Thursday, December 21, 2017

"I Sing the Body Electric"

Josephine Hutchinson as the wondrous Electric Grandmother
“I Sing the Body Electric”
Season Three, Episode 100
Original Air Date: May 18, 1962

Grandma: Josephine Hutchinson
George Rogers (Father): David White
Salesman: Vaughn Taylor
Aunt Nedra: Doris Packer
Tom (age 12): Charles Herbert
Anne (age 11): Veronica Cartwright
Karen (age 10): Dana Dillaway
Anne (age 19): Susan Crane
Tom (age 20): Paul Nesbitt
Karen (age 18): Judee Morton

Writer: Ray Bradbury (original teleplay)
Directors: James Sheldon and William Claxton
Producer: Buck Houghton
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis and Phil Barber
Set Decoration: Henry Grace and H. Web Arrowsmith
Assistant Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Casting: Stalmaster-Lister
Editor: Jason H. Bernie
Sound: Franklin Milton and Bill Edmondson
Music: Nathan Van Cleave
Story Consultant: Richard McDonagh

And Now, Mr. Serling:

“The name Ray Bradbury has become synonymous with a new horizon of American writing. Next week on The Twilight Zone we present a typical Bradbury tale. It also has typical Bradbury ingredients, including a grandmother built in a factory. Now if this doesn’t intrigue you, then I’m simply not doing justice to a most intriguing tale. I hope you’ll join us next week for ‘I Sing the Body Electric.’”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:

“They make a fairly convincing pitch here. It doesn’t seem possible, though, to find a woman who must be ten times better than mother in order to seem half as good, except, of course, in The Twilight Zone.” 


            George Rogers struggles to keep his family together after the death of his wife. Aunt Nedra pressures him to find someone who can bring togetherness to the home before he loses his children, Tom, Anne, and Karen. By chance, the family notices an advertisement, “I Sing the Body Electric,” from Facsimile Limited, a company which specializes in creating life-like domestic robots. The family decides to investigate.
            They encounter an eccentric salesman who shows them the composite parts of a robot, a variety of eyes, hairstyles, ears, arms, torsos, and voices, from which the family can choose. Anne, the middle child, despises the idea of someone, or something, taking the place of her mother, whose death has elicited great anger in the young girl. The other family members, however, agree to give it a try. 
            The robot arrives in the form of a genial older woman whom the children name Grandma. She can do wondrous things like speak from her hands, produce kite string from her finger, and make marbles appear in the palm of her hand. She is kind and loving. While Tom and Karen are welcoming, Anne rejects Grandma.
            After one particularly angry outburst, Anne runs from the house. Grandma follows and learns that Anne is angry because the death of her mother has left the child feeling betrayed. Anne rushes into the path of oncoming traffic but Grandma shoves her out of the way in time. Grandma is hit by a truck but is unharmed. After this frightening situation, Anne finally accepts Grandma.

Rod Serling’s Middle Narration:
“As of this moment the wonderful electric grandmother moved into the lives of children and father. She became integral, important; she became of the essence. As of this moment they would never see lightning, never hear poetry read, never listen to foreign tongues, without thinking of her. Everything they would ever see, hear, taste, feel would remind them of her. She was all life and all life was wondrous, quick, electrical, like her.”

            The children grow into young adults at which time Grandma must return to Facsimile Limited in order to be repurposed. The children wish her a sad farewell and thank her for all the wonder she has brought into their lives.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“A fable? Most assuredly. But who’s to say at some distant moment there might be an assembly line producing a gentle product in the form of a grandmother whose stock-in-trade is love. Fable, sure, but who’s to say?” 


"I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge
of the soul."

-Walt Whitman, "I Sing the Body Electric,"
from Leaves of Grass (9th ed., 1892)

            The story of Ray Bradbury’s sole contribution to The Twilight Zone is the larger story of Bradbury’s surprisingly unfruitful relationship with series creator Rod Serling. Other than Serling, Bradbury seemed the perfect writer for the series, and much has been written on the Bradburyesque qualities found in many of the show’s offerings. This is hardly surprising given that Bradbury was a formative influence on three of the show’s principal writers and, to a lesser degree, on the writings of Rod Serling. Serling acknowledged as much in his scripts with references to “Dr. Bradbury” in “Walking Distance,” and “the Bradbury account” in “A Stop at Willoughby,” references which some view as validation not only of Serling’s admiration for the writings of Ray Bradbury but of his appropriation of the writings of Ray Bradbury.
            A likelier reason is that, at the time he composed these early episodes, Serling imagined Bradbury would be a major contributor to the series, thus the subtle tip of the cap to the famous fantasy writer. Serling and Bradbury initially met in 1958 through a mutual friend, screenwriter John Gay. Over the course of the next year the two Los Angeles residents occasionally visited one another’s homes, striking up an easy friendship. It was this easy friendship which made the disintegration to follow so unexpected and unfortunate.
            Bradbury was present during the early stages of Serling’s creation of The Twilight Zone, even proclaiming a role in the development of the series via the recommendation of several science fiction and fantasy authors that Bradbury felt Serling should feature on the series. A typical example of Bradbury's account of his early involvement in the creation of the series can be found in Bradbury's introduction to a reissue of John Collier’s short story collection Fancies and Goodnights (New York Review Books, 2003). Bradbury writes:

“A few years later, after an awards dinner I attended with Rod Serling, the creator and host of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ he confessed that while he was soon to start a new series, he knew not half enough about fantasy and science fiction.
            “’Come,’ I said and led him down to my basement to stack his arms with Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Roald Dahl, and, on top of the stack, John Collier.
            “’There,’ I said. ‘There’s your ‘Twilight Zone.’”

            This account was frequently given by Bradbury and sometimes the list of recommended authors expanded in the telling to include George Clayton Johnson and Bradbury himself. The interesting aspect of Bradbury’s account is the suggestion that Serling was out of his depth when it came to fantasy and science fiction. To be sure, Serling was not primarily a science fiction and fantasy writer but one questions whether Serling knew so little about the genres that he needed to be directed to modern writers. Of course, Serling went beyond the small group suggested by Bradbury to bring to The Twilight Zone the work of contemporary writers Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Damon Knight, Price Day, Lucille Fletcher, Jerome Bixby, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Slesar, Malcolm Jameson, Paul Fairman, and Lyn Venable, as well as produce episodes from unpublished work by such writers as Madelon Champion, Frederic Louis Fox, and Lee Polk.
Serling was an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction in his boyhood and young adulthood and was experimenting with fantasy scripts as far back as his days as a student at Antioch College. Then there was “The Time Element,” Serling’s long-gestating time travel script which aired on The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in November, 1958. It was largely on the strength of “The Time Element” that CBS gave the go-ahead to develop the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone.
            Still, the accepted narrative when Serling announced his new series in 1959 was that Serling was a science fiction novice who was treading upon territory familiar to writers like Ray Bradbury, who needed to illustrate to Serling what constituted quality genre fiction. Due to Serling’s success as a dramatist, however, science fiction writers were initially willing to give Serling a chance to prove his worth. Consider this excerpt from Charles Beaumont’s article “The Seeing I,” written for the December, 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to herald the arrival of The Twilight Zone.

