On a Saturday, thirty-nine years ago, my father died unexpectedly three days after open heart surgery. The morning began much like this one—brilliantly sunny, warm---a day he would have loved puttering around the yard, lying in the hammock, looking out at the lake. But he was far from the cottage, far from the water, lying in a hospital, and on that excruciating afternoon, at 2:20, he was inexplicably gone.
Two memorial services were held simultaneously a few days later on both coasts. I share the following from Gene Roddenberry the creator and producer of Star Trek:
“The fact that Rod Serling was a uniquely talented writer with extraordinary imagination is not our real loss. These merely describe his tools and the level of his skill. Our loss is the man, the intelligence and the conscience that used these things for us. No one could know Serling, or view or read his work, without recognizing his deep affection for humanity, his sympathetically enthusiastic curiosity about us, and his determination to enlarge our horizons by giving us a better understanding of ourselves. He cared and, I suspect, perhaps too deeply too much of the time. He dreamed of much for us and demanded much of himself, perhaps more than was possible for either in this time and place. But it is that quality of dreams and demands that makes the ones like Rod Serling rare … and always irreplaceable.”
Dear friends, if you have sent me messages recently and I have not responded, please resend. I have been hit by spam and many emails have inadvertently been erased. Thanks!
Please know how appreciative I am for all of the messages sent personally. I try to respond to them all and hope I haven't missed any!
"After President Kennedy’s assassination, my father wrote something perhaps intended as a letter to a newspaper or magazine editor. It was written on his letterhead and clearly typed by him, not his secretary. I read it for the first time forty-six years after it was written. I can hear my father’s anguish:
'More than a man has died. More than a gallant young President has been put to death. More than a high office of a land has been assaulted. What is to be mourned now is an ideal. What has been assassinated is a faith in ourselves. What has been murdered is a belief in our own decency, our capacity to love, our sense of order and logic and civilized decorum…
…To the Leftists and the Rightists, to the Absolutists, to the men of little faith but strong hate, and to all of us who have helped plant this ugly and loathsome seed that blossomed forth on a street in Dallas on last Friday—this is the only dictum we can heed now. For civilization to survive it must remain civilized. And if there is to be any hope for our children and theirs--we must never again allow violence to offer itself as an excuse for our own insecurities, our weaknesses and our own fears. This is not an arguable doctrine for simply a better life. It is a condition for our continued existence.'"
AS I KNEW HIM: My Dad Rod Serling
August 28th will be the 50th anniversary of THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON and Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In a recent post, John Hightower, (who with 250,000 other people attended the 1963 march) mentioned my dad’s 1963 Twilight Zone episode “He’s Alive.” Although about neo-nazism, his message could just as easily apply to the egregious conditions prompting the original march.
This episode was the only one that makes no reference to “The Twilight Zone” in its closing narration and when it aired, my father and the network were flooded with hate mail.
Tragically, Dr. King's dream is yet to be realized and the message is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago:
“Where will he go next, this phantom from another time, this resurrected ghost of a previous nightmare - Chicago? Los Angeles? Miami? Florida; Vincennes, Indiana; Syracuse, New York? Anyplace, everyplace, where there's hate, where there's prejudice, where there's bigotry. He's alive. He's alive so long as these evils exist. Remember that when he comes to your town. Remember it when you hear his voice speaking out through others. Remember it when you hear a name called, a minority attacked, any blind, unreasoning assault on a people or any human being. He's alive because through these things we keep him alive.” Rod Serling