“Rod Serling’s Wax Museum”

As Rod Serling might have put it, file it under “W” for “What might have been.”

Soon after Twilight Zone’s five-year run on CBS ended in 1964, Serling’s agent tried to sell the show to another network. CBS owned the rights to the name “Twilight Zone,” though, so when ABC’s Tom Moore expressed interest, they had to reframe the concept. Moore wanted to call it “Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves,” after a 1963 anthology of short horror stories edited by Serling.

NG frames

According to Marc Scott Zicree’s “Twilight Zone Companion,” though, the former Zone host was less than thrilled with this idea. His counter-suggestion: a series called “Rod Serling’s Wax Museum.” It would open with a shot of Boldt Castle on Heart Island, then move inside, where Serling would be standing next to a shrouded wax figure. He’d then say:

A hearty welcome to my wax museum. For your entertainment and edification, we offer you stories of the weird, the wild, and the wondrous; stories that are told to the accompaniment of distant banging shutters, an invisible creaking door, an errant wailing wind that comes from the dark outside. These are stories that involve the citizenry of the night. In short, this museum is dedicated to … goose flesh, bristled hair and dry mouths.

Then Serling would uncover the wax figure and begin his introduction of that episode’s story.

But as Zicree goes on to explain, neither man would budge. “We have what appears to be a considerable difference of opinion,” Serling told Daily Variety. “I don’t mind my show being supernatural, but I don’t want to be hooked into a graveyard every week.”

serlingNG

Serling would revive this format a few years later, turning it into an art museum, rather than a wax museum. And he’d get the series he wanted — for a while, at least.

Considering the popularity of the paintings that would adorn Night Gallery, perhaps it’s just as well that Serling’s initial concept didn’t work out. But imagine if Moore had been swayed. Would Rod Serling, and not Vincent Price, now be pop culture’s most famous fictional wax-museum curator?

***

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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

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About Paul

Hard-working, hard-playing fan of all pop culture, especially the Twilight Zone. Which led to a Twitter page. And then to a blog. And then to ... stay tuned. Yes, that's a picture of Rod Serling, not me. You can find the real me under the "Your Host" tab on my blog, along with biographical details that, while 100 percent accurate, sound kind of boastful and braggy. Sorry.

Posted on 06/12/2011, in Night Gallery, Rod Serling and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. So interesting to read about his original idea. While the art gallery theme of Night Gallery is wonderful, it’s really too bad that the wax museum didn’t come about. That intro is just delightful. I’m sure it would have been amazing.

    • No doubt. Both are intriguing framing devices, to be sure. What gets me is how Serling’s interests were leaning toward stories that were a bit spookier than what we typically got on Twilight Zone. He clearly wanted to explore some different ideas.

      I’m just glad they didn’t go with the Triple W concept. THAT sounds a bit too lurid for our Mr. S!

  1. Pingback: Boldt Castle – Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 3 of…. | Runnin Off at the Mouth....

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