            “Is it any wonder that we scoffed? What did Rod Serling know about the field, anyway? Sure, he could rip off an occasional Emmy-winning Playhouse 90 script, but did that give him any right to invade our demesne?
            “Answer: Yes.”

            As indicated by the final two words, Bradbury, Beaumont, and Matheson, writers who were present at a special presentation of the pilot episode, as well as those writers Serling entrusted with his first nine scripts for the series, remained open-minded when entering The Twilight Zone. As a result, Beaumont and Matheson became major writers on the series. Beaumont also helped to expand the writing circle on the show to include many members of the Southern California School of Writers, such as George Clayton Johnson, John Tomerlin, Jerry Sohl, OCee Ritch, and William Idelson.
            Beaumont continued his article for F&SF by giving his reaction to Serling’s script for the pilot episode, “Where is Everybody?” This episode later became a focal point for the rifts in the relationship between Serling and Ray Bradbury.

            “Old stuff? Of course. I thought so at the time, and I think so now. But there was one element in the story which kept me from my customary bitterness. The element was quality. Quality shone on every page . . . And because of this, the story seemed fresh and new and powerful.”

            Beaumont concluded: “Bradbury and Matheson read the scripts also, and in very little time we all decided to join The Twilight Zone team.”

By the time Bradbury’s contribution to the series reached broadcast three years later, his personal and professional relationship with Rod Serling eroded to the point of animosity and accusation. Although it likely took Serling by surprise, he was aware that certain science fiction and fantasy writers harbored bad feelings toward him during his time on The Twilight Zone. In a 1963 interview with Gamma magazine, during Twilight Zone's fourth season, Serling stated: "I know I've been knocked by some veteran science fiction writers who've spent the better part of their lives in this creative area - I've been called an opportunist who's taken this story form that these guys have sweated out for years and used my reasonably affluent name to just step all over them and get my show on the air. Well, all I can say to these people is, I'm sorry they feel this way. Zone was an honest effort on my part. I tried not to step on any toes, but with a show such as this, you're almost bound to." At times, Serling must have felt as though he'd traded in his previous and well-documented fight with the censoring body of television sponsors for a fight with both professional and amateur writers over claims of plagiarism.  
            Ray Bradbury was not averse to speaking of his time on The Twilight Zone despite an avowed dislike of doing so. As such, nearly the entire picture we have of his relationship with Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone has been given to us by Bradbury himself, through book introductions, interviews, and the recollections of his friends and biographers (in particular Sam Weller, Marc Scott Zicree, and Jonathan R. Eller) whom Bradbury occasionally provided with information about his time on the series.
            Serling largely kept silent on the issue. Only in interviews late in his life did he offer an opinion on why Bradbury was not featured on the series more, namely that Bradbury’s prose style was difficult to adapt to dramatic television form, an opinion shared by Serling's first producer on The Twilight Zone, Buck Houghton. It is telling, however, that for the final interview of his life Serling repeatedly stated, in one form or another: “I yield to no man in my respect for Ray Bradbury.”
            The thing to remember when beginning to examine the falling out between Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury is that The Twilight Zone was a series with a single staff writer: Rod Serling. A major reason the network approved the series was the assurance that the Emmy Award-winning writer would provide most of the scripts. Serling was the selling point to the network, to the sponsors, and to the audience. As a result, he became the visual representation of his creation in a way few television writers have before or since. Though The Twilight Zone was never a ratings winner, it was a well-marketed series with a flood of accompanying books, comic books, toys, board games, and, later, computer games, magazines, radio shows, films, and revival series, much of which featured the likeness of Rod Serling (for more on this, see our essay on the marketing of Rod Serling). Serling became the face not only of The Twilight Zone but also of the most accessible representation of science fiction and fantasy in American culture of the time. As a result, he was placed under critical scrutiny by professionals in the science fiction and fantasy fields, many of whom likely felt it was their right to possess such valuable exposure and influence, not to mention monetary revenue.  
All other story material used on The Twilight Zone, published or unpublished story, original or adapted teleplay, was purchased on a freelance basis with the purchase decision left to Serling and the show’s various producers. This meant that, despite his friendship with Serling and his marginal assistance in developing the series, Bradbury was forced to submit his work to production as a freelance writer and await acceptance or rejection.
            It is also important to remember that no writer, Serling included, was immune to having their work rejected or go unrealized on the series. William Self, producer of the pilot episode, shelved Serling’s original pilot script, “The Happy Place,” a grim dystopian tale which Self felt was too bleak to sell to the network. “The Happy Place” was never produced on The Twilight Zone.
George Clayton Johnson, who provided some of the show’s most memorable episodes, twice saw his work for the series fall through. The first occurred when he sold his story “Sea Change” to production only to have producer Buck Houghton ask Johnson to buy the story back since a sponsor, a food manufacturer, took objection to the story’s grisly subject matter. Later, an original teleplay collaboration between Johnson and William F. Nolan, “Dreamflight,” was purchased for the series but never filmed.
Even more astounding rejections accompanied the arrival of fifth season producer William Froug, who promptly made his presence felt by shelving a number of previously accepted teleplays by the show’s leading writers (Matheson, Beaumont, Jerry Sohl) as well as exciting newcomers, such as Arch Oboler, to bring in his own stable of writers (including his secretary!) and produce such dreadful episodes as “Caesar and Me,” “From Agnes – With Love,” and “Come Wander With Me.” In a bit of ironic justice, Froug's own original script, "Many, Many Monkeys" was also shelved, likely due to its similarity to Rod Serling's "I Am the Night - Color Me Black," although Froug believed it was due to gruesome aspects of the story. The script was later produced for the third, and final, season of The Twilight Zone revival series in 1989.            
Even with the generally agreeable working conditions on The Twilight Zone, the freelance writers on the show understood the creative power to be had in developing their own series. Charles Beaumont, in the midst of writing for The Twilight Zone in 1960, attempted, unsuccessfully, to sell his own anthology series, Out There*, using original material from Richard Matheson, John Tomerlin, George Clayton Johnson, Jerry Sohl, Ray Bradbury, Ray Russell, and himself. Beaumont earlier attempted to get The Charles Addams Theatre off the ground without success, despite having Charles Addams aboard the project. By early 1963, Beaumont had settled on an attempt to magnify the contributions of other writers on The Twilight Zone by proposing to Bantam Books an anthology tentatively, and rather ludicrously, titled Stories from the Twilight Zone Not Written by Rod Serling. Despite initial support from Serling, the book never appeared and the stories would not appear in a single collection until 1985 in The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories. A short time before The Twilight Zone premiered, Ray Bradbury failed to launch his own anthology series, Report from Space. It would be more than a quarter of a century before Bradbury successfully landed his own series, The Ray Bradbury Theater, in 1985.
In the immediate years after The Twilight Zone left the air, its writers were still attempting to replicate Rod Serling’s success when The Green Hand, a creative corporation consisting of writers Richard Matheson, Jerry Sohl, George Clayton Johnson, and Theodore Sturgeon, unsuccessfully attempted to sell an anthology series titled A Touch of Strange (inspired by Sturgeon’s 1958 story collection of the same name) to Michael Eisner, Programming Director at ABC. Matheson had previously written a teleplay, “Thy Will Be Done,” for an aborted anthology series titled Now Is Tomorrow in 1959. Even Roald Dahl, doing his best Rod Serling, and producer David Susskind could last no longer than half a season with their excellent but little-seen anthology series ‘Way Out, which ran concurrent with the second season of The Twilight Zone. Dahl had more success later with his Tales of the Unexpected on British television. Despite attempts by others at the time, only Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling were able to use a genre anthology series to proliferate their images on a national scale.**
         The preceding is not intended to assume any sort of envy of Rod Serling by the writers on the series. On the contrary, most of the writers for the series had a great working relationship with Rod Serling and understood Serling's contributions and importance to television drama. In a 1981 interview for Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Richard Matheson gave a glimpse of what it was like working with Serling on The Twilight Zone: 

