actresses, Anne Francis, Art, artist, Batman, Bewitched, Catwoman, Donna Douglas, Elizabeth Montgomery, Inger Stevens, Julie Newmar, ladies, Patricia Breslin, Pin-ups, Pinup Art, portfolio, Rod Serling, sketch, Suzanne Lloyd, The Farmer's Daughter, Twilight Zone, Vera Miles, William Shatner, women
The Twilight Zone has a little something for everyone. Mystery, drama, morality, redemption, and a touch of fun. At the helm was series’ creator Rod Serling, who along with a number of other supremely talented writers – Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, to name a few – penned the richly chilling, thought-provoking scripts my best friend Paul and I have come to hold so dear.
But what really made the stories of the Twilight Zone hit home were the characters. Perhaps you felt for them or related to their particular situation or circumstance; maybe they inspired you, either in action or with words; or perhaps you loved to hate them. Whatever the case though, every character is only as good as the actor or actress portraying them. And while the Zone boasts an impressive roster of famous celebrity men – William Shatner, Burgess Meredith, Jack Klugman, Jonathan Winters – there is no shortage of glamourous leading ladies in the Fifth Dimension.
Today I have a very special treat in store for my fellow Seekers of Truth. Many of you know my friend Paul from his blog, “Shadow & Substance”, or his Twitter page, @TheNightGallery. Paul and I have many things in common, but the one thing that stands out most is our mutual love and admiration for all things Twilight Zone. So I asked Paul if he’d like to join me and guest-blog on Seeker of Truth. Thankfully, he said yes. A very enthusiastic “yes”, I might add. And I enthusiastically replied, “YAH!”
We do a lot of collaborating behind the scenes when it comes to both of our respective blogs, but we haven’t had an opportunity to showcase what we can do together, in front of the camera, so to speak.
Until now. So submitted for your approval, allow Paul and I to introduce you to the…
Mannequin, carnival dancer, soldier, witch, patient, wife, ghost, traveller, and the Devil herself – a collection of memorable leading lady characters.
In the dimension of imagination, you’ll find these women in some of the Zone’s most memorable tales. Both the characters themselves and the actresses who play them exude a kind of inexplicable allure. So for me it just seemed perfect to pair them with another inexplicable allure – the pin-up-girl-type illustration. I have been a fan of pin-up art forever. Pin-ups are subtle sexy. To me, a pin-up should be a sexy lady depicted with an air of mystery about her. Nude pin-ups are not sexy. The clothing is as much a part of the pin-up appeal as the pose and girl herself. So I’ve made all our favourite TZ ladies into classic pin-up girls. These are all original sketches that I created for this post.
Paul is co-writing this piece with me, so to make it a little easier for our readers to know who’s speaking, all of Paul’s text will be in white. Paul, today you are an honourary Seeker of Truth, my friend.
Thank you for inviting me, Wendy. As an unabashed fan of your blog, I feel privileged to join you for this special post. Your passion for art, faith and pop culture makes your work uniquely appealing. And as a diehard Twilight Zone fan, I feel like I’ve long been preparing for a role as a Seeker of Truth.
George Clayton Johnson, who wrote such memorable TZ episodes as “Kick the Can” and “Nothing in the Dark”, called the show “wisdom fiction”, and I believe our blogs are popular specifically because they delve into this wisdom — how it works and why. Now, at first glance, the idea of doing “pin-ups” of TZ heroines might sound as if we’ve moved pretty far afield of this mission, but I think it makes perfect sense.
Part of what made TZ work, after all, were the people at the heart of the stories. Serling, Matheson, Beaumont and the other writers sketched some marvelous characters — characters brought to life by some amazingly talented men and women. Today, through the magic of your artwork, we pay tribute to the actresses — their beauty, certainly, but also the heart and soul BEHIND the pretty faces.
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Anne Francis/Marsha White/Jess-Belle
“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”
Season 1, Episode 34 and Season 4, Episode 7
“When you’re on the outside, everything seems so normal.”
If you bought a gift at a department store, saw it was damaged, went to return it, and recognized a mannequin as the sales woman who helped you, you’d quite sensibly conclude that you were seeing things. And if you were madly in love with a man betrothed to another woman, and the local witch offered you a too-good-to-be-true way to make that man your own, you’d probably laugh in her face.
