Today in History: Twilight Zone Creator Rod Serling is Born

rod serling

Rod Serling was born in Syracuse on Christmas Day in 1924. He won multiple awards over the course of his career including six Emmys, two Writers Guild of America Awards, and a Golden Globe. At the age of two, his family moved south to Binghamton, where his father opened a grocery store.

Serling graduated from Binghamton High School in the midst of World War II and immediately joined the cause. Though he had hoped to join the cause in Europe, he was sent to the Pacific Theater as a paratrooper, where he earned a Purple Heart. The injuries he incurred would later fuel some of his writing. After returning from war, he attended Antioch College in Ohio.

READ: Serling’s Final Interview

Serling’s career was launched with the TV drama Patterns, that would go on to win him his first Emmy in 1955.  Four years later, in 1959, Serling tapped into a popular subject of the time and began writing, and was the on-screen narrator for, The Twilight Zone. After The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), Serling took his skills to the big screen and, in 1968, he co-wrote the screenplay for the original movie version of Planet of the Apes.

Serling’s successes were a product of his hard work, including 12-hour days. But, according to an interview with USA Today in April 2013, his daughter, Anne (author of As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling), said her father seemed to make time for everything, especially family,

“I was aware that he got up very early in the morning, but he was always there at the dinner table and he was there when I came home from school,” she said. “We could sometimes play basketball — quite a lot, actually. I never had the sense that my father wasn’t available.”

By the end of his career, he wrote 252 scripts and won six Emmys.

Sources:, USA Today

  • Willene F. Kanasky

    It’s =it is. Your writers should know better.

    • Thank you for catching our typo and for visiting our blog.

  • Carol Mone

    Did you forget Joyce Carol Oates? Also, musician Lou Reed is an author. His mentor at SU was poet Delmore Schwartz

  • Laurence G. Bousquet

    Don’t forget David Foster Wallace who wrote Infinite Jest while living in Syracuse and Tobias Wolff who taught in the SU creative writing program. Mention should also be made of poet and current SU professor Brooks Haxton. Red Badge of Courage author and SU alum Stephen Crane also deserves mention.

    • John White

      Mr. Bousquet: With respect to your comments regarding Stephen Crane: please define the term “SU alum.”


      • Laurence G. Bousquet

        The wikipedia entry on Stephen Crane contains a good summary of the author’s time at Syracuse University. (To be an alumnus one need only attend but not necessarily graduate a school.) The entry also contains a wonderful photo of Crane and his SU baseball teammates.

        • John White

          Mr. Bousquet: Unfortunately, it does not appear that SU agrees with you on the question of whether Stephen Crane meets the qualifications they’ve set for determining exactly what must occur before one is considered to be an alumnus of the school (rather than just “a friend”).

          I suspect even the fact that you’ve called in the big guns at Wikipedia to add support to your position will not cut much ice with them.

          If you go to this site––you’ll find the language quoted below. It seems to adequately set out what it is that one must accomplish before he is to be considered an alumnus of the school:

          “Did you know that if you completed 60 credit hours at Syracuse University, you are a member of the Alumni Association automatically . . . .”

          I suspect if all one had to do in order to be considered an alumnus (or an alumnae) was to look pretty good in a uniform, then the number of past and present alumni of the school would increase by a hundred fold or more!

  • Laurence G. Bousquet

    Also, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil author John Berendt grew up in Syracuse.

  • John White

    Shouldn’t Stephen Crane also be added to the list?

    While his attendance at SU may have been short (and his appearance in classes infrequent), both would seem to satisfy your “come through” requirement!

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  • How about Tobias Wolff? Wasn’t he a Syracusan and S.U. professor? Author of “A Boy’s Life” a semi autobiography made into a film.

    • Thats a great one too. We wish we could have thought of them all, but that’s why we rely on people like you. We’ll add that to our list!