The show was Rod Sterling’s baby and besides narrating the show and being the show’s producer, he also wrote or co-wrote 92 of the show’s 156 episodes. He was 35 years old at the time. This is an extraordinary accomplishment in the world of science fiction although it went beyond science fiction and ran right into horror. The episode called: “To Serve Man,” was just about as scary as War of the Worlds but the horror set in with the last line of the show. Basically, aliens had visited the earth, they said in peace, but at the end of the show a man deciphered a book the aliens had brought with them and it was a cookbook with humans as the main ingredient. I probably saw the episode about 50 years ago and I still remember it. By the way, Sterling launched another scary show, this time on NBC, called Night Gallery in 1969 and it ran through 1973.
The Twilight Zone was loaded with future Hollywood stars like Anne Francis, Burt Reynolds, Claude Akins, Jack Klugman, Martin Landau, William Shatner (before Star Trek), Ron Howard, etc. There were very few shows at the time that were considered the place to perform in just one episode.
The Twilight Zone gained traction again with a successful movie in 1983 followed by a television show that ran from 1985 thru 1989. The theme song for the new show was by The Grateful Dead.
Unfortunately Rod Sterling didn’t see the relaunch of his Twilight Zone creation as he passed away in 1975 at the age of 50. Sterling didn’t just smoke while he narrated the show, he smoked about three packs of cigarettes a day. Although he didn’t get lung cancer, he began having heart attacks. After his second heart attack it was decided he’d have open heart surgery but unfortunately, he suffered a third attack on the operating table and he never made it out of the hospital. He was greatly missed by not only people in the business but also at Ithaca College where he’d been a professor for almost 15 years.