Serling’s Santa Story
If you’re a writer, you never know when inspiration will strike. And if you’re Rod Serling, the idea you get might wind up being a holiday classic.
So it was when Serling came up with a legendary part for Art Carney — and the story for what would become the Twilight Zone episode “Night of the Meek.” As he told TV Guide:
I got the idea for this one watching a Santa Claus parade with my two kids a year ago, and noticed that on the Santa Claus float the worthy gentlemen chosen for the role must have been a last-minute and a third-string replacement. He weighed just a few pounds more than Slim Summerville, and his Santa Claus suit must have been dredged out of a canal someplace.
It suddenly came to me that perhaps there’s a story lurking somewhere in the whole concept of these guys who play Santa Claus for a living. And then I started to conceive of a tale of what would happen to an ersatz Kris Kringle if he suddenly found out that he was Santa Claus.
We all know what happened: Serling crafted a touching modern fable about a man who aspired to be the “biggest gift giver of all time.” The story of a third-string Santa was given a first-class treatment. And one of the most beloved Zone episodes was born.
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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!