           "Working on The Twilight Zone was fun. Rod always had the writer of an episode sit down at a table with the actors and director during rehearsals. We'd always be there to make whatever corrections had to be made and to help out wherever possible. In retrospect, I realize how rare that was -- giving writers a chance to get involved in the production. . . It was great being there for the rehearsals and the shooting, and having input in the show."

          When asked whether he envied Serling's position as creator/host/lead writer/executive producer on The Twilight Zone, Matheson responded: "No. Rod was the one running the show. He always seemed like the mentor. He had the wonderful success behind him of shows like Requiem for a Heavyweight and Patterns. Rod was the heavyweight."

Ray Bradbury experienced prior success writing for dramatic series on radio and television, particularly with the long-running Suspense radio program and the early seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television. Several of Bradbury’s stories were also adapted for radio on the NBC program X Minus One by prolific script writer Ernest Kinoy. Bradbury co-wrote the Academy Award-nominated film Moby Dick (1956), a largely unpleasant experience Bradbury later fictionalized in several stories as well as his 1992 novel Green Shadows, White Whale. Bradbury also received a Writer's Guild nomination for his 1962 drama "The Jail" for Alcoa Premiere, and received annother Academy Award nomination that same year for the short film Icarus Montgolfier Wright, based on his 1956 story and co-written with George Clayton Johnson. There was precedence for Bradbury to have success getting his scripts dramatized on The Twilight Zone. One could easily imagine such Bradbury stories as “The Crowd,” “The Lake,” “Zero Hour,” The Fox and the Forest,” “The Playground,” “The Scythe,” or a dozen others making a relatively easy transition to The Twilight Zone. 
According to correspondence presented by Martin Grams, Jr. in his book The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic, Bradbury submitted a version of “I Sing the Body Electric” to Rod Serling as early as 1959, just as the first season of The Twilight Zone went into production. Serling read the script and was ultimately unsatisfied with it. He sent the script back to Bradbury and wished him well in placing the material with another market. Bradbury took the rejection in stride and filed the teleplay away, beginning work on adapting the story to prose under the simplified title, “Electric.”
Meanwhile, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson, all of whom counted Ray Bradbury as a close personal friend as well as their most significant literary mentor, began regularly selling their work to The Twilight Zone, resulting in such memorable early episodes as “Perchance to Dream,” “A World of Difference,” and “The Four of Us Are Dying.”
Bradbury’s second submission to the series was a teleplay adaptation of his 1951 short story “Here There Be Tygers,” which originally appeared in Raymond J. Healy’s anthology New Tales of Space and Time. “Here There Be Tygers” is a tale of far space exploration in which a group of astronauts, accompanied by a megalomaniac mineralogist, land on a sentient planet which can conversely produce their most fantastic wish or their most terrifying nightmare. Among the effects featured in the story are men flying through the air, fish jumping out of the water, a large, futuristic drill burrowing into the earth, and a display of earthquakes, volcanoes, and dinosaurs.
Bradbury’s script was rejected purely from a production standpoint. It was untenable under the budgetary constrictions on the series. Although The Twilight Zone occasionally boasted impressive set design (“The Chaser,” “Time Enough at Last,” “The Obsolete Man”), the series rarely attempted large-scale special effects, such as in “The Odyssey of Flight 33” or “The Little People.” Instead, reliance was placed upon minimalist planetary sets (“The Lonely,” “People are Alike All Over,”  “The Little People,” “Death Ship,” “On Thursday We Leave for Home,” “Probe 7, Over and Out”) or those which best utilized the MGM backlot (“Elegy,” “Third from the Sun,” “Stopover in a Quiet Town”). The lush world and astonishing wonders of “Here There Be Tygers” did not easily fit within this set of production restrictions.
Bradbury tried again a short time later with an original teleplay titled “A Miracle of Rare Device.” This tale concerned two drifters who discover a secret view of a cityscape mirage which changed depending on the observer. Producer Buck Houghton purchased the teleplay and even moved it into preproduction, assigning director Anton Leader, director of such memorable episodes as “Long Live Walter Jameson” and “The Midnight Sun,” to the script. For reasons which remain unclear, production on “A Miracle of Rare Device” halted, never to be resumed. Bradbury adapted his teleplay into a short story and sold it to Playboy, where it appeared in the January, 1962 issue. 
It was at this point in time that Bradbury’s frustration with Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone boiled over. This frustration manifested itself most strongly in charges of plagiarism aimed squarely at Rod Serling.

