As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling (2024)

Rhea

244 reviews8 followers

May 18, 2013

Like most people, The Twilight Zone was a part of many stages of my life. As a child, there were episodes I loved, episodes that scared me and episodes I was too young to understand. Later Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone marathon would keep me company while on call at the hospital on holidays. When teaching courses about classic works in Social and Behavioral Sciences, I elected Rod Serling to be my teaching assistant. His insight into human nature and societal dynamics helped illustrate to my students why century-old theories were still relevant.

Whenever I teach a theory, I relay the life story of the theorist to my class to show them how life experience fuels the creative process. However I never gave much thought to the man behind the TZ episodes except to acknowledge his genius. I certainly never thought of him as a husband or father; Rod Serling was just the man who guided viewers to another dimension.

Reading “As I Knew Him” pulled back the curtains and showed me the man behind the icon – the child of hardworking parents, the brave paratrooper for whom the war never really ended, the fighter for social justice and equality, the writer who weaved his life experiences into art and entertainment and most importantly, the family man whose priorities never seemed to shift from those he loved.

Anne Serling invites us along as she examines her father’s life and her relationship with him. The emotion in her words makes it feel as if she is newly discovering answers as she writes and we are voyeurs into the processing going on in her head and her heart. The writing is raw, honest and vulnerable. Whether it’s the uncontrolled laughter of a little girl playing with her daddy or the paralyzing grief of a young woman struggling to find meaning in the world after the loss of her father, Anne Serling hides nothing from the reader. In doing so, you are transported into her world. My heart broke as she struggled with her loss and grief, it cheered as she found light in the world again, and it swelled with the love that is evident throughout the book.

Personally, I can only imagine the type of relationship that inspires such a love letter as Anne Serling as written to her father. The words she has strung together in tribute to him convey the magic of their bond, a bond that will never be broken. Anne Serling has obviously inherited her father’s talent though I am sure Rod Serling’s reply to this would be to craft a story where it is the parents who inherit the gifts from their children. Anne Serling has surely given her father -and us- an amazing gift in this reflective and heartfelt memoir.

    memoir

Brian Mcdonald

Author24 books76 followers

May 14, 2013

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the work of Rod Serling and how I respect him as a man. I can never get enough information about him and feel more connected to him than I do any other storyteller. For years now I have wanted to go see where he fought in the Philippines in World War II and to visit his hometown in Binghamton New York.

Most people think of him as the writer of the Twilight Zone, but I also read, or watch, his earlier work and admire that stuff just as much - things like Patterns, Velvet Alley and Requiem for a Heavyweight.
His work matters. He had something to say about what it means to be a human being in this world and our responsibility to other human beings and unlike many writers nowadays he was not afraid to say it. Most writers now would rather say nothing at all than risk appearing "preachy".

I have a screenwriter friend, Stewart Stern, who adapted one of Mr. Serling's television plays, The Rack, into the screenplay for the theatrical film and has nothing but kind things to say about Rod. He said to me wistfully one day, "I miss Rod. He was a sweet man". Stewart is about the sweetest man I know so this is high praise.

All of my life I have envied those who got to meet Rod, or work with him or studied under him or called him a friend. It is because of this that I would like to thank Anne Serling for her loving book about her father. I want to thank her for sharing her father with the rest of us. It cannot be easy to have such a public parent when you want him all to yourself so there is something selfless about what Anne Serling has done here. I felt like I got to know Rod and even grieve along with Anne when she writes of her struggle with his death.

Her book is well written and easy to read in that way that looks easy - it's hard work to write something that is easy to read.

If you are dealing with the grief of a loved one this book may make you feel less alone. And if you are a fan of Rod Serling this book may help you feel a little closer to him.

Jeffrey Roberts

1 review1 follower

May 13, 2013

There was never anyone like him.

Nobody sounded like him, nobody looked like him. And certainly nobody wrote like him. Rod Serling was a singular figure, a hugely talented visionary writer who also happened to posses such striking presence that he seemed larger than the medium in which he thrived. His resonant voice, his angular good looks, the suit & tie, the wisp of cigarette smoke served to break him free of the then mostly tiny black & white box which could not hold his veracious imagination in check. He generously welcomed us, seated in the comfort of our homes, to join him in a Dimension of his own creation. If we were able to check our preconceived notions of what was real, what was possible, our fears and jealousies and bigotries, if we could let go of these, we were welcome at his Table of Ideas which he called THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Though there were any number of distinguished creative achievements before and after, the ZONE is what defined him and what we best remember. For a half-hour (and briefly, later, an hour) each week the television became a keyhole peek into another world, sometimes frightening, sometimes hilarious, always thoughtful, punctuated front and back by the man himself, or sometimes just his voice... that unmistakable voice... assuring us that we would be okay, that the world would somehow survive, that the human race would always have another shot at redemption.

