Rod Serling was an American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator known for his anthology television series The Twilight Zone. Serling was known as the angry young man of Hollywood, often clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war.

A lot of his writing was influenced by his World War II service. Serling served as a paratrooper in the Pacific and took part in the Battle of the Philippines on Leyte and in the fighting in the capital of Manila. 

He was also a political activist, teacher, and test parachutist. He lived a full life that ended too soon when he died of a heart attack at the age of 50. 

Serling’s trademark narration that opened The Twilight Zone was mysterious, spooky, and mystical, if somewhat dark and foreboding, 

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”


An Early Interest in Radio and Film

Rod Serling was born on Christmas Day 1924, the second of two sons to Esther and Samuel Serling in Syracuse, New York. His father was an amateur inventor but had to switch jobs often during the Depression. Serling’s older brother Robert would later become a novelist and aviation writer.

The family moved to Binghampton, NY in 1926. There, Serling developed an interest in performing and would put on plays in his parents’ basement on a stage that his father had constructed. At a young age, he would entertain himself for hours by recreating scenes from films. He loved radio entertainment, specifically horror, thrillers, and fantasy shows.