Earl Holliman in "Where Is Everybody?"
            The story which Bradbury told both Sam Weller, his official biographer, and Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion (and recorded by both, Weller in his biography and Zicree in a YouTube video) was that Rod Serling realized his pilot episode “Where is Everybody?” was an unintentional swipe of Bradbury’s “The Silent Towns,” a story featured in Bradbury’s famous 1950 story cycle The Martian Chronicles. Sometimes added to the story is the detail that Carol Serling was reading The Martian Chronicles when she viewed “Where Is Everybody?” and pointed out the similarities to her husband. In a late-in-life interview with Sam Weller, Bradbury claimed to have noticed the similarity between the stories when Serling screened "Where is Everybody?" for potential writers but made no mention of it at the time. 
            Viewed objectively, “Where Is Everybody?” and “The Silent Towns” share a single similarity. Both stories concern a solitary man who suddenly finds himself in an abandoned town. Here the similarities end. “The Silent Towns” takes place on Mars and describes how all of the people living on Mars suddenly leave to return to Earth and face the possibility of a nuclear war. One man stays behind and wanders through the empty Martian landscape. To his surprise, he discovers that a woman has also elected to stay behind. When he meets her, however, he finds that she is physically unattractive and quickly abandons her.
            Serling’s story concerns an Air Force pilot undergoing an isolation test in preparation for space travel whose mind fractures and produces elaborate hallucinations symbolizing his isolation.  
            For his part, Serling claimed to have arrived at the idea for “Where Is Everybody?” while walking through an empty studio backlot street and marveling at the emptiness combined with the feeling that the people who belonged in the houses on the street were watching him from hidden places. 
            The story goes on that Serling, realizing his unintentional swipe, contacted Bradbury to apologize. Bradbury gave his grace that Serling’s admission was compensation enough. Serling called back, however, and stated that the situation did not sit right with him and insisted on compensating Bradbury for the story rights to “The Silent Towns.” Serling promised to get his lawyers on it and then never followed up. Bradbury never received payment for “The Silent Towns” and then began to experience the added insult of the rejection of his scripts on his series. 
Bradbury previously experienced the unauthorized use of his fiction in other mediums, and this undoubtedly steeled him against the slightest possible similarity between his works and another's. Less than a decade before, Bradbury became aware of unauthorized adaptations of his stories in comic magazines published by William M. Gaines under the E.C. Comics banner, home to such titles such as Weird Science, Tales from the Crypt, and Shock SuspenStories. Bradbury wrote Gaines a mock-sarcastic letter informing him of the oversight and that Bradbury was expecting a check for use of the stories. Gaines, along with his editor Al Feldstein, wrote to Bradbury with an apology and payment as well as an offer to produce authorized adaptations of Bradbury’s stories. Bradbury agreed and the result was a series of enduring adaptations of Bradbury’s work which are now considered classics of their type.
            A few years later, Bradbury became aware of an unauthorized adaptation of his work on the prestigious television anthology Playhouse 90. On October 3, 1957, for the fourth episode of the second season, Playhouse 90 presented a drama by Robert Alan Aurthur titled "A Sound of Different Drummers." Several people close to Bradbury immediately noticed the strong similarity between the drama and Bradbury's famous 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 and informed Bradbury of the transgression. Bradbury filed suit and, though initially unsuccessful, was awarded an undisclosed sum upon appeal but later claimed that the grueling process (which took over three years) dissuaded him from bringing any future litigation to potential cases of plagiarism. See here for a fuller picture of Bradbury's feud with Playhouse 90. 
           By the time The Twilight Zone came along there was just cause for Bradbury to be defensive about potential unauthorized use of his work. 
The unfortunate exchange over “Where is Everybody?” corresponded with plagiarism charges leveled at Serling from an array of professionals and amateurs alike. Serling seemed to be under constant threat of litigation for the use of story ideas pioneered by others, a situation engineered in part by Serling's disastrous call for open submissions during the first season of The Twilight Zone. One prominent example occurred when Serling's first season episode, "The After Hours," was openly challenged by veteran pulp writer Frank Gruber. Although the series settled with the accusers in a handful of instances for Serling's scripts, such as the fifth season episode “Sounds and Silences,” it was just as often for another writer’s work. Charles Beaumont’s excellent fourth season episode “Miniature,” for instance, was the subject of litigation which subsequently kept the episode out of syndication for decades. The situation reached a point in which nearly every episode written by Serling was placed under scrutiny for plagiarism, sometimes with Bradbury leading the charge. Strangely enough, Bradbury even gave Serling grief over being introduced as the creator of The Twilight Zone during the preview segments where the preceding episode was written by another writer. In another bit of unusual advice, Bradbury suggested that Serling hire Charles Beaumont into a position where Beaumont could read over all of Serling's scripts to ensure that Serling was not borrowing from writers he should be paying for the use of their work. Beaumont had earlier offered Serling the same service free of charge when Serling first came under significant fire for plagiarism. 
Gig Young in "Walking Distance"
            The primary episode Bradbury decried was Serling’s moving first season story “Walking Distance,” an acknowledged classic of the series. “Walking Distance” is an episode which shares certain thematic traits with Bradbury’s work but is not a story which can be traced to a single corresponding Bradbury tale, despite the efforts of others to do so.*** A closer look at the formative experiences of Serling and Bradbury illustrates similarities which resulted in “Walking Distance” being tonally related to Bradbury’s tales of childhood nostalgia. Just as Bradbury’s fictional Green Town can be traced to his boyhood in Waukegan, Illinois, so too can Serling’s fictional Homewood be traced to Binghamton, New York, where Serling spent a largely idyllic childhood. The episode is filled with other hallmarks of Serling's writing, as well. There is the concern about the damaging effects of big business on the individual, a subject which also featured in Serling's Emmy Award winning "Patterns," for Kraft Theatre, as well as in the beloved Twilight Zone episode "A Stop at Willoughby." There is the poignant moment of a father and son relationship, which Serling approached again for "In Praise of Pip" and, in surrogate fashion, for "The Big Tall Wish." Serling's father died while Serling was in the service and Serling's request for leave to attend his father's funeral was denied. Many, including Serling's daughter Anne, have interpreted the father and son scene in "Walking Distance" as a way for Serling to have one final conversation with his own father through his creative work. Then there is the time travel element which was a favorite of Serling's throughout the series, seen again and again in such episodes as "Back There," "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim," and "No Time Like the Past."
            For a fuller picture of the feud over “Walking Distance,” I recommend Christopher Conlon’s essay “The Many Fathers of Martin Sloan,” which can be accessed here.
            Writers of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror cover a lot of the same ground and similar story ideas are bound to form independently in the minds of two or more writers. Combine this with the fact that writers in these genres were often presenting new variations on standard themes (ghosts, time travel, robots, dreams, locked room mysteries, etc.) and it is easy to understand how similar stories arise independent of one another. A good example is Rod Serling's first season episode, "Escape Clause," a classic deal with the Devil story, a story type which was the subject of popular literature for at least a century before Serling's take on the theme. Or take the story of the ventriloquist’s dummy discussed in our episode review of “The Dummy.” Rod Serling was likely inspired by a segment from the 1945 film Dead of Night**** when he wrote his own tale of this type, and yet the writers of that film were influenced by a prior work that did not receive screen credit. The Twilight Zone would present another tale of an evil ventriloquist's dummy with the dismal fifth season episode "Caesar and Me." 
            What are we to make of Ray Bradbury’s own admission to imitating the works of such writers as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, Henry Kuttner, and John Collier? What about Bradbury's admission that the structure of The Martian Chronicles was taken from Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio? Is the fictional detective Elmo Crumley found in Bradbury’s 1985 novel Death Is a Lonely Business an admission to borrowing from the works of the highly regarded detective novelist James Crumley? Should Bradbury have acknowledged H.G. Wells for borrowing Wells's time machine in "A Sound of Thunder," a short story which was later expanded into a six-novel series? I am not serious, of course. These points are intended to illustrate that the parameters for judgment on the issue are fluid. It is not terribly difficult to discern the influences which (sometimes strongly) inform a writer’s works, but acknowledged influence and conscious plagiarism are entirely different circumstances.
The writers on The Twilight Zone were not above imitating, or at least inspiring, one another. Are not “Static” and “Kick the Can” similar stories? What about “The Four of Us Are Dying" and "Dead Man's Shoes," or "Long Live Walter Jameson” and “Queen of the Nile,” the latter ghost-written by Jerry Sohl? Perhaps a more striking similarity can be seen in Richard Matheson’s “A World of Difference” and Charles Beaumont’s “Person or Persons Unknown.” One can hardly view Beaumont’s “Elegy,” based on an early story he wrote under the close tutelage of Ray Bradbury, and not see shades of Bradbury’s “Mars is Heaven!”, a 1948 story included in The Martian Chronicles as "The Third Expedition" and dramatized on radio and, later, television. With his season one episode, "A Nice Place to Visit," Beaumont, an acknowledged old-time radio enthusiast, borrowed the plot of a 1935 episode of The Fleishmann Hour titled "The Other Place," which was, incidentally, the original title of Beaumont's script. George Clayton Johnson heavily borrowed from Bradbury’s tale “Death and the Maiden” to craft his moving third season episode “Nothing in the Dark,” for which Bradbury largely held Serling accountable, under the pretense that Serling knowingly approved production of a plagiarized work.
         For a practical perspective, consider series writer Jerry Sohl's response when asked about the issue. When Sohl, ghostwriter for Charles Beaumont on such Twilight Zone episodes as "Queen of the Nile" and "Living Doll," was asked by author Matthew Bradley whether Sohl's fourth season Twilight Zone episode "The New Exhibit" was inspired by Robert Bloch's similar 1939 short story "Waxworks," which had recently been dramatized on Boris Karloff's Thriller series, Sohl replied: "No. We were just producing product, and if something resembled something else, or was very much like it why, that was the way it went. I mean, it was a big hassle. You had so much work to do, you didn't have time for it, really." As Rod Serling stated in an interview with Gamma magazine in 1963, "Under my contract I had to write 80% of the first two season's shows. Now the pressure is off, which is a helluva big help. The grind was more than I'd bargained for. As exec producer as well as writer I had to sweat out all kinds of stuff - ratings, set costs, casting, locations, budgets . . . Time was a luxury. If I dropped a pencil and stopped to pick it up I was five minutes behind schedule." Serling had to work quickly and produce a lot of material. This sort of environment engineered a need to occasionally rely on stereotypical material, which, by its nature, resembled another work. 
A conflict arises due to the fact that, although he did not take from the works of Ray Bradbury, there are occasions when Rod Serling all but certainly used the work of another writer without attributing proper credit on The Twilight Zone. The two most striking examples are the first season episode “Nightmare as a Child,” which bears a strong similarity to Truman Capote’s O. Henry Award story from 1945, “Miriam,” and the second season episode “The Silence,” an episode Serling later admitted resembled Anton Chekhov’s 1889 tale “The Bet.” We document the story similarities in our reviews of those episodes. The question then becomes whether or not Serling knowingly used another's work without providing payment or credit. It is difficult for this writer to believe that a man like Rod Serling, a humanist with a impenetrable sense of morality and decency, would knowingly steal from another writer, especially a writer he greatly admired, without providing compensation and/or credit. The amount of material he was required to produce and the genre in which he was required to produce it generated the occasional similarities between Serling's stories and previously published material. There is also the strong possibility that in some instances Serling was inspired by something he had previously read but had since forgotten what had inspired him or where he had encountered it. As Serling himself noted in a letter to Charles Beaumont, the situation reached a point where every Serling episode was microscopically examined for the smallest similarity to a previously published story. 

