The Twilight Zone is a benchmark of classic TV. Its perfect mix of horror, science fiction, and fantasy ushered emerging actors to stardom. Here’s a glimpse of some of the most unexpected appearances in the series.
5. Robert Duvall
Before playing roles in iconic projects like The Godfather and Lonesome Dove, Robert Duvall made a stop in The Twilight Zone. He’s in a rare one-hour episode, season four’s “Miniature”. Then in his thirties, Duvall portrayed a man deeply in love. Who was the object of his affection? A diminutive woman residing within the confines of a museum’s intricately crafted dollhouse.
4. Carol Burnett
Before headlining her own variety show, Carol Burnett starred in the season four episode “Cavender Is Coming”. The comedy legend had a notable role as a young stagehand who is convinced that she has a guardian angel named Harmon Cavender.
Interestingly, this particular episode deviates from the show’s usual format by incorporating a laugh track, making it unique among the others. Judging by his opening monologue, it’s clear that The Twilight Zone‘s creator, Rod Serling, was fond of Burnett.
3. Ron Howard
Now a renowned director, Ron Howard first gained fame as Opie in The Andy Griffith Show and later as Richie in Happy Days. But even before that, at just 5 years old, he made an appearance on The Twilight Zone in season one’s “Walking Distance.” Howard helps the protagonist of the episode realize he’s wandered back in time, to his childhood days. This role preceded his iconic character on The Andy Griffith Show by a year.
2. Robert Redford
At the age of 26, Robert Redford portrayed a police officer who was shot outside a basement apartment in season three’s “Nothing in the Dark”. Redford’s trademark charm and smile are on full display in this somber episode. Of course, Redford went on to star in huge films like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid as well as become an accomplished director with films such as Quiz Show.
1. The Most Unexpected ‘Twilight Zone’ Appearance… Burt Reynolds
In the 1970s, Burt Reynolds was one of the coolest and most popular actors around. Hits like Smokey and the Bandit and The Longest Yard became hallmarks of action comedies. A pre-fame Reynolds pops up in the season 4 episode, “The Bard”. Reynolds is all swagger and smiles as he does his best Marlon Brando impersonation playing an insufferable actor named Rocky Rhodes.
In fairness, the show even dresses Reynolds up like Brando’s character in A Streetcar Named Desire. However, Brando may not have been so amused. He reportedly vetoed plans to cast Reynolds as his son in The Godfather, a role that went to James Caan instead.
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