I was fortunate to hear and see Rod Serling in person when he gave a lecture at Georgia State University. I can’t remember the exact date, but there are some things I’ll never forget. One, how short he was (he was only 5’4” I think). I had heard or read about that earlier, but really wasn’t prepared for seeing him in the flesh.
Before the lecture began, a man came out from the curtains and carried a box that he placed behind the lecture. We all wondered why at first, but when Serling came out on the stage (to a big round of applause) and walked over to the lecture, he had to stand on the box in order to reach the microphones. They only had a big wooden lectern, so the mike could not be lowered, but it was just as well. Since you couldn’t see his legs, it gave the illusion that he was of average height.
However, when he started speaking all that didn’t matter. The Voice! The voice that still to this day sends a thrill through me. You knew this was Rod Serling, and I was enthralled with it. So enthralled that I can’t to this day remember what he actually talked about in his lecture. I guess I was thinking I was in The Twilight Zone hearing him so close.
The one thing I do remember came at the end when he held a Q&A session. One student asked, “Do you believe there’s life on other planets?” He smiled. “Absolutely, and they’re filming us and sending it back to their home planet as a soap opera.” He laughed. “And it’s a big hit.”