|Kevin McCarthy as the immortally doomed Walter Jameson|
Season One, Episode 24
Original Air Date: March 18, 1960
Professor Walter Jameson: Kevin McCarthy
Professor Samuel Kittridge: Edgar Stehli
Susanna Kittridge: Dody Heath
Laurette Bowen: Estelle Winwood
Writer: Charles Beaumont (original teleplay)
Director: Anton Leader
Producer: Buck Houghton
Makeup: William Tuttle
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
And now, Mr. Serling:
"Next week the culprit is Charles Beaumont, the gentleman responsible for a story unlike any you've ever seen. You talk of immortality, the business of being able to live for as long as one wants. Well, next week you'll see Kevin McCarthy at the tail end of a life that's gone on for two thousand years. The play is called, 'Long Live Walter Jameson,' on The Twilight Zone."
Rod Serling's Opening Narrarion:
"You're looking at act one, scene one of a nightmare, one not restricted to witching hours and dark, rain-swept nights. Professor Walter Jameson, popular beyond words, who talks of the past as if it were the present, who conjures up the dead as if they were alive. In the view of this man, Professor Samuel Kittridge, Walter Jameson has access to knowledge that couldn't come out of a volume of history but rather from a book on black magic; which is to say that this nightmare begins at noon."
Walter Jameson, a middle-aged professor of history at a distinguished university, gives a lecture on the American Civil War to a packed classroom. He reads passages from the private war journal of Union officer Hugh Skelton. The journal describes, in great detail and from a very personal viewpoint, the hatred felt by Union soldiers for the ruthless Union officer General William T. Sherman, the man that ordered the burning of Atlanta. Sitting in the back of the classroom and listening to Jameson's lecture is the elderly Professor Samuel Kittridge. He wears a look on his face that is part astonishment and part deep curiosity. After the class has been dismissed, Kittridge approaches Jameson and asks about the Union officer Hugh Skelton and how Jameson managed to come by Skelton's war journal. Jameson dodges the question and when Kittridge instead asks to borrow the journal Jameson denies him the priveledge on the grounds that Kittridge is absent minded and has misplaced a previously borrowed item. Kittridge relents and asks Jameson to join him for dinner at his, Kittridge's, house. Jameson agrees and we learn that Jameson is engaged to Kittridge's daughter, Susanna.
We meet Susanna as she answers the door when Jameson arrives at the Kittridge home later that evening. Susanna is young, not yet thrity, and beautiful, and clearly in love with Jameson. Samuel Kittridge enters the room and, after some light chatter, announces that dinner is ready. After dinner, the elder Kittridge sends Susanna upstairs to continue her study for a PhD. Susanna reluctantly agrees and Kittridge and Jameson sit down to continue a previously begun game of chess in the living room.
Kittridge believes the fantastic tale and clings to the hope that Jameson holds the key to eternal life. Jameson, however, can provide no such key. He tells a tale of being, like Kittridge, terribly afraid of dying and of visiting an alchemist a very long time ago. This alchemist gave to Jameson the gift of immortality, a gift he knows now to be a curse. He tells Kittridge of the horror of watching your loved ones grow old and die while you never age. He tells about never being able to stay in one place for fear of those around you finding out your secret. He also poses the question of whether Kittridge would really want to achieve immortality as an old man with an old man's body and problems. Kittridge, angered and afraid, forbids Jameson to marry his daughter, stating that sparing her the heartbreak of the future, when Jameson must inevitably abandon her, is worth Susanna being angry now. On this issue, Jameson does not relent. When Susanna is roused by their rising voices and comes downstairs, Jameson tells her to get her things together, that they are going away tonight to get married. Susanna is excited and, defiant of her father, runs upstairs to get ready. After an idle threat by Kittridge, Jameson walks across the street to his own home. Unbeknownst to Jameson, we see a very old woman hiding in the shadows of a large tree, spying on Jameson as he walks across the street.