Unless, of course, you’re Marsha White and Jess-Belle, and you’ve just taken your first steps into the fifth dimension. Then you’d know that the sales woman IS a mannequin — and so are you. And you’d not only believe the local witch, you’d accept her offer, only to discover that you were destined to turn into a leopard every night.
Anchoring “The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle” is Anne Francis, one of the most popular actresses of the 1960s. Her striking blue eyes (noticeable even in the stark B&W photography of the Zone) and porcelain features are abetted by a natural charm that helps us identify strongly with her characters.
We fear for her when she builds to a state of near-hysteria as Marsha, trapped in a dark and empty department store. We weep for her as she realizes she’s been tricked as the raven-haired Jess-Belle.
Although Francis’ career included a LOT of television work, it began with one of the most famous sci-fi films of the ’50s: Forbidden Planet. Roles on Rawhide, The Untouchables, Route 66 and dozens of other series followed. Francis even starred in a series of her own, playing a sexy private eye in Honey West. She later graced episodes of Dallas, Fantasy Island and Murder She Wrote.
“Was it fun?”, one of Francis’ fellow mannequins asks her. “Ever so much fun”, she replies. Watching her work on the Twilight Zone, we can’t help but agree.
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Elizabeth Montgomery/The Woman
Season 3, Episode 1
With only a single word of dialogue for the entire episode, Elizabeth Montgomery captured our hearts. Acting alongside Charles Bronson, who’s billed simply as “The Man”, Montgomery is a Russian soldier left alive and alone in the aftermath of a devastating world war. Still beautiful even in her tattered uniform, Montgomery spends the episode wandering through a deserted town, interacting in a very nervous and volatile way with Bronson.
There’s much to be said for any actor/actress who delivers a beautiful, convincing performance with little to no dialogue. And I think all will agree that Montgomery delivers.
She appeared in this episode of the Twilight Zone in 1961, but her big break came in 1964 when she starred in the sitcom Bewitched as Samantha Stephens, wife of Darrin, first portrayed by another TZ alumni, Dick York (“A Penny For Your Thoughts”).
In 2005, a bronze statue of Montgomery as witch Samantha riding a broom, was erected in Salem, Massachusetts.
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“Perchance to Dream”
Season 1, Episode 9
“I know a lot of things. I’m Maya.”
We instinctively recoil in frightening situations, understandably concerned with our own safety. Yet as Edgar Allan Poe demonstrated so masterfully in “The Imp of the Perverse”, we also experience an inexplicable urge to embrace danger. Charles Beaumont explored that same paradoxical urge when he introduced us to the alluring Maya the Cat Girl in one of the most visually striking Twilight Zone episodes, “Perchance to Dream“.
Maya haunts Edward Hall, a man with a bad heart who just wants a good night’s sleep. The reason he can’t get one? His overactive imagination. In his dreams, he’s met Maya at an odd and mysterious carnival. He’s under doctor’s orders to avoid excitement, but Maya insists on dragging him into the fun house and on the roller coaster. When she takes an unexpected walk into the real world, Edward’s fate seems pre-ordained.
Suzanne Lloyd’s portrayal of Maya dramatizes his dilemma to perfection. Only a very beautiful actress could make us believe Edward’s bizarre desire for thrills that place him in peril, but Lloyd tinges that attractiveness with an unmistakable sense of danger. We know that Edward should resist her seductive charm, but as Lloyd purrs each line, we know he’s being inescapably ensnared.
Lloyd brought the same unique brand of enticement to many other TV shows in the early ’60s, such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick and Perry Mason, to name only a few. But as Maya, she put an indelible face on the idea of “fatal attraction” long before the 1987 movie of the same name.
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Inger Stevens/Nan Adams/Jana Loren
“The Hitch-hiker” and “The Lateness of the Hour”
Season 1, Episode 16 and Season 2, Episode 8
“The fear has left me now. I’m numb, I have no feeling. It’s as if someone had pulled out some kind of a plug in me and everything– emotion, feeling, fear– has drained out.”
“The Hitch-hiker” is, to me, one of the quintessential scary episodes of the Twilight Zone. Nan Adams, played by Swedish actress Inger Stevens, is haunted by a mysterious hitch-hiker whose intentions, as it turns out, aren’t malevolent. He’s just trying to ease her into the realization that she’s actually dead. Stevens takes us on a full circle emotional journey, hitting on fear, shock, disbelief and finally acceptance. A stellar performance.
