voices of Agnes Moorehead and Orson Welles set the complete mood for a half hour. And along with the marvelous sound effects and music. I mourn the passing of good radio drama,” Lucille Fletcher recalled to columnist Robert Wahls in 1972. Bernard Herrmann composed and conducted the music for all three radio productions of “The Hitch-Hiker” because he was married to her at the time they were dramatized. Herrmann and Fletcher’s marriage ended in divorce in 1948, but excerpts for his rendition for the 1946 radio broadcast (not the 1942 broadcasts) was re-scored for this episode of The Twilight Zone.

It is not clear which of the broadcasts exposed Rod Serling to the chilling story, but he certainly remembered it and wanted to adapt it for his Twilight Zone series. Lucille Fletcher was represented by the William Morris office, so Buck Houghton made arrangements to negotiate the price. “In view of the prominence of this particular play, I think it unlikely that we will get it for under $1,000,” Houghton wrote. “May I suggest that we start at $750 and move to $1,000, if we must.”

One week later, the offer was rejected and Houghton wrote to Rod Serling, asking how desperate he wanted the story. “Lucille Fletcher has turned down $2,000 for ‘The Hitch-Hiker,’ when Alfred Hitchcock offered it,” Houghton explained. “I don’t know how much further we would have to go to get the property, but I think it is too high for us to explore.” Leo Lefcourt, the attorney for Cayuga Productions, however, was able to secure a firm price for the story through the William Morris Agency, and completed the purchase for the Twilight Zone. The price was $2,000 and a standard W.G.A. percentage rerun pattern based on $1,100. The story had not been done on television, either live or on film, giving the Twilight Zone adaptation an exclusive.

By July 1, the purchase was settled as Serling had intentions of finishing the first draft by July 17, and completed it 10 days ahead of schedule. According to production papers dated April 24, 1959, Robert Stevens was originally slated to direct the episode, with tentative dates of filming for July 27, 28 and 29, with rehearsal dates July 23 and 24.

The main protagonist of the radio play was a man, but Serling changed the sex to a woman, “because it’s pertinent and it’s dramatic to make it a woman,” he explained. “Nan” was a nickname of one of his daughters, Anne. If a press release from early January 1960 is accurate, Serling wrote the teleplay under six hours.

In an early draft of the script, Serling revealed Nan Adams as being thirty-one years old and the opening narration explained “minor incident just beyond the Pulaski Skyway that stretches over the Jersey Flats.”

Inger Stevens arrived in New York on Monday, November 30, to appear as a guest in a number of interviews, helping to plug her appearance in this episode. The interviews were all recorded and shelved for a January broadcast. Special art was designed for a January issue of The Chicago Tribune, with a picture of both Rod Serling and Inger Stevens, to help publicize this episode. This episode was originally slated for an initial telecast of December 4, 1959. Even TV Guide reported this broadcast date. For reasons unknown, most likely a scheduling issue, this episode was pushed to a later broadcast date.

Leonard Strong, who played the role of the hitch-hiker, made a career out of playing Asians in both motion pictures and television programs. During the Second World War, Strong got his acting break playing Japanese officers in a number of films, which led to his casting for roles of Chinese, Monks and foreign enemy spies.

A scene with Nan and a waitress was filmed (actress Mitzi McCall played the role of the waitress) in an early scene, but this never made the final cut. Her role was credited on the official press release, later reprinted in TV Guide, and was credited in a number of reference guides which should have not included McCall at all in the credits since she was never featured in the episode.

A large number of permissions and payments were made to acquire the rights to film on both public and private property. On the first day of filming, the scene involving the railroad crossing required two motorcycle officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, courtesy of arrangements made through Floyd Alexander at $3.78 per hour (plus $10 cash for rental of motorcycles for each of the officers). This was not just for the safety of the cast and crew – the officers kept traffic detoured momentarily while filming commenced. One Los Angeles County fireman was on hand, paid $24 for his time. Filming began at 7:45 a.m. before heavy traffic flooded the road at the crossing. Mr. Raymond Fansett of the S&P Railroad granted the filming crew permission to film on the tracks, provided the crew was insured in the event of an accident.

The second scene to be filmed on the first day was the service station where Nan noticed the funny-looking hitch-hiker in the mirror of her case and thanked the attendant for fixing her flat and checking the car’s fluids. This scene was filmed at the Enchanto Turnoff Chevron Service Station in Agoura, California (Cornell Corners). The service station was closed to the public during filming, which began at 11:30 a.m. Two Ventura County sheriff’s officers met Bill Venegas (the man in charge of the arrangements made for location filming), who earned a $3.00 per hour fee for ensuring traffic would not drive into the scene and interfere with filming. The manager of the service station received a $100 payment to accommodate for the temporary inconvenience and loss of revenue for the lack of customers.

