Tag Archives: Joel Engel

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas! It’s a Sunday morning and I’ll be going to church, but our choir is not singing; we sang on Christmas Eve, but not Christmas Day, which is fine by me. Besides, Santa is probably tired from putting presents under the tree.

Somebody I once met was born on Christmas Day 1924, and that’s the late Rod Serling. My blogger buddy Gordon has been trying to institute his and Humphrey Bogart’s birthdays (b. 1899) as alternative holidays for “those who may be atheists, agnostics, or just plain tired of the usual thing.” Don’t know how that’s working out.

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Rod Serling biography by Joel Engel

One of the things I was able to do in the Adirondacks a couple months ago was to read the bulk of the book Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone – a biography by Joel Engel. I wanted to finish it because I had borrowed the book from my father-in-law and I wanted to return it; that was my internal message, not his external one.

In the Methodology and Sources section of the book, author Joel Engel expressed surprise that in 1985, a full decade after the death of the celebrated television writer Rod Serling, there had not yet been a Serling biography. So Engel made inquiries and ended up writing a book about a man whose fans adored him, but who, despite his considerable success, was riddled with self-doubt. As Engel notes in the Prologue re Serling in 1967: “Submitted for your examination: a man who’s dying inside. Not so many years ago, he rode the crest of a golden wave he thought would never end…But that was before giving birth to the Creation…Each day, he hears fewer whispers of his greatness, and those still heard cannot be believed from inside the private hell to which the Creation has doomed him.”

The Creation, of course, was the seminal series The Twilight Zone, whose writing and hosting made him both a success as a writer but also a celebrity; yet he doubted his writing abilities, and scorned his own celebrity.
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