            In 1961, Bradbury submitted a revised version of his teleplay for “I Sing the Body Electric” to The Twilight Zone. Producer Buck Houghton bought it and put it into production in October of that year.  
            Director James Sheldon, who had previously directed such episodes as “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” “Long Distance Call,” and “It’s a Good Life,” was assigned to the story. There was some remaining trepidation concerning the viability of the teleplay. The script possessed a unique set of characteristics in that it ran overly long yet featured an odd narrative structure wherein the traditional story arc finished well before the required time needed for production. Adding to the problems with the script was the fact that James Sheldon disliked the choice of Josephine Hutchinson as Grandma. The episode was shot on schedule but it soon became clear that something essential was missing from the performance.
            After viewing the initial footage, Serling and Houghton decided that there was more work to do. In fact, Houghton later described the ensuing process to author Marc Scott Zicree as nearly a complete reshoot of the episode. This occurred only one other time on the series with the first season episode “The Mighty Casey,” which required extensive reshoots, paid for out of Serling's pocket, to account for the death of actor Paul Douglas. The reshoots on "I Sing the Body Electric" did not begin until February, 1962. As a result, the episode lost two of its players in director James Sheldon and actress June Vincent, in the part of Aunt Nedra, both of whom were unavailable at the time. Houghton’s solution was, with the permission of James Sheldon (a Directors Guild requirement), to bring in another director, William Claxton, who directed such episodes as “The Last Flight,” “The Jungle,” and “The Little People.” Doris Packer was brought in to replace June Vincent. Adding to the frustration was that the reshoots were driving up the cost of the episode.  
            Changes were made to Bradbury’s teleplay which would have repercussions concerning Bradbury’s continued relationship with Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Bradbury was asked to perform revisions to his teleplay but, according to Bradbury, the request came too late in the process as Bradbury was hard at work on revisions for his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes and had not the time to provide the necessary revisions to his Twilight Zone script. As a result, a scene which was very important to Bradbury (but not to the overall narrative structure of the story) was inadvertently excised.
            The scene in question concerns a moment in which George Rogers (David White) asks Josephine Hutchinson’s character: “Why are there electric grandmothers?” The brief exchange which followed was intended by Bradbury to illustrate the differences between being human and the approximation of human behavior. It lasted roughly a minute and was viewed as superfluous to the overall narrative. 
For Bradbury, this exchange between the father and the electric grandmother was the essence of his tale and its removal was unpardonable.
            The way in which Bradbury discovered the changes to his script also played a role in the manner in which he responded. Instead of being informed by Serling that the scene was cut, Bradbury viewed the episode while gathered at his home with a group of friends and family. The long road to Bradbury’s work finally being realized on the program was cause for celebration. Instead, Bradbury was mortified to view his altered story.  
            Bradbury’s response was to inform Serling that both their personal friendship and Bradbury’s association with The Twilight Zone were at an end. Bradbury viewed the altering of his script as a violation of trust.
            It is important at this point to dispel a persistent myth about The Twilight Zone. It is widely accepted, due in part to comments from the show's writers, that scripts for The Twilight Zone were never altered during the course of filming, that the writer’s words were never changed. This is simply untrue and the many available Twilight Zone scripts bear this out. Although the work of the writers on the series was strongly protected by Rod Serling, there were instances in which teleplays had to be altered due to the demands of the production, whether it was something as small as the changing of character names or something larger in the narrative structure, such as the addition or deletion of entire scenes.
No writer on the series was free from these sometimes necessary alterations. The previous broadcast episode, “Young Man’s Fancy,” included a distinct change to Matheson’s original ending for the story. An earlier Matheson episode, “Once Upon a Time,” required numerous changes from Matheson’s original script. George Clayton Johnson’s second season episode “A Penny for Your Thoughts” featured several small changes between his initial teleplay and the finished episode. One example is that of a coin standing on its edge to signify Hector Poole’s mind reading ability. This did not exist in Johnson’s teleplay and was added during production. For Johnson’s “A Game of Pool," a completely different ending was substituted for that which was featured in Johnson’s original teleplay. Johnson’s later episode, “Ninety Years Without Slumbering,” was so altered during production that Johnson took only story credit for the episode and used a pseudonym. Charles Beaumont was forced to compromise on his original vision for the reveal of the Devil in “The Howling Man.” Beaumont desired a more ambiguous reveal whereas director Douglas Heyes wanted a literal transformation. Heyes’s version was filmed. In the same episode Beaumont was forced to change the crosses carried by the monks to shepherd staffs. Beaumont’s later episode, “Long Distance Call,” written with William Idelson, required a complete rewrite of the penultimate scene, a task which Beaumont and Idelson performed on-set. Rod Serling’s script for “The Midnight Sun” saw the excision of two characters and two scenes due to time constraints. There are numerous other examples.
            The obvious difference between the above examples and what happened on “I Sing the Body Electric” is that Serling, Matheson, Johnson, and Beaumont were involved in, or at the very least informed of, the changes made to their scripts. Although Bradbury was informed that changes needed to be made to "I Sing the Body Electric," he was not aware of what those changes were before seeing the initial episode broadcast. 

