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.

Corwin with SF

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.

***

Photo courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. WordPress followers, just hit “follow” at the top of the page.

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 12/27/2012, in Rod Serling, Twilight Zone and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. And like so many of the classic Twilight Zone episodes, this one has transcended the series itself and become part of our popular culture. Thanks for posting this great stocking stuffer. :)

  2. Thanks, Keith! So true. As you can see, it inspired two posts only a few days apart, and I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface here. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. “Night of the Meek” is one of the most beautiful TZ episodes. As you know, it’s one of my favourites, and the end narration always makes me cry.

    Like you, I very much enjoy a little behind-the-scenes information, and to see how something began as just an idea. This was definitely an interesting look into the mind of Serling. Who was himself a gift to the world. So appropriate that he was born on Christmas. A little nod from our Lord, perhaps? :)

    Wonderful post, my friend. I look forward to more like this one!

    • So glad you like this post, GF. I know you’re as touched by this episode as I am — I can’t watch it without getting misted up a bit, too. What a wonderful gift indeed. “A nod from our Lord” is a good way to put it!

  4. Like Rod Serling himself, “The Night of the Meek” is a true American classic! Thanks for posting this!

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