Rod Serling became a household name in the 1960s with his TV series “The Twilight Zone.” Robert Serling was seven years younger than Rod, but outlived his brother by almost a quarter of a century. In 2009, I interviewed Robert for the BBC. It was the 50th anniversary of the airing of the first “Twilight Zone” episode. Robert shared many memories of his brother Rod. We also talked about his own successful career as a journalist and author.
Listen to Robert Serling’s remembrance of Rod Serling:
Listen to a remembrance of Robert Serling:
By Mark Duggan
Robert and Rodman Serling grew up in Binghamton, NY, in a simple world filled with King Kong and summer baseball.
But life would become more complicated for Rod when he went off to war. According to Robert, his younger brother came back from duty a changed man.
He said he knows his brother saw some things in the war that forever affected him, things he was very reluctant to talk about.
The only way he could deal with them was by being intensely imaginative and creative.
Rod Serling parlayed those traits into a job writing scripts for CBS in the mid 1950s. Soon, he was writing for prime time shows, and making a name for himself for his inventive plots.
In fact, it was his sheer creativity that led to his being given his own weekly TV series. He called it The Twilight Zone.
The first episode aired on October 2, 1959 and was an immediate success. The show explored, in a dramatized fashion, a world where just about anything was possible, particularly things bizarre and unexplainable.
While Rod Serling was having success with The Twilight Zone, his brother was also making a name for himself.
He was aviation editor for United Press International and author of a number of books on aviation, including several fictional works that sold reasonably well in the 1970s.
One, The President’s Plane Is Missing became a made-for-TV film in 1973.
Despite both being writers, the Serling brothers only collaborated once, on a script for the 1961 Twilight Zone episode “The Odyssey Of Flight 33.”
Robert described watching his brother stare at an airline brochure for several minutes before turning to him and asking what he thought of the idea of an airliner in flight suddenly traveling back in time.
It became another plot for The Twilight Zone!
Rod Serling died of lung cancer in 1975 at the age of 50. Robert Serling passed away from natural causes in 2010. He was 92 years old.