            It is difficult to discern what director James Sheldon disliked about Josephine Hutchinson’s (1903-1998) performance as Grandma. The veteran actress exudes kindness and love without overplaying her hand or allowing the performance to be debased by cloying sweetness. Hutchinson was born in Seattle, the daughter of actress Leona Roberts. She began appearing in films as a teenager through her mother’s connections in the industry. Hutchinson moved into television in the late 1950s, appearing on such programs as Perry Mason, Kraft Suspense Theatre, The Sixth Sense, and many others.
There are several suggestions in the episode that the Electric Grandmother possesses the appearance of the children’s deceased mother, an element Bradbury dropped in his later prose adaptation of the story and substituted with the effect that the Electric Grandmother appears differently to each child. Hutchinson was 59 when this episode was filmed, which would have made her an unusually aged mother to three preteen children.
The standout member of the cast is Veronica Cartwright (1952- ) as the child Anne. Cartwright and her look-alike younger sister Angela both began working in television at very young ages (Angela featured prominently on Make Room for Daddy and Lost in Space). Veronica had early roles on Zane Grey Theater and Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond before her appearance on The Twilight Zone. She also had a memorable early role in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, but is now perhaps better known for her roles as an adult in such films as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Alien, and The Witches of Eastwick.  
David White (1916-1990) rounds out the cast as the father, George Rogers. White is best known for his role as Darrin Stephens’s boss Larry Tate on Bewitched. Incidentally, that series featured four lead parts played by actors who also appeared on The Twilight Zone: Elizabeth Montgomery (“Two”), Dick York (“The Purple Testament,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts”), Agnes Moorehead (“The Invaders”), and White.
            As stated before, the only casting change required by the re-shooting of the episode was that of Aunt Nedra, initially played by June Vincent and performed in the finished episode by Doris Packer. This character was an homage by Ray Bradbury to his Aunt Neva, to whom Bradbury was very close. Neva, just ten years Bradbury’s senior, introduced the young Bradbury to many works of art, music, and literature. Bradbury considered Neva pivotal in steering the direction of his creative life.
            An underrated aspect of the episode is the music by Nathan Van Cleave, who also composed scores for such episodes as "Perchance to Dream," “Two,” “The Midnight Sun,” “Jess-Belle,” and “Steel.” Here Van Cleave’s music is by turns achingly nostalgic and pleasantly whimsical. Hearing Van Cleave’s score in isolation reveals the narrative power of the composition, conveying as it does all of the emotion and exposition of the tale without the need of dialogue.
            This episode also features a rare middle narration by Rod Serling, necessitated by the odd narrative structure of the teleplay. The traditional narrative arc of the story ends with Anne being rescued by Grandma and their subsequent reconciliation. However, the episode continues with a brief montage denoting the growth of the children, followed by an epilogue (without David White’s character) in which the children, now grown to young adulthood, say farewell to Grandma on her final day in service to the family. 
            One area in which the episode is woefully dated is in the idea that a single father could not possibly take care of his own children. It is plainly stated in the episode that George Rogers stands to lose his children if he does not bring a mother figure into the household, a notion which strikes the modern viewer as ludicrous and alarmingly narrow-minded. Wisely, Bradbury downplayed this aspect in later forms of the story. 
            The title of the episode is derived from Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name, a point driven home by Vaughn Taylor’s salesman character in the episode. A version of Whitman’s poem originally appeared, untitled, in the 1855 edition of his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. In a 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass it appeared as “Poem of the Body.” The poem first appeared as “I Sing the Body Electric,” with its famous opening lines, in Whitman’s 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass.