Inside his home, Jameson sits behind the desk in his office, lit only the lamp on the desk. From the desk drawer he draws a revolver and, for a moment, the contemplation of suicide crosses his expressive face but he does not go through with it. He places the gun back in the drawer. Then, a voice speaks, the voice of a very old woman calling out the name "Tommy." Jameson is startled and turns the lamp forward to illuminate the same old woman that had been spying on him outside. The old woman gets up and turns on the overhead light. After taking a good look at Jameson she is satisfied. She tells him that she is Laurette Bowen and that he was her husband, named Tommy, a long time ago. Jameson tries to play off the uncomfortable situation but to no avail. The old woman is suddenly holding a gun in her hand. Jameson, startled, stands up and begins to plead with the woman. The old woman tells Jameson that his immortal condition is unnatural and that he cannot go on hurting others the way he hurt her in the past. Before Jameson can get another word out, the old woman shoots him. Jameson falls back into his office chair.
Kittridge hears the gunshot and rushes outside and across the street where he meets the old woman walking quickly away from Jameson's house. Kittridge stops her and asks what happened but the old woman simply rushes past him and on down the sidewalk. Inside the house, Kittridge is confronted with a horrible sight. He finds Jameson in his office, shot, bleeding, and dying. Jameson's death is two thousand years in the making and he ages rapidly right before Kittridge's eyes until Jameson is nothing but dust on the floor amid a empty set of clothes.
When Susanna also rushes into the office, Kittridge attempts to shield her from the sight but by this point there is only dust and empty clothes left to see. Susanna is confused and afraid and Kittridge leads her away.
Rod Serling's Closing Narration:
"Last stop on a long journey, as yet another human being returns to the vast nothingness that is the beginning and into the dust that is always the end."
There is a second cut scene which actor Kevin McCarthy discusses on the commentary for the DVD release of the first season. McCarthy describes a scene in which Jameson and Susanna Kittridge are walking along a midway and a man, against Jameson's wishes, takes their picture for an engagement announcement in the local newspaper. the character Laurette Bowen (Estelle Winwood), a scorned lover from Jameson's past, mentions viewing such a photograph and gives that for the reason she has managed to track Jameson down. It is the second time in the episode that a photograph is the cause for Jameson's undoing and the viewer wonders why a man intent on keeping his immortal life a secret would ever submit to having his photograph taken in the first place.
"Long Live Walter Jameson" displays all of the major themes of writer Charles Beaumont's fiction and especially that of his Twilight Zone output. Though there are exceptions, most notably season four's "Miniature," Beaumont's episodes are heavily concerned with the effects of death and dying in a very direct manner. Short stories like "The Hunger," "A Death in the Country," "Mourning Song," and "Black Country" (all of which can be found in the collection Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories (Dark Harvest, 1988) as The Howling Man (Tor, 1992) feature reflections on the specter of death and the emotional and physical aspects of dying. Among his first three episodes for The Twilight Zone, the theme of death and dying is all-pervasive. "Perchance to Dream" concerns a man afraid to go to sleep for fear that a recurring nightmare will take his life. "Elegy" takes a morbidly humorous approach to dying when three astronauts crash land on a planet that serves as a mortuary for the deceased wishing their preserved bodies to be displayed performing their favorite activites. With "Long Live Walter Jameson," Beaumont presents us with two men, one old and one immortally young, both afraid of death, and both running out of time. By the end of the episode, Kittridge's dream of defeating death is horribly crushed by his own old age and the sight of Walter Jameson's death as a bodily transformation into dust on the floor. Beaumont would further explore the themes of death and dying in such notable episodes as season two's "Shadow Play" and season four's "Passage on the Lady Anne," both of which are based on previously published material. The episode that most resembles "Long Live Walter Jameson," however, is the fifth season's "Queen of the Nile." This episode was co-plotted with writer Jerry Sohl after Beaumont's health began to decline. It concerns an apparently ageless movie star that manages to remain immortal by the use of an Egyptian scarab ring and occasional human sacrifice. Though much darker in tone yet not as effectively executed as "Long Live Walter Jameson," "Queen of the Nile" mirrors the former episodes in many ways.
