<% AuthorName="Rod Serling" %> Ohio Reading Road Trip | Rod Serling Biography
Ohio Reading Road Trip
Literary Ohio For Students Links
Ohio Authors For Teachers About ORRT

Ohio Authors
Research Links and Resources
Selected Bibliography
Criticism and Reviews
Writers' Thoughts on Writing
Ohio Authors Information

Rod Serling
Born: December 25, 1924
Died: June 28, 1975

"You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination - next stop, the Twilight Zone!"

Twilight Zone creator, Rod Serling, was born Edward Rodman Serling on Christmas day in Binghamton, New York, 1924. A fun, friendly, and good-looking young man, he was brimming with great ideas, inspired by movies and "pulp" magazines he'd read, and zealous in his efforts to share them. "The big treat for the family," says Serling's brother Robert of his and Rod's childhood, "was to drive from Binghamton to Syracuse, which was seventy miles away, and my father once tipped us off that nobody was to say a word from the start of the trip until Rod stopped talking. Now, in those days it took approximately two and a half hours to drive the seventy miles and, so help me, he never stopped talking from the time he got into the car to the time we arrived in Syracuse."

After high school, the eager and ambitious young Serling enlisted in the army, where he received a Purple Heart; upon his discharge, he attended college at Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio. There he majored in literature and became heavily involved with writing and producing for Antioch's radio station. He also met -- and eventually married -- Carolyn Kramer, with whom he would have two daughters.

Following graduation, Serling's amateur experience naturally progressed to a job in professional radio at nearby WLW, in Cincinnati. Unfulfilled by the trite advertising and comedic work the station offered, Serling chose to abandon a traditional career and pursue a full-time career as a writer. In the early 1950s, he and his family left Ohio for Connecticut, where Serling began writing -- and selling -- scripts for television production. By the middle of the decade, Serling had earned a name for himself in the business when one of his plays, Patterns, aired and received tremendous viewer response and critical acclaim. It was nonetheless surpassed one year later by his own Requiem for a Heavyweight, which won five Emmy awards. As fate would have it, though, neither one of these productions would outshine his next creative effort.

In 1957, Serling approached CBS executives with a new idea, a "pilot episode for a weekly science fiction-fantasy series called The Twilight Zone." They grudgingly committed to first one, then two, episodes; when both received enormous viewer response, CBS approved The Twilight Zone for one season, starting in 1959.

Serling assembled a talented group to help him create the show -- some of the finest directors, actors, and writers of the time joined the cast and crew. Serling cast himself as narrator of the haunting series -- a role that further endeared him to the program's regular viewers. The Twilight Zone also became an early example of a marketing success story, spawning Twilight Zone books, comic books, games, and magazine spin-offs. But beneath the commercial appeal, the series often dealt indirectly with serious social issues, such as racism and the Cold War.

After three successful seasons, Serling began to feel tapped out; though he agreed to continue writing and narrating Twilight Zone, Serling left the production and taught for a year at his alma mater, Antioch. The network tried desperately to continue the show without Serling's major influence, but in 1964, five years after it began, Twilight Zone was cancelled due to falling ratings.

Serling continued writing for television and movies, including the screenplay for Planet of the Apes, and he frequently hosted other television and radio programs after Twilight Zone; Serling also published books and continued teaching, at Ithaca College in New York State.

When he was fifty years old, Serling suffered a minor heart attack and later died during a heart bypass operation. Before the year, 1975 ended, a posthumous Emmy award was granted in Serling's name for all of the successful work he'd completed in television. His advice to young writers, given in an interview just weeks before his death, is this: "somehow, some way, incredibly enough, good writing ultimately gets recognized…If you're a really good writer and deserve that honored position, then by God, you'll write, and you'll be read."

© 2004 ThinkTV Network - Greater Dayton Public Television