And then he was gone. I was a child when Rod Serling passed away but was nevertheless profoundly moved; he'd been on my tv screen in endless reruns of THE TWILIGHT ZONE since the day I'd been born, and I'd caught some of the later NIGHT GALLERY episodes in their first run. I felt like I knew the man somehow, my 8 year old imagination racing along side his, sharing his remarkable stories which surely only a fellow child could have conceived. I knew he was a "grown up", but he was also a kindred spirit to my young self; I half expected a 35 year old version of me to turn up on my doorstep one day, alla WALKING DISTANCE, just wanting to talk to me, to let me know that all would somehow be well even though Mr. Serling was gone.

And now, remarkably, he is back. His daughter, writer/educator Anne Serling, has returned Rod Serling to us in the pages of her moving memoir AS I KNEW HIM. Mr. Serling lives and breathes in these pages, his 5th Dimension open for business once more, his humanity touchingly realized in words and pictures by someone who knew him better than practically anyone. The themes of human relationships, of the fragility of life, of the difficulty of letting go are vividly portrayed with uncommon honesty and candor by Ms. Serling. Revisiting all of the loss must not have been easy; the result is a triumph for both the author and her father. She has redeemed him from the shadows of 38 years, and in doing so has likewise redeemed the faith of that 8 year old I once was; if Rod Serling could grow up and not lose sight of the infinite promise of imagination, so I could I.

In writing AS I KNEW HIM, Anne Serling shares her father with us with all his humor, complexity and deep humanity intact, and her book comes highly recommended.

Daniel DeLappe

631 reviews6 followers

August 6, 2013

What a beautifully written book. There are other places you can go into Mr Serling's live and career. that is not the subject of this book. I guess having a daughter and being a huge Serling fan why I really loved this book. Read it. Enjoy this book and smile.

Tricia

4 reviews6 followers

April 26, 2016

Looking forward to reading my cousin Nan's book!

Jim Razinha

1,388 reviews76 followers

September 4, 2023

I think as I get older, these types of biographies, and autobiographies... mean more; they reach deeper - have an effect a younger me wouldn't see or understand. This is a testament - not just as daughter Anne knew him, but as so many who knew him, knew him. Rod Serling was never one-dimensional. Nor was he limited by that "fifth dimension" he invented, but too few people know of him as anything other than "that Twilight Zone guy". I knew of some things, thanks to an off and on obsession with the show that found me my first copy of The Twilight Zone Companion (which, quite obviously from the title, focused on the series and not Serling, per se), but this an intimate share from one of the few closest to him. Uplifting, enlightening, private, ...heart-wrenching - he died at age 50 when she was only 20 - there is a wealth of words here from letters and more. That should be no surprise as he was perhaps more than anything, a writer. Well, Ms. Serling does a wonderful job proving that assessment quite wrong. Rephrasing, he was perhaps known as more than anything else, as a writer. And more's the pity, until this emerged.

Serling's most famous work was sometimes criticized as being heavy-handed...preachy. But, he was deeply human, and passionate for humanist causes. He saw firsthand - and suffered during - the horrors of war, as a paratrooper in the Philippines during World War II. The experiences couldn't be not woven into the different worlds he created.

He seemed in hindsight to know some of the Achilles heels of his nation and of our future nation. Following calls to and by a sponsor to temper a message he said: "From experience, I can tell you that drama, at least in television, must walk tiptoe and in agony lest it offend some cereal buyer from a given state below the Mason-Dixon." In response to viscous backlash [from, largely, care to guess?] to an allegorical teleplay marking the 25th anniversary of the UN, to one woman he wrote back

I was deeply interested in conveying what is a deeply felt conviction of my own. This is simply to suggest that human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake.
continuing
Philosophically we stand at opposite ends of the pole, because you choose to believe that anyone who disagrees with you must, of necessity, be subversive. [...] But because I’m an American, I suggest this is your right. I suppose the major difference in our philosophies is that I recognize your right. The unfortunate thing is that you don’t recognize mine.

He did not fear calling out the reprehensible Gov. George Wallace as
that political stalwart who made a public quote that he would never be out-nigg*red again. This from the man running for the highest office in the land.

