“I Just Poured on the Coal”

“What’s going on here?! Where are we?! WHAT are we?!”

If you’re a Twilight Zone fan, you “heard” those sentences in your head. And they were spoken — or should I say bellowed? — by one of the most well-known actors to appear on TV in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s: William Windom.

William Windom Cropped

His first and most memorable role on TZ came in Season 3’s “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”. Murray Matheson gives a scene-stealing performance as the unflappable clown, but Windom’s hot-headed, impatient army major is the real focal point of the story.

His determination to find a way out of their odd, cylindrical prison brings him the answers to the questions quoted above. But being The Twilight Zone, he probably wasn’t happy with what he found out.

“I just poured on the coal,” Windom later said. “You try to make it as undoll-like as long as you can, which isn’t hard to do, because they’re all sort of strange people.”

16 (4)

When I read that quote recently, the reference to being “undoll-like” made me think of Windom’s second role on TZ. In “Miniature,” he plays Dr. Wallman, the psychiatrist who treats a man convinced that the female figurine he sees in a museum dollhouse is alive.

What an interesting coincidence, I thought, that both roles should center around dolls.

Then again, we ARE talking about The Twilight Zone, so … IS it a coincidence?

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***

Photos courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest

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

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About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 08/31/2014, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. And then eventually he’d become Dr. Seth Hazlitt on “Murder She Wrote”! My favourite character. Hmm, does that sound familiar, Boss? Maybe WE’RE in the Twilight Zone. ;)

    This is a cool quote from Windom, and I really enjoyed it when you first sent it to me.

    You know, I didn’t even realize that Windom had a second TZ role until you and I were talking about this post/quote. I know, I know, “Some Gal Friday YOU are, Gal Friday!” I hear you. ;P But what a lovely coincidence this turned out to be. How apropos… in the Twilight Zone.

    • Gee, why am I not surprised you mentioned Windom’s role as Seth Hazlitt? You’re right — we might just BE in the Zone after all! ;) Glad you enjoyed the quote and agreed that it would be make an entertaining mini-post. :)

      And I will forgo my usual chiding about you not knowing about Windom’s second TZ! For one thing, his part is relatively small — not a starring role. And secondly, as one of the hour-long episodes from Season 4, “Miniature” isn’t as famous as many other TZs. In fact, a legal dispute kept it out of the initial syndication package, making it even less well known.

      With any luck, I may raise a little awareness of it and help introduce it to a few fans. One can hope! Thanks again for your help, especially with the double pic of WIndom. You did a terrific job (in a hurry, on request) — as usual. Really dresses up the post! :)

  2. Some of the best episodes feature dolls, dummies, mannequins and robots. “Miniature” is one of (I know, I know) my favorite episodes. In addition to the plot and the acting, I really like the fact that the main character transcends his human form. He follows his heart in a way that one can only do in the Twilight Zone. I have to admit that until I read this, I didn’t realize that Windom stared in both episodes.Thanks for another great post.

  3. Always been a fan of anything William Windom! One of my favorites was the short-run series, “My World and Welcome to It (1969–1970),” but always loved his work, including, as Wendy points out, his Dr. Seth Hazlitt on “Murder She Wrote.” He had a great manner and voice!

    • Yes, it’s easy to see why he was so popular! He even played a good bad guy on “Mission: Impossible”! It’s too bad “My World” doesn’t appear to be out on disc. Anyway, glad you liked the post!

  4. “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” is one of my favorite TZ episodes. It has inspired many shows and films since. All roads lead back to The Twilight Zone.

    • They certainly do. “Five Characters” holds a special place in my heart, actually, because it was the first TZ I ever saw. Sucks me in every time!

  5. No Star Trek fans here? I have to mention Windom as Commodore Matt Decker in the ST:TOS episode “The Doomsday Machine.” Great performance.

    He also showed up a couple of times in Columbo (my favorite TV series from the ’70s): once as a District Attorney pal of the murderer in the original series pilot, “Prescription Murder”, and once as a business executive in love with Ida Lupino in “Short Fuse” (both minor roles).

    And “Five Characters” is one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, as well.

    • I’m glad you brought up those roles. Really shows the breadth of his talent. Amazing to think we could go on listing show after show — his resume is that extensive. What a body of work.

  6. To me Windom’s most powerful role in a Serling written show was not on Twilight Zone at all, but on the best episode of Night Gallery called “Their Tearing Down Tim Reilly’s Bar.” The third leg of Rod’s self reflective trilogy including “Patterns,” and “Walking Distance.”

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