            Bradbury, for his part, found more mileage in the story than its single, problematic appearance on The Twilight Zone. Bradbury reworked his teleplay into a prose story published as “The Beautiful One Is Here” in the August, 1969 issue of McCall’s (Bradbury later reused the title as the opening chapter of his 2001 fix-up novel From the Dust Returned). It is often erroneously reported that the Twilight Zone episode is an adaptation of the short story. Although Bradbury concurrently worked on his teleplay and a prose version of the story, the production of the teleplay preceded publication of the short story by seven years. 
The basic narrative structure of the story remains the same but is markedly different from the Twilight Zone episode in a number ways. A principal change is in the children. Whereas the episode features two girls and one boy, the story features two boys and one girl. The names of the children are also slightly different. Tom remains the same but the others become Timothy and Agatha, with Agatha assuming the role parallel to Anne in the episode. The oldest boy, Tom, narrates the tale. Another name change is to the Aunt who, in the story, is named Clara.
The story also features a vaguely futuristic setting in which it is common to travel by helicopter for daily errands and to encounter moving floors in office buildings. Other changes include the name of the company which produces the Electric Grandmother from Facsimile Limited to Fantoccini Limited. Fantoccini roughly translates as puppet or Puppet Theater from the Italian. A final interesting change is to the ending of the tale. In the story, the children reconnect with Grandma when they become very old and once again need her daily care.
Bradbury used the story title “I Sing the Body Electric!” when he included the story in his 1969 collection also titled I Sing the Body Electric!
1982 saw the appearance of a one-hour television drama, The Electric Grandmother, based on the story version of “I Sing the Body Electric.” This adaptation, by Bradbury and Jeff Kindley, was directed by Noel Black, who also directed two segments of the Twilight Zone revival series, “To See the Invisible Man” and “Song of the Younger World.” The Electric Grandmother adhered closely to Bradbury’s story and initially aired on January 17, 1982 on NBC. It starred Maureen Stapleton as the Electric Grandmother, Edward Herrmann as the Father, Paul Benedict as the eccentric salesman, and Tara Kennedy, Robert McNaughton, and Charlie Fields as the children. The film was well received. It was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding children’s program and received a Peabody Award.
Bradbury realized his two rejected Twilight Zone scripts a quarter century later on The Ray Bradbury Theater. “A Miracle of Rare Device” originally appeared during the third season of the program on July 14, 1989. “Here There Be Tygers” followed as part of the fourth season and originally aired on November 30, 1990.

            There was likely a time when Ray Bradbury believed he would never be asked about his work on The Twilight Zone. The series was a frustrating side road off the main path of his remarkable career and was best placed in the rearview. He had not needed the series to bolster his career in any way, not in the way the series bolstered the careers of Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and George Clayton Johnson. Bradbury was already one of the two or three most renowned science fiction writers in the world, and he was quickly elevating his career to what he viewed as the more respectable world of mainstream fiction.
But The Twilight Zone became a genuine cultural landmark which even Rod Serling could not foresee happening. Journalists and authors soon arrived to question Bradbury about his time on the series. What was it like to work on The Twilight Zone? What it was like to work with Rod Serling? Why weren’t there more Bradbury stories on the series? Bradbury was forced to dig up his old frustrations time and again, re-opening wounds and stirring up forgotten anger. As a result, the narrative going forward was that Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling could not work together on The Twilight Zone; that Bradbury’s sole contribution was unexceptional and that it was tampered with by Serling. Add in the debate over plagiarism and by all reports Bradbury’s time with the series was an unfortunate disaster that destroyed a once-promising friendship between one of the 20th century’s great dramatists and one of the 20th century’s great fantasists.
It is unlikely that Bradbury’s career will ever be cleansed of his association with The Twilight Zone. It seems to be commented upon in every interview, biography, and profile of the author, and even makes its way onto packages of the author’s works.
            To be sure, “I Sing the Body Electric” is not a great episode, and it is debatable whether it is even a good one. Outside of Hutchinson and Cartwright the performances are little more than serviceable, the pacing is unusual, and the appendix montage and epilogue (from which David White is unexplainably absent) feel rushed, insubstantial, and unessential. Yet, the component which is most surprising when we learn how caustic Bradbury’s relationship to the series became is that the show worked so closely within the themes, settings, styles, and humanistic character found in Bradbury’s best work. Many members of the Southern California School of Writers, from Beaumont, Matheson, and Clayton Johnson to Jerry Sohl, OCee Ritch, and John Tomerlin, placed their work with the series and in the process created memorable and enduring stories. That Bradbury, the creative mentor of this Group, struggled mightily to get his work dramatized on the series boggles the mind. It seems to have simply been a combination of unfortunate circumstances.  
            If there is one fortunate aspect to be found, it is that neither The Twilight Zone nor Ray Bradbury were undone by the inclusion of one or the exclusion of the other. Bradbury went on to become a national treasure. His works, particularly his early works, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, The October Country, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, will likely never be out of print and are now considered American classics.

Grade: C
*Beaumont's unrealized series is not to be confused with the science fiction and fantasy anthology series Out There which ran on CBS from October, 1951 until January, 1952. That series was created by Donald Davis and produced by John Haggott.

**Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond (created by Merwin Gerard and hosted /directed by John Newland) ran for 96 episodes over 3 seasons, premiering just months before The Twilight Zone in January, 1959, though Newland lacked the charisma of Serling or Hitchcock. The series also inspired a short-lived revival, The Next Step Beyond. Boris Karloff could also be considered with his Thriller series running 67 episodes over 2 seasons and spawning a long-running comic book series, though it is arguable whether or not Thriller significantly increased the exposure of the already famous film actor. Karloff had earlier experienced failure with The Veil in 1958, in which a dozen episodes were filmed but never aired. Episodes have since been packaged for home video.

