Rod Serling, Writer
The story, as long-time fans well know, concerns a harried, overworked executive who keeps dreaming that his daily commuter train passes an idyllic, peaceful town called Willoughby. In the end, he decides to go there — and we see that Willoughby is really heaven.
Well, on this day in 1975, Serling made his own permanent stop at Willoughby, dying at the untimely age of 50. A steady stream of cigarettes, a family history of heart trouble, and an intense personality finally took their toll, and silenced a great voice.
In his last interview, Serling was asked how he wanted to be remembered. Here’s what he told Linda Brevelle of Writer’s Digest:
Brevelle: “And what do you want them to say about the writer Rod Serling a hundred years from now?”
Serling: “I don’t care. I just want them to remember me a hundred years from now. I don’t care that they’re not able to quote a single line that I’ve written. But just that they can say, “Oh, he was a writer.” That’s sufficiently an honored position for me.”
To say his reputation as a writer is secure is an understatement. As my Twitter page demonstrates on a daily basis, his many memorable lines remain very quotable. His signature series, The Twilight Zone, finds new fans every day.
I’m convinced that as long as good writing is recognized and appreciated, as long as talent and imagination is esteemed, Rod Serling will be toasted, honored — and remembered.
“There is just one thing I would like on my headstone,” he once said. “A line that reads only, ‘He left friends’.” May the same be said for all of us.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. You can also sign up for email notifications of future posts by clicking “follow” in the upper left-hand side of this page. Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!