Inger is one of 35 actresses who appeared in more than one TZ (and possibly the most recognizable). Her second appearance was “The Lateness of the Hour” (one of six episodes shot on videotape instead of film), in which she portrays Jana, a girl who discovers that her parents have been keeping a secret from her — she’s actually a robot.
Stevens’ signature role came in 1963 on ABC’s The Farmer’s Daughter, where she played Katy Holstrum. It ran for three years and also starred TZ’s resident Major (“Five Characters in Search of an Exit”), William Windom.
Inger’s life came to a tragic end on April 30, 1970, when she died as the result of a suspected suicide. The actress was only 34.
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Donna Douglas/Janet Tyler
“Eye of the Beholder”
Season 2, Episode 6
“Why do we have to look like this?”
Poor Janet Tyler. She suffers the unspeakable misfortune of being “ugly” in a society that worships beauty. In fact, she’s forced to undergo a series of operations to “fix” her appearance and make her less repellant. Listening to her heartfelt pleas to be “cured”, to somehow blend in with society, we can’t help but feel sorry for her. And when she explodes over the unfairness of it all, we’re struck by the injustice.
And that’s before we even get a chance to see her face. In a series famous for its twist endings, “Eye of the Beholder” gives us one of the most memorable in TV history: Miss Tyler, you see, is actually quite beautiful … and the doctors and nurses have grotesque, pig-like faces.
Donna Douglas gets relatively little screen time (Maxine Stuart played all the under-the-bandages scenes), but her touching portrayal of the “ugly” Miss Tyler is part of the reason this episode has become so legendary. Douglas obviously is blessed with good looks, but she has the acting talent to match. The terror and sorrow on her face and in her voice help us sympathize with Miss Tyler even more.
As an example of how willing Douglas was to go the extra mile, consider the fact that her voice was supposed to be dubbed by Stuart until she surprised director Douglas Heyes with a perfect impression — and was then allowed to speak all the post-operation lines herself. Donna returned to TZ for a bit part in “Cavender is Coming”.
She went on to star in her most famous role, that of Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies (with another TZ alum, Buddy Ebsen). She appeared in more than a dozen other series before that, including 77 Sunset Strip and Dr. Kildare, and even had a part in Frankie and Johnny with Elvis Presley.
But to TZ fans, she’ll always be poor Janet Tyler, ostracized for the crime of being ugly.
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Patricia Breslin/Pat Carter
“Nick of Time” and “No Time Like the Past”
Season 2, Episode 7 and Season 4, Episode 10
“It doesn’t matter whether it can foretell the future. What matters is whether you believe more in luck and in fortune than you do in yourself.”
Patricia Breslin also has two TZs under her belt. She’s best known as the supportive yet level-headed Pat Carter, wife of superstitious Don (William Shatner), in the classic episode “Nick of Time”, where she goes head to head with the all-powerful allure of the Mystic Seer. But she also filled the lesser-known role of teacher Abigail Sloan in the hour-long season 4 time-travel episode, “No Time Like the Past”.
Breslin’s strong yet subtle portrayal of a wife who’s determined to keep her husband’s feet planted in reality is one of my favourite female TZ performances. Pat is a lovely, demure woman, but when it comes right down to brass tacks, she’s determined to save her husband from the dangerous, slippery slope he’s sliding down. Breslin delivers some of the most powerful lines of dialogue the series has to offer. And she does it with a harmonious blend of grace, conviction, and a touch of desperation.
After her time on the Twilight Zone, Breslin played Laura Brooks in the ABC prime time soap opera, Peyton Place, following that up with a more major role in another ABC soap, the still-running General Hospital. From 1965 to 1969, she was nurse Meg Baldwin.
Richard Matheson – writer of “Nick of Time” — enjoyed Breslin’s performance as Pat Carter so much that he originally wanted her for the role of Shatner’s wife a second time in the fan-favourite (also Matheson-penned) episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. I must disagree with Matheson though. Personally, I don’t believe that Breslin was right for the role of Julia Wilson, and I would hate to see her memorable role in “Nick of Time” having to compete with another, perhaps more iconic portrayal in “Nightmare”. No, Pat Carter is a heroine deserving of her own spotlight.
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Vera Miles/Millicent Barnes
Season 1, Episode 21
“Delusions, that’s what they are. They’re delusions.”