***One Bradbury story which is pointed to as the genesis of Serling’s “Walking Distance” is the 1948 story “The Black Ferris,” which concerns a carnival worker who uses a magical Ferris wheel to grow younger or older in order to swindle a wealthy widow out of her jewelry. The reason for its comparison seems to be Serling’s use of a carousel in “Walking Distance” to symbolize youth and subsequent growth into adulthood. According to Bradbury biographer Jonathan R. Eller, when Bradbury's story was adapted for the local Hollywood program Starlight Summer Theater in 1955, Bradbury suggested to the program's writer Mel Dinelli that the Ferris wheel be changed to a carousel. When Bradbury reused portions of “The Black Ferris” for his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes he changed the Ferris wheel in the story to a carousel. 

****This 1945 film was strongly influenced by the English ghost story and was itself a strong influence on Rod Serling, as he basically adapted three of the film’s five story segments for The Twilight Zone. From the film’s “The Hearse Driver,” based on a story by E.F. Benson, Serling crafted “Twenty-Two.” From the film’s “The Haunted Mirror,” Serling crafted “The Mirror.” From the film’s “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy,” inspired by a story by Gerald Kersh, Serling crafted “The Dummy.”

Additional Sources and Acknowledgements:

-The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller (William Morrow, 2005)

-Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews by Sam Weller (Stop Smiling Books, 2010)

-The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One, edited by Roger Anker (Gauntlet Press, 2004)

-“California Sorcerers” by Christopher Conlon (Introduction to: California Sorcery, ed. William F. Nolan and William Schafer, Ace Books, 2001)

-“The Incredible Scripting Man: Richard Matheson Reflects on His Screen Career” by Matthew R. Bradley (The Twilight and Other Zones, ed. Matthew R. Bradley, Paul Stuve, and Stanley Wiater, Citadel Press, 2009)

-"The Sound of a Single Drummer" by Stephen Bowie, The Classic TV History Blog (August 19, 2010)

-Interview with Buck Houghton by Marc Scott Zicree on “I Sing the Body Electric” from The Twilight Zone Definitive Edition DVD

-"The Gamma Interview: Rod Serling" by unknown, Gamma, vol. 1 no. 1 (July, 1963)

-“Rod Serling: The Facts of Life,” an interview by Linda Brevelle, Writer’s Digest, 1976; accessed November 15, 2017 at The Rod Serling Memorial Foundation (

-"Richard Matheson on 'The Honorable Tradition of Writing'," interview by James H. Burns, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, September, 1981

-“Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone” by R.K. Cunningham, The University of Illinois Press Blog (published August 22, 2014; accessed November 14, 2017)

-"Sohl Man: From The Twilight Zone to The Outer Limits and Beyond" interview with Jerry Sohl by Matthew R. Bradley, Filmfax 75-76 (Oct/Jan 2000)

-"Forerunners of 'The Twilight Zone'" by Allan Asherman, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine (September, 1981)

-The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (

-The Internet Movie Database (


--Ray Bradbury adapted his teleplay into a short story as “The Beautiful One is Here,” originally published in the August, 1969 issue of McCall’s. Bradbury reverted to the title “I Sing the Body Electric!” for inclusion in his 1969 story collection also titled I Sing the Body Electric! Bradbury repurposed his script for the 1982 television film “The Electric Grandmother” (written with Jeff Kindley), which originally aired on NBC starring Maureen Stapleton and Edward Herrmann. Bradbury contributed to two episodes of the first revival Twilight Zone series. He provided a story, “The Burning Man” (adapted by J.D. Feigelson), and an original teleplay, “The Elevator,” for the first season of that series. The two teleplays which were submitted to The Twilight Zone but not produced, “Here There Be Tygers” and “A Miracle of Rare Device,” were later dramatized, in somewhat altered form, on The Ray Bradbury Theater.

--“I Sing the Body Electric,” the 1969 short story, was included in the 1985 book anthology The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories (ed. Martin H. Greenberg, Richard Matheson, and Charles G. Waugh, Avon Books) despite not being the source material for the episode. Although Bradbury concurrently worked on a version of “I Sing the Body Electric” as a teleplay and a story, Bradbury’s filmed teleplay preceded the publication of his short story by seven years.

--James Sheldon also directed the episodes “The Whole Truth,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” “Long Distance Call,” “It’s a Good Life,” and “Still Valley.”

--William Claxton also directed the episodes “The Last Flight,” “The Jungle” and “The Little People.”

--David White also appeared in the episode “A World of Difference.”

--Vaughn Taylor also appeared in the episodes “Time Enough at Last,” “Still Valley,” “The Incredible World of Horace Ford,” and “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.”

--Dana Dillaway also appeared in the episode “One for the Angels.”

--“I Sing the Body Electric” was adapted into a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Dee Wallace, who appeared in the first revival Twilight Zone episode “Wish Bank.”


Book Covers, from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database:


  1. I believe I first stumbled across your extraordinary site while trying to spread the word about my book Richard Matheson on Screen: A History of the Filmed Works (2010). I am now expanding my scope with a screen history of the California Sorcerers, drawing heavily on my extensive interviews with Bloch, Bradbury, Johnson, Matheson, Nolan, and Sohl. That has brought me back to the Vortex, and even the egotistical thrill of seeing some of my articles cited is exceeded by my admiration for your scholarship.

    About 25 years ago, when I knew far less about the Group than I do now, I asked Ray about his work on the show, and he recounted both his presenting reams of literature to Serling and his disappointment at the scene missing from this episode. What’s especially interesting in retrospect is that he vented none of the anger or accusations of plagiarism so commonly cited, even stating that Serling either hired the writers he admired or duly bought and paid for their works to adapt. Perhaps he had mellowed with age, or perhaps it was just his innately positive nature, but I’m glad that he did not descend into rancor…

    1. Thanks for stopping by again, Matthew, and for the kind words. It means a great deal to someone who admires the work you've done on the subject. A screen history of the California Sorcerers sounds absolutely amazing. Consider my copy bought when it's published. Those writers were responsible for so many memorable films and television series that it's sure to be an exhaustive work and an eye-opening one for those who aren't knowledgeable about the Group.

      After reading everything I did to write this post I generally came to the conclusion that whatever feud existed between Serling and Bradbury was probably carried on by those around them rather than the writers themselves. I don't believe either man carried much of a grudge late into their lives. They admired one another too much.

  2. You're very kind. I know that between the duties of day job, family, and home, the new book will take forever to write, but since I consider it the culmination of everything I've been doing for the past 25 years, perhaps that's apt. As for Ray and Rod, I equate it somewhat with the periodic wrangling over who did what among Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko in the formative days of the Marvel Universe. I much prefer to focus on all of the magic they created, together and/or apart, than on any divisions...