Nor Nixon and his

shabby crew who have written indelible chapters in the threadbare saga of the most corrupt, incompetent and downright immoral administration in the history of the American Republic.
I would be imprudent to presume what he would have to say about the situation ripening in 2016 and continuing into at least the 2017 as of this review and for at least some horrific future, but I can't help but imagine his anger, embarrassment, disgust at what the "highest office" has devolved to, and I know Serling would unleash a well-composed, too literate, too intellectual, ... too liberal... invective that he would sadly know would be lost on his target audience.

But this book is a story of Anne Sterling's special relationship with - and prolonged, agonized, ...intensely personal ... grief (only the last three chapters, but the tone of loss is present throughout) after the passing of - her father. Don't mistake... the majority of the book’s chapters are recollections and reconstructed recollections of Anne's life with her father and some of his life before her time.

Back in 2008-2010, I took a little more than two and a half years to watch every episode of The Twilight Zone, in original airing order. Remember that little "obsession"? Took me a very long time to collect them all - several were never released in the syndication package. Reading this has made me want to re-watch them again...in time perhaps with the 60th anniversary? And The Night Gallery...which, oddly, I don't recall ever watching any of. I plan to watch it and rewatch...in order, and this time even more closely...The Twilight Zone, taking my time and savoring them...even the bad ones.

Anne shares a few letters from her childhood/school friends, as they knew him. One in particular touches...

One Christmas vacation, I flew out to their home in California and spent four days with Anne and her family, getting the full tour of Disneyland, Universal Studios and all the special out-of-the-way places that only the locals had access to. I fell in love with the palm trees and the weather, but I especially fell in love with the private Rod Serling—the family man who got down on the floor and rolled around with the Irish Setter; the man who ferried his daughter and her wide-eyed friend around because it was fun for him, too; the man who wasn’t afraid to be silly and laugh at himself.

I wonder what memories my children will have of me when I'm gone. I plan on being around a long time to torment them, so ... :)

Read this book if you care. You should learn much about the man. And maybe, a little about humanity.

Nancy

1,626 reviews406 followers

April 27, 2017

Anne Serling's memoir of her father Rod is a moving and loving tribute to the man she knew as a fun companion, a sure foundation, and an adored father who died much too young.

Anne talks about her father's beloved parents and his love of family, his encountering prejudice even from his mother-in-law, and the devastating experience of war in the South Pacific that left him with nightmares. Therein are the roots of the values we discover in his Twilight Zone episodes, his nostalgic idealization of childhood and children, the power of compassion and forgiveness, the need for civilization to "remain civilized."

After his war service, tortured by PTSD, Rod turned to writing as catharsis. He believed that prejudice was the basic evil from which all evils took root. The stories he wrote attack the worst of mankind, and extol our best efforts. And yet, behind this tortured and angry righteousness lay the heart of a child, a man who loved to be goofy, who got on his hands and knees to play with his beloved dogs. He loved watching The Flintstones and Huckleberry Hound with his girls, Christmas, trips to Disneyland, summers at the cottage, and It's A Wonderful Life.

He was a lifelong smoker, never without a cigarette, his girls gagging and coughing and complaining in the car and throwing out his cigarettes behind his back. I had to smile, for I had done those same things to my mother.

Rod was a very short man, fit and tan, with dark wavy hair and eyebrows, dark eyes. I had never it considered before, but he looked like my own father. Dad was 5' 7" and 130 pounds most of my life, with dark wavy hair and thick eyebrows. The resemblance strikes me now.

As a girl watching the Twilight Zone, my favorite show at age 8, I did notice Rod's smoking. I thought that when I grew up and smoked I'd buy cigarettes from the company that was his sponsor. I never did smoke, thankfully.

As I read Anne's story about her father's last days and death I shared her grief, recalling my own father's and mother's death by cancer. I feel great sympathy. She was only twenty when she lost her dad and it took many years for healing to come.

The writer's role is to menace the public's conscience, Rod Serling wrote. The parables and messages of his work are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s.

This is a beautiful memoir about a man who did not expect to be remembered but who has impacted generations.

Visit Anne Serling's webpage at http://www.anneserling.com.
Read more about the Twilight Zone and it's value lessons at
https://theliteratequilter.blogspot.c...

Steve Wiggins

Author9 books79 followers

August 3, 2019

It’s difficult to say how we become who we are. Identity is a moving target, and with so many people we tend to use shorthand to understand who they are, or were. I’ve always been fascinated by the strange. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, it’s no wonder that I fell under the spell cast by The Twilight Zone. (I presume if you’re reading this review you know what The Twilight Zone is.) I can’t really define it, but since Rod Serling appeared as the host, I grew quite attached to him. As a child I didn’t know much about writing, but I knew that he appeared to be a good father, at least on camera. Anne Serling’s biography of her father indicates that impression was correct.