A simple premise, really, but run through Serling’s typewriter, “Mirror Image” becomes an unforgettable exercise in existential terror. We’re as much in the dark as Millicent Barnes as she tries to make sense of the situation. She goes to check her bag … and the annoyed attendant tells her she already has. She steps into the restroom … and catches a glimpse of her duplicate in the mirror. What’s going ON here?
Millicent has a theory. It’s something she once read: there’s another plane of existence out there. We each have a double in it, and sometimes that double crosses into our world, and tries to take over. Paul Grinstead, a friendly fellow bus passenger, is concerned that this poor woman has gone mad. He calls for the police to take her away — moments before seeing his OWN double.
Vera Miles turns in a wonderfully controlled performance of a woman trying not to panic in the face of a frightening and confusing turn of events. Watching her calmly explain the theory of parallel universes, it’s hard not to conclude that she IS mad, despite our having just seen the same strange sights that she has. Miles expertly keeps us balanced on that edge of doubt as we try to figure out if she’s right … or crazy.
Unlike most of the other pin-ups presented here, Miles was well-known to audiences when she appeared on TZ, starring in such movies as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (with Henry Fonda) and John Ford’s masterful Western The Searchers. But her most famous role was that of Lila Crane in Hitchcock’s Psycho. (It had already been filmed by the time “Mirror Image” aired, but not yet released.)
Easy to imagine Millicent Barnes sharing a padded room with Norman Bates, isn’t it?
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Julie Newmar/Miss Devlin
“Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”
Season 4, Episode 14
“I wish for you everything you deserve.”
The fact that you already bargained your soul away doesn’t mean that Miss Devlin won’t make an exception and negotiate an alternate form of payment for her services. You’ll find that she’s very accommodating.
Under the momentary guise of a travel agent, Julie Newmar’s sultry Miss Devlin, makes a deal with one William J. Feathersmith: She’ll send him back in time to start his life anew, in exchange for a simple monetary transaction – it’ll cost nearly his entire net worth.
He takes the deal, but Feathersmith soon learns that this lady-Devil has taught him a rather poignant lesson, the likes of which can be found only … in the Twilight Zone.
Newmar was a real-life pin-up girl, posing for various things, including a 1968 issue of Playboy. But Newmar’s most memorable role is that of sexy villainess Catwoman in the 1966 cult classic Batman series starring Adam West. The original femme fatale (her role was taken over by Eartha Kitt in the third and final season), mesmerized audiences with her purrrrfectly tantalizing rolling “Rs” and that skin-tight catsuit with the belt slung low on the hip to emphasize her amazing figure.
And I’m certain the sassy, classy Miss Devlin would have gladly donned a pair of Julie’s “Nudemar” pantyhose, patented in 1977, which she claimed would “make your derriere look like an apple instead of a ham sandwich”.
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Working on this post has given me a greater appreciation for the actresses who graced episodes of The Twilight Zone. The “subtle sexy” attraction of a pin-up is well-suited to the classier age in which The Twilight Zone was produced, and Wendy’s talented work has captured this era beautifully.
I also found it very interesting to learn more about the women who helped bring these stories to life. I know the episodes cold, of course, but much of the other movie and TV work these women had done was fairly new to me. It made me realize how hard they worked to develop their craft, and to give these small-screen tales a bigger-than-life dimension.
Most of all, I enjoyed collaborating with my best friend, the one and only Wendy. My “Gal Friday” has long provided invaluable assistance to me on MY blog, so it was a real pleasure to contribute something so substantial to HER blog. I hope this is the first of many joint blog posts with her!
Oh, yes, this is only just the beginning! Many more Paul&Wendy collaborations to come!
A very special thanks to Paul for being a part of this special post. It was tremendously enjoyable to work with him. And who better to help me spotlight any aspect of TZ than Mr. Twilight Zone himself?
We watch these actresses on screen again and again, but it’s important to recognize that they’re so much more than a bunch of pretty faces. We admire their beauty, yes, just like we admire a classic pin-up or a beautiful painting. But there is so much more to these ladies than meets the eye. As with any work of art, you have to look deeper to truly appreciate what you’re looking at. What’s behind that lovely facade?
Both the unforgettable characters and the incredibly talented actresses who portray them have substance. And in the land of both shadow AND substance, well… that’s what you need.
A mannequin, a carnival dancer, a soldier, a witch, a patient, a wife, a ghost, a traveller, and the Devil herself. Tonight’s cast of leading ladies in the Fifth Dimension – known as – The Twilight Zone.
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