About Rod Serling

Rod Serling's bust at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Rod Serling's bust at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Born in Syracuse, New York, and raised in Binghamton, Rod Serling is remembered by many as creator of the popular television series The Twilight Zone. Yet Serling’s success began long before that as a radio writer in the late 1940s and with anthology dramas during the golden age of television. His Emmy-winning scripts for "Patterns" (Kraft Television Theatre, ABC, 1955) and "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (Playhouse 90, CBS, 1956) established this upstate New Yorker as one of television's most promising young writers. Serling's strong visual images and believable characters helped make television a powerful force in the 1950s. The young writer had discovered television as a medium through which he could effectively convey his criticism of war, prejudice, and corporate business. Serling was awarded a third Emmy in 1957 forPlayhouse 90’s "The Comedian."

By the late 1950s, with more than 100 of his scripts having been produced on network TV, Serling’s conflicts with networks and sponsors over censorship of his work intensified. This led him to make the transition from live drama to filmed series television with his own original series The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959–64). He hosted the series for its entire run and wrote 92 of the show's 156 scripts -- winning an additional two Emmys in 1960 and 1961. His sixth and final Emmy (1963) was for "It’s Mental Work," adapted for NBC's Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre. Serling’s later work included The Loner (a Western series) and NBC's Night Gallery, as well as several motion picture scripts, including the original movie adaptation of Planet of the Apes.

By the early 1970s, Serling was spending more time back in the Finger Lakes, teaching at Ithaca College and hosting students at his family’s cottage on Cayuga Lake. Following his untimely death in 1975 at the age of 50, Carol Serling, long a member of the College's board of trustees, began donating examples of her husband’s work to the College. These generous gifts have continued over the years, making the Rod Serling Archives at Ithaca College the largest single collection of television scripts and screenplays by this extraordinary writer. The collection also includes Serling’s six Emmy Awards, the original "sponsor films" from The Twilight Zone’s first network run, original typed scripts for most episodes of the series, as well as photos, films, and books from Serling's personal collection.