Through the years as I’ve struggled to become a writer, I’ve grown fascinated by the stories of those who’ve succeeded. Although this memoir is part about Anne and part about Rod, the result in the same—we learn that what Rod Serling wanted to be remembered for was being a writer. In that he succeeded. At least in my book. In this very personal and “up close” portrait, Anne Serling deftly walks us through what it’s like to be the child of someone great. It’s natural, I suppose, to idolize a good father, but this isn’t idolization. Rod Serling had his faults, but since you can often measure a person by the quality of their children, it’s apparent that Serling’s struggle against prejudice and inhumanity in all its forms led to a daughter who understands what it is to be the child of a writer. A writer who has conviction. And who learns there’s a price to pay for conviction.

This is a moving memoir. Rod Serling died prematurely, and the reader gets the sense that Anne regrets that loss deeply. During college we’re so wrapped up in becoming who we want to be that parents often have to fade almost to black. Even if your father is famous. My experience of Rod Serling was that of a child watching The Twilight Zone. As a teen I discovered Rod Serling as a writer, and one I wished to emulate. This book took me back to that place, and for others who have similar foggy recollections, I’m sure it will do the same. For those interested, I wrote more about the book on my blog: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.

Melanie Sloan

1 review11 followers

December 20, 2013

This is an incredibly moving intensely personal
love letter from a daughter to a father . He was one of the centuries greatest writers and continues to be much beloved by his fans. We are blessed that Anne Serling has inherited her fathers talent and has written a haunting and beautifully written memoir. We can all relate to her vividly expressed sense of devastating loss and struggle for recovery. Thank you Anne for the best book this and any year.

Petra

1,176 reviews21 followers

June 22, 2017

I cannot rate a person's personal memories. They belong to that person and the value of the memory remains with the person.
Anne tells a heartwarming story of a beautiful childhood with a wonderfully warm father. He spent time with his children, cared about their activities & thoughts, he tried to teach them to think & to help better their world. It's truly wonderful.
She lost him at an important time (she was around 19); that's a difficult time for a girl to lose a loving father. She's on the brink of womanhood, she still needs her father when they are that close.
The underlying grief and depression ran throughout the book. I wondered how much these memories were perfected through that grief. Also, the memories are the memories of a child, which leaves a lot of the man left unexplored and unknown.
The title says it all, I think. This is Anne's story more than it is Rod's. However, Anne's story is of a wonderful relationship. Only a loving, warm man would build such a strong, loving bond. RIP, Rod.

    non-fiction

Nancy Narma

155 reviews5 followers

March 26, 2013

“An Intimate Look Into the Life and Loves of Rod Serling”

Being a child of the Fifties, living in close proximity to his hometown of Binghamton, New York as well as being a diehard “Twilight Zone” fan, I thought I knew all there was to know about writer/producer/director,
Rod Serling. Was I ever wrong! Daughter, Anne Serling has given readers an intimate look into this multi-faceted genius of a man she is proud to call her Father. We learn of Rod’s early childhood years and the struggles of his beloved Mother and Father, (who owned and operated “Serling’s Wholesale Market” on Washington Street in Binghamton) all the while giving him love, courage, encouragement and strength. The shared letters between Rod and his parents are heart tugging and honest. We follow Rod into his paratrooper training and as a member of the 511th Airborne Division, a division which landed in the Philippines and into the Battle of Leyte-which was among some of the fiercest fighting of the war and where he sustained a leg injury which will plague him for the rest of his life. We are privy to his college days and the courtship and marriage to a lovely lady named Carolyn, who was his Soulmate and gave him the gift of two delightful Daughters, whom he adored. Author as well as devoted Daughter, Anne, shares snippets of several episodes of the “Twilight Zone” and the inspiration behind them. There are mentions of his “Old Stomping Grounds” in Binghamton and Ithaca, New York and beyond, mentioning his Mentor and Friend, Helen Foley and the Binghamton Central High School. His works were not limited to television, as you will soon learn with his outstanding screenwriting. There are many touching stories of those who worked and played (Paddle tennis, etc.) with Rod and knew him well. I feel one of the most touching parts in the book is the correspondence between Father and Daughter. Thank-you Ms. Serling, for sharing those precious memories with us, his admirers and fans. As you will plainly see, Rod Serling wore many hats, and he wore them well. Son, Husband, Father, Talented Writer, Champion of the Underdog, proud American Citizen and so much more. He might have been small in stature, but he was a tiger when it came to a cause he believed in. We are witness, when at the young age of 50, he dies of heart complications and we are taken into the world of a Daughter’s grief. A grief that only one who has gone through something similar concerning someone close to them can identify with. It is a dark, nasty monster with gnarled teeth, that once bitten, you have a difficult time unclenching its jaws, but with the love and support of her Family and Husband, Anne Serling shows us it can be done and the love she has for her Father will continue for all eternity. Whatever you plan on reading this Spring, please put this title on your TBR list—It is one book that should not be missed. Nancy Narma

David

575 reviews125 followers

December 3, 2018

This memoir penetrated my soul - and it's simply one of the loveliest tributes I've ever read.

