|IT WOULD BE difficult to imagine a Twilight Zone without the genius of Rod Serling. And it's likely Rod would have had far less impact on the television industry without the help and support of Carol Kramer Serling, his wife. Their marriage provided Rod with sufficient motivation to persevere in spite of "forty rejection slips in a row," (as he once described it), leave the security of Cincinnati, and head for New York City just in time to assume a pioneering role in the developing TV medium.
Television was lucky to have Serling. Long before the creation of The Twilight Zone, he had participated in the early shaping of TV drama, writing for such landmark programs as the Hallmark Hall of Fame, Studio One, Kraft Television Theater, and Playhouse 90. Rod was one of a handful of gifted young writers to whom the industry turned for direction during its "Golden Age." By 1959, the year The Twilight Zone had its debut, Serling had received three TV Emmys and a Peabody Award - the first ever awarded to a writer.
The rapid transition from struggling playwright to successful producer put pressures on Serling and his family. "He was basically a writer," Carol recalls, "and a writer is a very solitary person who does his best work off by himself. In fact, he was nervous at first about appearing as an on-camera narrator for his own show. But I think he got comfortable with it after a while. He did have a very gregarious side, too."
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"He was nervous about appearing as an on-camera narrator for his own show."
"After the first success, Rod began to wonder if it was real, if he could ever achieve thatSerling: We were graduated in 1950. Rod's first job out of college was at a radio station in Cincinnati. He had worked all over the country in radio during his Antioch college work periods. I think they were generally offering $45 or $50 a week. And WLW offered him the princely sum of $75 a week about two days before graduation.
level of success again."
"He was — I don't know how to put this exactly — a liberated male. He never drewSerling: Well the summer place has been in my family forever. I've been spending summers up there forever.
the sharp lines of demarcation: 'This is women's work and this is men's work."
"He used to say that the ultimate obsenity is not caring, not doing somethingSerling: At Ithaca he did a week-long seminar in the fall and one in the spring and a couple of other short courses. The kids loved them, because they got a credit for a week-long course. And what did they do? They sat and watched film! Then they had to critique it. But Rod was an easy grader. He hated to fail anyone!
about what you feel."
|Rosenbaum: All his life Rod was a man passionately devoted to justice. He spent a lot of his time fighting the network, the censors. It must have been hard in those later years to see the country tearing itself apart. It must have been demoralizing for a writer so optimistic about the human spirit.
Serling: You couldn't be more right. He used to say the ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in; becoming narcissistic.
I remember when he was in the hospital after his heart attack, and the whole Watergate thing was going on. I used to have to turn the television off, because he was getting so upset! He was so angry at what was happening in Washington, and the fact that so many people didn't seem to be concerned.
He cared very deeply about things and felt that it was - it sounds pretentious - it was our responsibility to do something about it. I don't know how he'd feel about the current scene now, but he'd probably be out on some soap box somewhere.
"He cared very deeply about things and felt that