Rod Serling’s First Twilight Zone Episode?

A significant anniversary in Rod Serling history: On July 10, 1951, Rod Serling’s “The Keeper of the Chair” aired on WKRC’s THE STORM in Cincinnati (a local-only broadcast). It was the first of dozens of scripts that Serling wrote for the series, which greatly shaped him into the writer he eventually became.

“The Keeper of the Chair” can, in many ways, also be considered Rod’s first “Twilight Zone-esque” script to be produced. The story concerns a prison guard, Paul Rierdon, who has become obsessed with the question of whether he has ever executed an innocent man. A fellow guard, George Franks, incessantly needles Rierdon with the question, challenging him to remember the names of every man he has executed during his ten years working on death row. In the end we discover that George Franks does not exist. He is a projection of Rierdon’s guilty conscience. George Franks had been proved innocent shortly after Rierdon had executed him ten years earlier, and his was the one name that Rierdon would not allow himself to remember.

The script had been rejected by several national radio series and as late as 1975, Serling still remembered it as “the best idea I ever had that I couldn’t sell.”

News stories about “The Keeper of the Chair” 

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