In a relatively compact space of time - and true to the word of the book's title - Anne Serling vividly recalls her life with her father. (Interestingly, when she mentions one of his many pursuits, she uses the present tense: i.e., "My father teaches at..." - a reference to the belief that he remains with her in spirit.)

Serling took on a significant amount of research to trace what her father's lineage meant to him. He was a sentimental man and she followed that sentiment. She interviewed a number of people who knew him well - not only during his time in the military during WWII but while he began making a name for himself as a writer. (Anne would be on the threshold of being a young adult before fully realizing the place her father was indelibly carving in the landscape of American culture.)

Rod Serling is best known today for his pioneering work with 'The Twilight Zone' - but this book either reminds or informs re: the extensive work he accomplished beyond the 92 (out of 156) episodes of that groundbreaking series. It also allows us to become very comfortable with the man who, in reality, was the polar opposite of the 'darker' image he presented to those watching their tv sets.

(My favorite part of the book is chapter 10 - with its wonderfully detailed account of exactly how Rod Serling broke through as a writer and began coming into his own.)

The reality was that, in countless ways (though Anne never tires of counting and describing those ways), the man was the life - and the love - of the party. Anne paints a portrait of her father as a big-hearted kid; a guy who admirably grew up (early on) in standards of morality - but otherwise was quite content being a teddy bear.

As the memoir reaches its conclusion, the daughter spends a lot of time recounting the grief that engulfed her for quite a long time. She had just become a young woman; losing a beloved father (at his young age of 50) is understandably devastating. Still... she holds him close. In a 'Twilight Zone' episode that Anne eventually happens upon, she hears her father telling her how near to her he still is: "The ties of flesh are deep and strong, the capacity to love is a vital, rich, and all-consuming function of the human animal. and you can find nobility and sacrifice and love wherever you might seek it out...". As Anne then concludes, "I find it in a darkened room on a summer afternoon. Something invisible, inaudible. and until now, quite mistakenly presumed gone."

Cynthia

1 review1 follower

June 7, 2013

You know those sayings, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" and "He's { or She's } a chip off the old block " ? Well, Anne Serling is her father's daughter....she's a story teller.
Her words are heartfelt and insightful,her writing allowed me to know the man , the father, the genius writer... Rod Serling; not just the black & white figure I watched for many years walking toward the TV screen in his tailored suit ~ cigarette in hand.
Somewhere out there, in a dimension far away but forever in your heart, he beams with pride Dear Anne.
It's a beautiful read ....THANK YOU !
As I Knew Him: My Dad Rod Serling
by Anne Serling

John Yingling

641 reviews15 followers

July 8, 2013

I was always a big fan of The Twilight Zone, and I thought Rod Serling was a first-rate writer. And now, I feel as though I know him as a man, father, friend, husband, and a concerned world citizen, thanks to this very warm, intimate memoir by his daughter. After reading this book, I wish all fathers were as caring and kind and loving towards their families as Mr. Serling was. Highly recommended, even if you have never heard of The Twilight Zone.

Sara

612 reviews64 followers

October 24, 2023

Lost my father a little over a year ago and haven't really found the time to process the loss or properly appreciate him. In true Twilight Zone fashion, Ann Serling's memoir provided that opportunity. I think they would have gotten along.

Karen Chung

396 reviews104 followers

May 23, 2021

While working through Qing dynasty author Pu Songling's "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio", it occurred to me to go back and watch the entire Twilight Zone opus as well – and I am constantly surprised by the many connections and similarities between the two. The cultural backgrounds and times of the two could hardly be more different, but the two authors approached their work with a similar observant, cynical and philosophical eye. For this reason, I wanted to learn more about Rod Serling, and happened upon this book of reminiscences by Serling's younger daughter.

The writing is excellent. I was really drawn into the book from start to finish, and largely achieved my goal of filling in background about the Twilight Zone creator and host. Interesting that Anne says that as a child she hardly knew what exactly her father did, other than that he was a writer, and she was surprised at how dark and scary the episodes could be when she finally saw some. My own father didn't want me to watch the program when I was small, fearing it would give me nightmares – and in fact even now I do remember some of the more frightening episodes. In this book I learned that even RS thought the same regarding his own young daughter.

