The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

Once again it’s Halloween when all things creepy and scary are in vogue. The only problem is I’m a scaredy cat. I don’t like horror movies, haunted houses or gory images. But there’s one spine-tingling thing that I love – The Twilight Zone. I’ve watched it for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I was small the “Little Girl Lost” episode where tiny Tina finds a portal to another dimension scared me so much I was convinced there was a portal behind my own bed. I had a VERY strong imagination. Despite the early scare I love the show to this day and was so excited to receive a copy of The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin.

The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia is a thorough guide to all tidings Rod Serling written by noted film historian, Steven Jay Rubin. At over 400 pages and chock full of images it offers insight to every element that helped create the groundbreaking series.

Rather than read it cover to cover I decided to use it as a guide to gain insight into one of my favorite episodes “The After Hours” in which a young woman shops at a very unusual floor in a department store. It has all the elements of a typical Twilight Zone episode – stellar performances, moody set pieces and an unusual twist.

In the encyclopedia I found the episode right away in the A section (for “After Hours”). There I learned it aired in the first season and starred Anne Francis as the young woman, Marsha White, and Elizabeth Allen as the saleswoman. I also learned that the episode was rehearsed for three days like a theatrical performance which allowed Francis to fully form her character.

Curious about the actress who played the saleswoman, I moved onto Allen, Elizabeth to learn more about her. Not only did I find out that she earned $750 for her role in the show but that she had also starred opposite John Wayne in Donovan’s Reef. Now I want to watch that movie to see what she’s like in a less creepy role!

Of course, then I had to learn about Anne Francis so I headed to section F and entry Francis, Anne. As a classic film fan I, of course, already was familiar with her as she had several high profile roles in such films as Forbidden Planet and Blackboard Jungle but I hadn’t remembered she was in another Twilight Zone episode “Jess-Belle.” For her role as Marsha White she made $2,500 (I hope Ms. Allen didn’t find out!) and as Jesse-Belle, $5,000.

Of course, then I had to go to section J to look up “Jesse-Belle” as I couldn’t quite remember the episode. Turns out, it’s one where the title character sells her soul in exchange for the man she loves. Now, I remember it! Anne Francis wears a dark wig and looks completely different that her character in “The After Hours.”

At this point, we could go further down the rabbit-hole but I think you get the picture of how all encompassing The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia is. For a trivia nerd like me it’s  the perfect companion to one of my favorite shows.

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