Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Rod Serling: Six Feet Under

Interlaken, New York is a quiet farming community cut off from the modern world.  The Amish call it home, as evidenced by the horse-drawn buggies you'll pass as you traverse its main roads.  Local businesses are few and far between, but they do offer a number of wineries, perfect for a Sunday afternoon in the country.  Stop by Lucas Vineyards while you're there, and ask for a sample of the Tugboat Red.  Interlaken is also home to Lake View Cemetery, where you'll find one of the most iconic figures in pop culture history.

Rod Serling, known to multiple generations as the host, creator and producer of The Twilight Zone, was only 50 years old when he suffered two back-to-back heart attacks in the spring of 1975.  In an attempt to save his life, his doctors recommended open-heart surgery, but cautioned Serling that it too was a risky endeavor. Serling went ahead with the procedure.  While on the table, he suffered his third and final heart attack, which ultimately took his life on June 28, 1975. 

Serling was interred at Lake View, some 70 miles from his home town of Binghamton, on July 2.  A combat veteran of World War 2, he received full military

It seems a far cry from Hollywood, where Serling left his mark as a screenwriter, playwright and television producer.  The cemetery itself is in disrepair, and volunteers are always encouraged to come forward and help with general maintenance.  Lawn care assistance is greatly appreciated, and cash donations are always welcomed.

All this however, does not keep the faithful away.  Serling's grave was by far the most decorated one that our Six Feet Under staff saw on this day, appropriately enough over Memorial Day Weekend.

Location: Lake View Cemetery, Interlaken, New York
Plot: Lot G, 1044
Finding this grave isn't particularly difficult.  Enter through the main gate and head down the sloping hill.  At the bottom, look to your left for the sign for Lot G.  Park your car and make your way on foot towards the center, where you'll spot a large tree, near the foot of which you'll find Serling.

In 1982, Hollywood decided to re-visit The Twilight Zone, with disastrous results.  Three actors were killed during the production.  The film was also notable for the appearance of Serling's widow Carol as a frightened airline passenger during the segment "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."  She passed in 2020 and is buried next to her husband.

Visitors to the grave often leave gifts and other mementos to Serling and the show, such as the hand-painted rock depicting the title sequence shown above.  The rock on the right paraphrases actor Jonathan Winters, appearing in the classic episode "A Game of Pool" as James L. "Fats" Brown," Heaven's greatest billiards player.

It's no secret that Serling was an avid smoker, as you'd often see him holding a cigarette as he set up the evening's tale.  Lost to history however, were the cigarette spots he did at the end of each episode, during their original run on CBS.  Watch one of them here.  And please kids, don't smoke.


  1. Such an unassuming and humble little grave marker. Serling was such a pioneer and all-around important human being, it's hard not to think that he should have something bigger and more "impressive" looking. But that just wouldn't be him. He wasn't a loud man, endlessly bragging about his accomplishments. On the contrary, he downplayed the significance of what he himself wrote. So a humble gravestone for an exceedingly humble man. There's something appropriate and poetic about that.