Thank you Rod Serling

How to save the life of a lonely widower over a long, solitary ‘holiday’ weekend

Imagine, if you will, a widower living alone in a bungalow in Upstate New York. He is going out of his mind with thoughts of his dead wife. He doesn’t know if he can survive the long weekend. Then, purely by chance, he turns his TV to the Sci-Fi channel, where he discovers a marathon of continuous, nonstop episodes of The Twilight Zone.

The award-winning series, which ran from 1959 to 1964, was created by Rod Serling, who wrote more than 80 of the 156 episodes. Rod Serling was a man of brilliant and unlimited imagination, sadly a chain smoker who died in 1975 at the age of 50. [Rod Serling was a U.S. Army paratrooper with the 11th Airborne in World War II who saw an unforgettable amount of death in the Philippines — but that’s a story for another time.]

Let us return to our lonely widower in the bungalow in Upstate New York, where, incidentally, Rod Serling was born and died, respectively, in Syracuse and Rochester, New York.

The ever-bereft widower (it’s been three years for godsake!) spends the entire weekend — how many days? two, three, he doesn’t know — watching back-to-back episodes of The Twilight Zone, consuming countless shots of gin and becoming swept up in an other-world of ‘reefer madness.’ He truly, and as far as he knows, enters The Twilight Zone.

He becomes the lonely astronaut marooned on a distant planet; the writer who can bring people back to life by describing them to a tape recorder; the bitterly unhappy actor who becomes the blissful character he’s playing in a movie; the loser who can stop time with a magic stopwatch…

And from watching these episodes, our widower — anti-hero, madman, loser, alcoholic, solitary inhabitant of a planet that in his case is the planet Earth — comes, in an epiphany-like haze, to the startling and possibly life-saving conclusion (at least for the time being) that if he cannot be with his wife in reality because she is dead and unreachable and always will be since oblivion is an unreachable destination, then he will be with her in his own gin-soaked purple haze now known as — thank you Rod Serling — The Twilight Zone.

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Gig Young — Troubled gig ends with a .38-caliber slug


On the afternoon of October 19, 1978, in his Manhattan apartment, American actor Gig Young pointed a .38 caliber snub-nosed revolver at the back of his wife’s head and pulled the trigger. Kim Schmidt died instantly. She was 31.

Then he stuck the gun in his mouth and blew his brains out. He was 64. They had been married three weeks — the actor’s fifth wife. Police said it was either a suicide pact or murder-suicide. There was no note.

Alcohol destroyed Gig Young
Gig Young and Kim Schmidt

Gig Young won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the heartless marathon dance emcee in the 1969 psychological drama ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

The highly acclaimed movie starred Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin and Susannah York and was directed by Sydney Pollack. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards. Gig Young was the only winner.

Alcohol and pills destroyed Gig Young’s career. He collapsed on the set of the comedy ‘Blazing Saddles’ on his first day of shooting and was fired by director Mel Brooks. 

He was hooked on the tranquilizer Valium, taking seven pills a day, washed down with booze.

Alcohol destroyed Gig Young
Ronnie Howard and Gig Young in The Twilight Zone’s ‘Walking Distance’

Through all this he managed to keep working, including a famous role in a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode called ‘Walking Distance’ where he goes back to his home town and meets his former boyhood self.

But it all ended in Suite 1BB of the Osborne Apartments on West 57th Street in New York City.

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