Rod Serling, who usually held a cigarette during his monologues, was a 3-to-4 pack-a-day chain smoker. The kids would complain about the bad air in the back seat of the car on trips and their folks would open the car windows, which Anne said didn't help. He had tried to quit, but always unsuccessfully. Even when deathly ill he still plotted to get access to cigarettes. He ultimately died of a second heart attack, at age 50.

What really comes through in this book is the deep and genuine love and affection between Anne and her dad, and the other family members. She says she wrote the book to help her deal with her grief, and that it did help. It took a long time before she was able to visit her dad's grave, and listen to the last recording he made before passing. This again inspired comparisons with my own situation. I was also crazy about my own dad, but when I learned in my early 20s while away at grad school that he had been hospitalized, I was distraught, and now realized he would someday leave us. I started to prepare myself mentally almost every day for that day, whenever it was to happen. We were blessed to have him with us for another 20 years. And by then I felt ready to accept his leaving us. Although the Serling women knew of RS's worsening health, it seems they didn't do this kind of mental preparation, and hardly had the chance to, since RS died so young, when Anne was only 20. So Anne had to do the work after the fact – but ultimately did get through it.

I recommend this book highly to any Twilight Zone fan – and to anybody who has or had an extraordinary father you love like no one else.

Melanie Adkins

801 reviews19 followers

March 12, 2013

Many know Rod Serling from the show The Twilight Zone but few got the chance to know him outside of that. Fun, outgoing and a terrific man is how his friends would describe him. His youngest daughter Anne, tells of a man who was tortured by memories of war. A man who was very strict about following his own moral compass. Rod Serling was a man who hated bigotry of any kind and fought for what was right always. He was known as a man who was quick to explode but also equally quick to cool his temper. A family man first and foremost, he loved spending summers with his family at their east coast cottage in New York. Some of their fondest memories are there.

Anne Serling lets us walk with her through the journey that was her father's life. She shares with us an intimate look at the man behind the camera and away from Hollywood. This book is more of a diary between father and daughter. A loving, unconditional love between parent and child. Having been in Anne Serling's situation, losing her father, I understand the tough time dealing with his passing. I went through the same thing two years earlier. You'll love this book!

I found no issues. Anne shares more than anyone could hope for.

I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because I was already a fan of Rod Serling, but now have a deeper respect for this wonderful man.

Susan

20 reviews

July 7, 2013

Just finished reading this lovely book. Happy to be able to say I crossed paths with this wonderful writer so many years ago, middle school classmates for a short time. Anne has captured the love and loss of her father in a magical and honest way, with images and words I will not soon forget. A must read for anyone who anyone who never tires of watching a Twilight Zone episode (as I do); an essential read for anyone with a heart in need of healing.

Dave Jones

310 reviews2 followers

June 6, 2013

Great book about a great man, taken too soon by a girl who loved her daddy and based on your evidence, he felt the same. Anne Serling showed the same degree of writing ability as her dad which get word use. If you are a fan of Twilight Zone or Rod Serling or father-daughter relationships, this is a good use of your time.

Creolecat

332 reviews61 followers

July 20, 2016

Absolutely wonderful. I would give this book ten stars if I could. What a wonderful man. This book is nostalgic, funny, sad, thoughtful; full of life and full of love.

    familial memoir television-history

Claudia Quintero

12 reviews

May 13, 2024

Twilight Zone fue formativo desde que estoy en primaria y todavía casi 20 años después lo sigue siendo cada vez que Dani y yo nos sentamos a verla.

me movió mucho leer esta imagen de Rod a través de los ojos de una hija que lo amaba tan profundamente. realmente es una de las mentes mas brillantes, creativas y cautivadoras, tqm Rod Serling 💘

Johnny

Author10 books131 followers

September 3, 2013

Only two stations were available in the little Central Valley town where I lived in elementary school. So, one night when my parents weren’t paying attention, I watched television all by myself. It was an old black and white television set with a curved (as opposed to fully rectangular) picture tube. While I watched a show about a car, a car that looked a lot like Mom’s and Dad’s car, that came to life to bring a hit and run driver to justice, I was so frightened (and fascinated) that I gave up my television privilege and rushed right upstairs to the safety of my attic bedroom. Whenever I think of the Twilight Zone television series, I remember that episode. So, my eyes perked up when I read that Rod Serling’s own children weren’t allowed to watch the series until they were older. Guess I wasn’t the only one traumatized and fascinated at the same time.

