Rod Serling became a TV star with the success of “The Twilight Zone,” a unique problem for Serling who always felt like he was letting viewers down when they actually got a good look at him in person.
“Now people see me on the street and they say, ‘Why, we thought you were six-foot-one’ or ‘We thought you looked like a movie actor,’ and then they look at me and say, ‘Why, God, this kid is five-foot-five and he’s got a broken nose.’ I photograph far better than I look, and that’s the problem.”
When speaking about this fame, Serling always seemed to treat it like a drag, which it most certainly was to his family members, as chronicled in “The Twilight Zone Companion.” His children would often become annoyed at their dad being recognized while they were out and about. They report that their dad was always very kind to those who recognized him, but the whole time his kids would beg him to tell his fans that they were mistaken and that he wasn’t indeed Rod Serling.
However, his close friend, a producer with the most suggestive name I’ve ever heard, Dick Berg, suggested that Mr. Serling doth protest too much and that in reality, he loved the recognition. Some of it may have been ego, but Berg thinks it was mostly that the fame meant his work was reaching people, and as a populist writer that was the most important thing to Serling. Plus, fame came with power and that power let him tell the stories he wanted to tell in the way he wanted them told, a perk that very few of his other colleagues enjoyed, no matter how celebrated.