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Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man Paperback – January 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a fine biography of The Twilight Zone 's writer, producer and host, Rod Serling, but it is overly generous in assessing his contribution to popular culture.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Rod Serling authorized only one person to pen his biography. However, the TV legend's anointed protege, Mark Olshaker, was so distraught over Serling's death in 1975 that he eventually turned the project over to Sander. Using these files and numerous interviews with Serling intimates, Sander has fashioned a vivid and fascinating portrait of this complex innovator from television's Golden Age. While not skimping on his analysis of Serling's famed masterpiece The Twilight Zone (1959-65), he also gives in-depth examinations of the making of such early TV classics as Requiem for a Heavyweight and Patterns . The five-time Emmy Award-winner's life is examined in detail. While always giving the pioneering TV writer/producer his due, Sander does not shirk from any of Serling's blemishes, including his eventual embrace of the crass commercialism in television that he initially opposed so vehemently. This excellent book is an essential purchase for public and academic libraries.
-David M. Turkalo, Social Law Lib., Boston
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452270383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452270381
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,564,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Frank on September 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written resource concerning life and times of the creator of TV's "Twilight Zone". It is not an "authorized biography", which is a good thing. The text flows well, and covers Serling's childhood years, as well as his career before and after "The Zone". Notes bibliography and index are included, as are appendices covering videography, filmography and awards received by Mr. Serling. A few photos make up a center spread, resulting in a work that sould make a worthwhile addition to the library of anyone interested in Rod Serling, his life, and his creations.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Douglas S. Lavine on August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Growing up, I was fascinated by "The Twilight Zone" and entranced by Rod Serling's persona--the deep voice, the intense manner, the eerie quality of his show. I have just finished reading Gorden F. Sander's excellent book. I strongly recommend it to anyone who, like me, has always enjoyed Serling and "The Twilight Zone," but knows little about him or the early days of television. Sander does an excellent job of putting Serling into context--the context of his times, his medium, his contemporaries. The book is balanced and fair. The author clearly has deep affection and respect for Serling, but is not afraid to be appropriately critical where he thinks it justified. The book is a wonderful read.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rhonda Poynter on September 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book seems to have reviewers choosing up sides - either one agrees with the widow of Mr. Sterling and speaks negatively of this unauthorized biography, or another sees it as an unbiased attempt to tell the whole story of the one and only Rod Serling.

The problem here is that there can never be the entire story - the full truth - to anything about the Twilight Man. Rod Serling was as complex as some of his scripts might have seemed to television viewers of the 1950s'; the angry young man was turning out weekly episodes about time travel ("The Last Flight"), nuclear war ("Time Enough At Last"), human nature ("The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street") and more, when other tv fare checked in with Lucy and Ethel getting locked in a meat freezer, or Beaver climbing into an oversized coffee cup on a billboard. Rod Serling was a high-strung, chain-smoking WWII veteran who'd seen horrors discussed in this book and other biographies that make it a wonder the man knew how to write his name, much less make a living.

I don't mean to be flippant with that last statement, by the way - being a dyed-in-the-wool fanatic of Rod Serling, I know about his childhood, which the author Sander details simply and casually...there's nothing in the Serling household, during Rod's younger years, which forebode the darknesses that will visit themselves unto the writer. Indeed, his biggest problem during his pre-adult years is being too short to be taken seriously as a quarterback for the school team; for the neophyte who may not know this little tidbit, the man who seemed massive in so many ways onscreen was, in fact, just under 5'5 in stature. Having known this fact as well for many years, I've always thought of just how convincingly Mr.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on December 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you're seen Twilight Zone it's probably a good time to meet the man.

And for its part this biography is a good history of that man, where he came from and just what powered his visionary genius.

In terms of the mundane biography, Serling came from a middle class New York Jewish family and was raised just before World War II when it was more customary among American Jews to downplay their Jewish identity and background so they could more easily gain acceptance in what was still a more ardently Christian country.

Not surprisingly Serling opted away from remaining Jewish in favor of becoming a Unitarian but he couldn't opt away from the rich tradition of thought provoking story telling from which he came. As is made clear in this biography, even as a child Serling loved tellling stories and entertaining.

This continued during his service as a paratrooper during World War II where Serling began service just before the end of the Pacific side of the second world war. Just like his small town upbringing, his participation in military service would be repeatedly mined for inspiration during his long career in TV entertainment.

For those who only know Serling through either Twilight Zone or Serling's later Night Gallery, they won't be surprised to learn that Serling had already earned three consecutive TV Emmy's during the 1950's: in 1955 for Patterns, 1956 for Requiem for a Heavyweight and finally in 1957 for The Comedian. In each case, interested readers/viewers can sample Serling's early work product for themselves in a still existent collection from Critterion called Television's Golden Age. Signficantly three of the six TV shows featured in that collection originated from Serling's not inconsiderable pen.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Aldanoli on June 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, there will probably never be a definitive biography of Rod Serling -- that kind of weighty tome is usually reserved for politicians, movie stars, or historic figures like Albert Einstein. A pity, because in his crowded 50 years on this earth, Rod Serling crafted nearly 200 scripts, the vast majority of them superior works that still resonate today. And one could do worse to examine the arc of Serling's life and career, and the workings of his psyche, than to read Gordon Sander's biography.

Other works have covered at least some of this material, such as the wealth of biographical information that Marc Scott Zicree worked into "The Twilight Zone Companion." But although Zicree covered a lot of this same terrain, the focus in his book was on that show, and how Serling's life illumined much of what went on in "Twilight Zone." Sander's book takes a closer look at Serling the man, and he begins with a gripping if speculative little drama that picks up "in media res," introducing our subject late on a September night in 1965 as Serling dictates a speech he was soon to give in his capacity as president of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Written somewhat in the style of a film script itself, Sander's introduction tells us almost as much about Serling as the rest of the book -- his habits as a writer, his vanity, his love of celebrity and the toys that his hard-earned wealth purchased, his underlying unhappiness despite his success -- and his ever-present cigarettes, which would contribute heavily to his death just 10 years later.
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