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling is a personal memoir more than a biography. Serling’s youngest daughter has done a terrific job of bringing some primary sources to light with regard to Serling’s early life and the biographical sections are wonderfully written as she interweaves the events in Serling’s life with scripts he would write later in life. Yet, there are times when the personal admiration and devotion overshadows the biographical task. That doesn’t make this a bad book; it just makes it a different kind of biography.

Of course, I didn’t know much about Rod Serling. He was a mysterious figure from my childhood, recognized as a brilliant writer when I experienced his “Requiem for a Heavyweight” and “Hitchhiker” scripts as a college student. He was the quintessential voice-over/narrator/master of ceremonies voice to emulate when I wanted to sound profound, enigmatic, or analytic. As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling humanizes the writer who stressed the dignity of humanity and the virtue of self-giving. I hadn’t realized that he had racked up 40 rejection slips in a row when he was working at Cincinnati’s WLW radio station and trying to freelance at night (p. 77). I didn’t know that Ed Sullivan was strangely missing from the stage when he was supposed to present Serling with his first Emmy award (p. 84). I never knew that Leon Uris of Exodus fame had protested “In the Presence of Mine Enemies” as being pro-Nazi because one German soldier was humanized. Uris apparently demanded that CBS burn the script and recording. One Serling defender reminded Uris that it was more Josef Goebbel’s style to burn intellectual property (p. 99).

As a Serling admirer, I found it interesting to discover that he had a short attention span. It seems probable from Buck Houghton’s description (Houghton was the producer of The Twilight Zone to Serling as executive producer) of Serling’s self-imposed ten minute limit for story conferences that he might have had something like ADHD (p. 105), but if so, he was significantly more productive than most.

I was very amused at the card sent by Jerry Paris (who played the neighbor on the old Dick Van Dyke Show and directed a lot of The Bob Newhart Show episodes) when Serling was recovering from his first heart attack. Paris wrote, “Berg said you were dead…but he always calls them wrong.” (p. 132) I also love the story about how his daughter was working at a summer camp when her father came to pick her up. One of the other counselors had seen part of a Twilight Zone episode the night before but hadn’t seen the ending. He’s begging people to tell him the ending and doesn’t see Serling sit down in the empty seat beside him. “Someone begins laughing, and he finally turns and sees my dad sitting beside him. The expression on his face was priceless.” (p. 213)

I hope that when I die someone can say something as authentic and beautiful as Dick Berg said at the West Coast Memorial Service for Serling. “It’s been said that he worked hard and played hard. That isn’t so. He played with the enthusiasm of an innocent. And the work, in fact, came naturally.” (p. 248) That seemed so honest and gave me such insight into the man. Yet, my favorite line in the book was a quotation from a USC graduation speech that Serling gave on March 17, 1970: “Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our name.” (p. 212) What a horrible indictment on our culture! Yet, what a chance to turn the vehicle around! Like a prophet from the Hebrew Bible, Serling gives us damnation and hope in the same “verse.”

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling is a moving book, a heartfelt authentic communication from a child who peeked into the Valley of the Shadow, carried away the demon of grief, and managed to find life and love beyond her loss. I vicariously experienced the grief with this woman and found myself appreciating my daughters even more this week. I haven’t even lost my father (and I’m older than Anne’s father was when he died), but I feel like this book was therapy for me.

    biography

Bill Breedlove

Author11 books17 followers

June 27, 2013

As a huge fan of Rod Serling (and not only his Twilight Zone work--I will cop to even liking some of Night Gallery--as well as his unsurpassed teleplays), this book was interesting to me, as it was written by his daughter and thus offered a tantalizing "behind the scenes" glimpse at the man behind the dark suits and clipped narration.

Because it was written by his daughter, this work is full of love and has no ax to grind with its subject, which will only disappoint the folks hoping for an Andrew Morton-esque trashing. It (hopefully) will be unsurprising to many that Serling was a devoted husband, father, and a serious thinker of the issue of the day.

In fact, my only caveat for potential readers who are looking for a Hollywood bio that "names names" is the lack of anecdotes about both the shows that Serling worked on, and the celebrities he mingled with off camera. A recollection of Betty White coming over for dinner and (naturally) paying a great deal of attention to the family dogs is about as celeb-centric as it gets.

However, this is not a bad thing. What emerges is a very interesting portrait of Serling, as largely seen through the eyes of a child during his rise and time as a very influential creative force in television. Aside from revelations that he was a humorous prankster, loved kids, cherished dogs and the like, there is not a great deal of information about Serling as an artist. It is more like a book that any child would write about their parent, except that in this case the parent happens to be one of the most iconic figures in television history.

