Earl Hamner, last of THE TWILIGHT ZONE scribes, dead at 92

Earl Hamner, who penned eight episodes for the original TWILIGHT ZONE, is dead at age 92. He is perhaps better known as the creator of THE WALTONS, based on his semi-autobiographical novel, SPENCER’S MOUNTAIN, and the prime-time soap FALCON CREST, but for me, Hamner will always be a TWILIGHT ZONE writer first and foremost.

He wrote “The Hunt”, “A Piano in the House”, “Jess-Belle”, “Ring-a-Ding Girl”, “You Drive”, “Black Leather Jackets”, and (the last original episode to air, which in hindsight, seems fitting) “The Bewitchin’ Pool” for Rod Serling’s classic sci-fi series, and I will always remember watching them on warm summer evenings when all we had to keep cool were fans and open windows, and the night would sigh while I watched, billowing the curtains like the sinister backdrop of some Universal monster flick.

thehunt

Hamner was preceded in death by the show’s creator, Rod Serling (1975), and other luminaries such as Charles Beaumont (1967), Ray Bradbury (2012), Richard Matheson (2013), and George Clayton Johnson (2015), and he was the only one with whom I had any professional interaction. While I’m sure the other writers were nice people (it’s all I’ve ever heard about them), I can say from experience that Hamner really was.

When I was still shopping my first novel, LOSING TOUCH, I reached out to him for a cover blurb. While he declined, I will always treasure his response:

As Piers Anthony points out in his forward we all have to pee or defecate sometimes, but in your opening chapter to present such a graphic description of a man having a bowel movement, a difficult one at that, I found extremely off-putting. I imagine it will have the same effect on other readers. I am sorry. For your sake, I hope that I am wrong.

While the novel was mostly well-received, I respect his opinion, and I’m sure that there are those who agree with him. But no matter. I will always treasure his response and my behind-the-scenes role in bringing Hamner into THE HORROR ZINE family with his essay in A FEAST OF FRIGHTS about his legendary career in television and his short story, “Come Down to the Store, Minerva!” in SHADOW MASTERS.

Hamner was a living legend, and the last member of the original TWILIGHT ZONE writing team to pass. And now he, like Hyder Simpson in his 1962 screenplay “The Hunt”, is on his way to a square dance and maybe a coon hunt in heaven tonight. And I’m sure his dog is waiting for him.

Christian A. Larsen is the author of the novels LOSING TOUCH and THE BLACKENING OF FLESHnow available from Post Mortem Press.
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