Daughter of ‘The Twilight Zone’: Anne Serling Remembers Her Father Rod Serling, Creator of the Classic Series

We all have an image of the late Rod Serling in mind, mostly instilled by his Classic TV series The Twilight Zone, which made its debut a little over 60 years ago. That image, of course, is of Rod standing before us, arms crossed in front of him, quite seriously filling us in on the latest denizen of that world beyond imagination before ending it all with a mind-blowing twist. But if you were to talk to his daughter, Anne Serling, a very different portrait would be painted.

“He was brilliantly funny,” she says in an exclusive interview, “just playful, silly and fun to be with. He’d do things like disappear into the other room and come back with a lampshade on his head. He was a practical joker and loved anything for a laugh. I can remember him frequently telling a joke and getting hysterical in the middle of it, going to slap his knee, missing it and unable to finish the joke … I guess it’s the total opposite of what you’d imagine.”

To put it mildly.

anne-serling-memoir
Citadel Press

The Twilight Zone originally aired for five seasons between 1959 and 1964 and remains a powerful part of pop culture all these years later. It’s been the subject of a number of TV series remakes from 1985 to 1989, 2002 to 2003 and, most recently, beginning in 2019 on the CBS All Access streaming service and produced by Jordan Peele. In between, there was the 1983 feature film produced by Steven Spielberg, stage adaptations of episodes beginning in 1996, a 2001 radio show featuring adaptations of the TV scripts, and the 1994 to 2017 Disney theme park attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. On top of that, the Decades TV network is running the Rod, White & Blue: The Twilight Zone Marathon, featuring 78 episodes between July 4 and 5. Needless to say, TZ isn’t going anywhere.

While there have been a number of biographies of Rod (who died in 1975 at the age of 50) and the series published over the years, none have taken the personal approach as Anne’s As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling, which was, in one way, written in response to all those other books. “The depiction of my dad,” she explains, “as this dark, tortured soul, but that’s not who he was.”

To get much more on Anne’s view of Rod Serling and the continuing power of The Twilight Zone, please scroll down.