Makeup artist William Tuttle joined the production crew on The Twilight Zone as the reigning head of the makeup department at Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios. He was apprenticed under Jack Dawn at 20th Century Fox before following Dawn to MGM when, in 1934, Dawn was given the position as head of the makeup department. After Jack Dawn retired, Tuttle served as head of the MGM makeup department for over twenty years. Tuttle was a prodigious talent and earned the first ever Academy Award given to a makeup artist for his work transforming the appearance of Tony Randall in 1964's The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. The film was scripted by Charles Beaumont from Charles G. Finney's 1935 novel The Circus of Dr. Lao. Tuttle's other makeup creations can be seen in such films as The Wizard of Oz (uncredited) (1939), Forbidden Planet (1956), The Time Machine (1960), and Young Frankenstein (1974). Some of his most memorable and renowed makeup creations appeared in episodes of The Twilight Zone, including notable work in "The Howling Man," "Eye of the Beholder," "WIll the Real Martian Please Stand Up?," "The Dummy," "To Serve Man," "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," and "The Masks."
As documented by Beaumont editor and biographer Roger Anker in The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One (Gauntlet, 2004) , by early 1964 Beaumont decided to temporarily move from his home in southern California to the east coast, opting to take a small apartment in Manhattan in which he planned to finish a novel titled Where No Man Walks. Beaumont's time in Manhattan was a disaster. His novel was never finished, and, by July, Beaumont returned to California and allowed himself to be checked into the UCLA Neuro-Psychiatric Clinic for testing. It was then that the severity of Beaumont's situation was fully realized. By the time of his release in August of that year, his friends and family realized that Beaumont's drinking was a reaction to, and not a cause of, his problem, which UCLA doctors diagnosed as Alzheimer's, or possibly Pick's, Disease. It has also been suggested that Beaumont's mental and physical degeneration may have occurred from acute lead poisoning contracted through his heavy use of Bromo-Seltzer, which was distrubuted in lead-lined cannisters, which the young writer consumed in large quantities in an attempt to deal with chronic headaches. Whatever the true cause of Beaumont's terrible condition, it would not be much longer before the complete breakdown of Beaumont's functional awareness and cognative ability, not to mention his ability to continue his prolific creative output.
The stories related by Beaumont's close friends are terribly sad stories of a young man's brillant mind being slowly and irreparably erased. Beaumont acted as though films he had seen dozens of times, King Kong for example, he was only now viewing for the first time. After his release from the UCLA medical center, he accidentally set two fires in his own home, once setting the drapes on fire with a cigarette and then simply sitting there, unaware of the danger to his life, until friends and family were able to get him away and put out the flames. Beaumont's meetings with producers and publishers were disastrous during this time. He struggled mightily to speak and had to speak very slowly and diliberately. He would often arrive unshaven and unable to remember and articulate his prepared plans for the meetings. Beaumont would lose control of his emotions, often erupting into anger or tears as his awareness and understanding of what was happening to him would come and go with shocking irregularity. By the end of his terrible ordeal, Beaumont would be unable to perform such basic tasks as dressing and walking. The situation was a nightmare of emotional and financial strain on the Beaumont family, which included four young children.
In the end, as expressed by Beaumont's close friend, author William F. Nolan, the saving grace of the disease was that Beaumont was unaware of what was happening to him. In March of 1965, Beaumont entered the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, where he died on February 21, 1967, at age thirty-eight. He was described as appearing to be ninety years old when he died. Like the fictional horror of Walter Jameson, the very real truth was that Charles Beaumont wasted away mentally and physically, depriving readers and viewers of one of the greatest literary fantasists of the latter part of the 20th century, as well as a family of a husband and father, and friends of an inspiration and mentor. Fortunately for us, Charles Beaumont left behind exceedingly fine work and his legacy undoubtedly lies in his contributions to The Twilight Zone.