And, that is okay. The title of this book is "AS I KNEW HIM" and that is precisely what the author provides--glimpses of the homelife of Rod Serling, who comes across as a strongly opinionated, hard-working, largely progressive (especially for his time) and definitely a man of convictions. So, if looking for behind the scenes gossip on what Burgess Meredith was really like, or where all those paintings in the Night Gallery came from, this is not the book for you. However, if you are interested in the man who was behind the iconic facade, you will be rewarded.

Marcia Miller

700 reviews12 followers

June 25, 2022

Having grown up with Twilight Zone, I was well aware of and a great admirer of Rod Serling. So, all these years later, I treated myself to the touching memoir of him as recalled and told by his second daughter, Anne.

Thanks to family stories, photos, old films, letters, journals, speeches, and the first-hand memories of many of Rod Serling's friends, family, and co-workers, Anne Serling has given readers a touching, heartfelt account of growing up with her famous--yet always down-to-earth dad. He died of heart failure at the age of 50, when Anne herself was barely 20.

Anne reveals many things about her beloved father that may have been known to some, but were relatively unknown to the public at large. It is some of these "reveals" that ground Rod Serling as not just a gifted writer, but also an extraordinary dad, husband, brother, son, and friend.

I felt proud learning more about Serling. Thank you, Miss Grumple.

Carolyn

658 reviews

September 7, 2014

Remarkable book! A father daughter relationship that was so beautiful and touching. Anne shares her father and his views with such an easy and ideal way. For a man to have only been with us for 50 years, we have many many thoughts to keep close in our lives. He spelled hope and redemption and a better way to live. He of all people made tremendous changes in the Twilight Zone. Thank goodness for passion and heart and the ability to write about it. Such a terrific homage to a lovely man! It is my hope that this book will be read by Americans far and wide that believe in our morality, faith, politics, and hope for the future! We need to be about the business of equality, truth, and family values.

Robbie Shofner

2 reviews1 follower

January 31, 2014

Wow. This book is a winner on many levels. it is well-researched and scholarly when it discusses Rod Serling's youth, but also provides a first-hand account of what Rod was like in his private moments. Throughout the book, Anne Serling slowly builds a sense of what a great father Rod was, so that by the time she addresses his passing, the reader is stunned not by what the television world lost when Rod died, but more by what his family lost when such a lovable father died at a young age. This book is a great resource for both fans hungry for a peek inside Rod Serling's life and for anyone who cares about the bond formed between parents and children.

Ryan

65 reviews4 followers

June 12, 2013

I love The Twlight Zone and was excited to hear about this book. You don't need to be a fan of The Twilight Zone or even to be familiar with Rod Serling or his work to enjoy it, though. While his very eventful life is covered, the book is more about the relationship his daughter had with Rod Serling. Because of this, I felt I got an understanding of the man beyond what most biographies provide (similar to Patti Smith's Just Kids and her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe). The level of intimacy Anne Serling shares is a beautiful portrayal of the father-daughter relationship. As a new first time father of a 1.5 year old girl, this was immensely valuable to me.

Dave

6 reviews

March 8, 2014

Moving and poignant. A sweet, very personal account of the Rod Serling we never saw on camera through the eyes of his loving daughter. Their relationship is so close and so well expressed here, I felt like part of the family. I laughed at his playfulness, was proud as he stood for his convictions and winced in pain at his addiction to cigarettes. Being able to see the human side of Rod after only seeing and admiring him through his work was a real treat. I delighted at Anne's glee in the closeness of her relationship with her dad, and sympathized with her as she struggled in the aftermath of his death. I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

    memoirs tv

James

260 reviews8 followers

March 13, 2021

I have been a fan of the twilight zone since I was a little kid in the 70s! When I stumbled across this I wanted to read it immediately!

A very loving, intimate and poignant look into the life of Rod Serling. I really got to know him far more than I expected. I had read some short online bios of him but nothing compares to what’s in this book.

As I read this I asked for The Twilight zone Companion by Mark Scott Zicree, (which I have wanted since the 80s) which I received on my birthday last week!

Okay, why get this? For al the inside stuff. You think you know Rod from TV? Not even close! I can’t recommend this enough if you’re a fan.!

Aaron VanAlstine

211 reviews3 followers

March 14, 2014

This would have been a poignant memoir for anyone, that it's the daughter of America’s best screenwriter of all time it makes it all the more compelling. Most people probably associate Rod Serling with The Twilight Zone, not realizing that he had already won three Emmy’s for dramatic writing before TZ and continued to win awards for his other work, such as the screenplay for Seven Days in May, until his untimely death at 50.

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling (2024)
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