The rest of the first day of filming was devoted to a highway montage and shots of an underpass. Various country roads were filmed. Two California State Highway Patrol officers from the West Los Angeles office were responsible for directing traffic during filming. The second day of filming was devoted to the remainder of the highway scenes and the roadblock detour scene. Once again, two state highway patrolmen were on hand during the filming. Two men from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department were available as well, paid by the location department of M-G-M $25.00 each for the second day of filming, made payable to the State Highway Recreation Fund. Cayuga and M-G-M both secured two single-day insurance policies at $2.50 each for both days of location filming. These permits, purchased consecutively from the Los Angeles Police Department, West Valley Division, and the Los Angeles Road Department (permits no. 311018 and 311019) cost Cayuga Productions $50.00 each.

After all the location shots were completed, the entire cast and crew returned to the M-G-M lot where the scene with Nan and the sailor were filmed in a mock-up of the car on Stage 22. The third and final day of filming included the interior of the diner, and Mrs. Whitney talking to Nan on the phone (both filmed on stage 4 at M-G-M); the exterior of the diner and the phone booth on stage 22; and the exterior of the highway and gas station (nighttime scenes) on Lot 3. If the gas station where Nan first meets the sailor appears familiar, it should. It was the same gas station seen in “Walking Distance,” also filmed on Lot 3. The sign hanging above read “Service Station: John Thompson, Prop.” This was a tip of the hat to John Thompson, one of the art directors for The Twilight Zone. This is the exact same sign that was hanging outside of the service station in the beginning scenes of “Walking Distance.” The “Lubrication” sign is the same featured in both episodes. (Even the front windows of the fake station are the same.) Before Inger Stevens was dismissed on the third and final day, her narration track was recorded on stage 22, shortly after the phone booth scene was completed. She recorded her narration twice – each on separate tracks to ensure if one got lost or damaged, there was still a backup copy.

On June 15, 1959, William Freedman, public accountant for Cayuga Productions, contacted Sam Kaplan of Ashley-Steiner to report that Ford Motors delivered to Cayuga at M-G-M for its use, a 1959 Ford Country Sedan (serial number G-9LG-109267). The car was kept at M-G-M for company business and for filming on shows or at times on location trips. This was one of those episodes that put the car to use. While Inger Stevens drove a 1959 Mercury in this episode (with a fake New York license plate, see below), the Sedan was used to transport some of the actors and crew to locations. Ford retained in its name the registration and legal ownership of the car, and James Lang of M-G-M’s insurance department and Lynn Welvert of Ebenstein & Company verified that Cayuga was covered for non-owned vehicles under its comprehensive general liability policy.

The generosity of Ford was, in part, an act of product placement. Houghton and the crew under employment of Cayuga ensured that most – if not all – of the vehicles in the episodes were Ford automobiles. This included Ford cars in “Walking Distance” and “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” By the third season of The Twilight Zone, Ford was being acknowledged in the closing credits (including “Five Characters in Search of a Exit” where the audience only catches a glimpse of a Ford car in the closing scenes).

The license plate on this car, New York State 2D 7876 was a prop and can be seen on the 1955 Lincoln concept car in the 1959 motion picture, It Started with a Kiss, produced by Arcola Pictures. The only license plate on the M-G-M lot that was off limits to any motion picture or television production was NICK-1, featured on the television program The Thin Man. The license plate was made of cardboard (also described as cardstock), and marked accordingly on the back so that other producers would know when the plate was last used, to ensure its reuse would not be too often or recent.

Set Decoration Production Costs
Interior of Diner (Stage 4) $400
Exterior of Gas Station (Lot 3) $250
Interior of Nan’s Car with Sailor (Stage 22) $50
Exterior of road with hitch-hiker (Stage 22) $100
Exterior of Phone Booth (Stage 22) $125
Total $925

Rod Serling’s teleplay made a return visit to television in April of 1997, when a remake of this classic Twilight Zone episode, entitled “End of the Road,” featured an updated take on the chilling story. Actress Nora Rickert played the role of Nan Adams, a college student on a road trip, who finds herself being terrorized by a mysterious hitch-hiker, played by Matthew Sutton. Scott Henkel directed the film.

In the episode “Why Are We Here?” of Everybody Loves Raymond, initially telecast on April 7, 1997, Robert has Debra call the local station to learn what episode of The Twilight Zone is scheduled for broadcast that evening. Debra learns that it’s “The Hitch-Hiker,” and Robert remarks how genius it was for death to be a little guy instead of a large, looming figure.


“To Serve Man” on RETRO GALAXY

“The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” on Martin Grams’ blog.


Click here for a PDF sample of this book

ISBN: 978-0970331090