The Twilight Zone is more than a hit “sci-fi” television show and series of programs. It’s a BRAND
The 1959-1964 TV show was created and written by Rod Serling (along with numerous SPECIAL guest writers, including science fiction icon Ray Bradbury and Earl Hamner Jr., creator of The Waltons).
From the very first episode, The Time Element, The Twilight Zone was a huge popular (and critical) success.
A slew of Hollywood’s elite made appearances on the CBS series, many early in their budding careers: Lee Marvin, William Shatner, Telly Savalas, Carol Burnett, Burt Reynolds, Shelly Fabares, Robert Redford, Elizabeth Montgomery, and dozens more.
The success and longevity of the original series of over 150 episodes led to two CBS revivals of the show in the 1980s and 90s, and a third revival by the once CBS-owned UPN (which shut down in 2006), a 1986 movie by the same name (produced by Steven Spielberg), comic books, radio shows, theatre productions, a pinball machine, a theme park ride at Disney/MGM (Orlando), and who knows how many millions of “Zone-theme” house parties. Rod Serling, who died in 1975, must have been proud and amazed at his impact on popular culture.
Who Wrote the Twilight Zone Theme Song?
But for all that Serling did do to create a world-wide fandom for The Twilight Zone, there’s one thing he didn’t do: he didn’t write the memorable “nee nee nee nee” theme, perhaps the most recognizable TV theme song in history.
That was written by Marius Constant. although there is some confusion about this matter.
You will find “The Twilight Zone Theme Song” credited in many publications to Bernard Herrman. And that is true according to many sources, including Wikipedia: “From the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, Herrmann scored a series of notable mythically-themed fantasy films, including Journey to the Center of the Earth…During the same period, Herrmann turned his talents to writing scores for television shows. Perhaps most notably, he wrote the scores for several well-known episodes of the original Twilight Zone series, including the lesser known theme used during the series’ first season, as well as the theme to Have Gun—Will Travel.”
Herrmann also scored Alred Hitchcock’s infamous Psycho, as well as Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds radio program and movie classic Citizen Kane.
Regarding the confusion over whether Bernard Herrmann or Marius Constant wrote the famous “nee nee nee nee” theme, “[Herrmann’s original theme] is not the signature theme that we immediately associate The Twilight Zone with, that theme would come from the uncredited French composer Marius Constant, for the show’s second season. Interestingly, according to the insightful liner-notes [on the Twilight Zone 40th Anniversay Collection], Herrmann composed and recorded themes for the second season as well [as the fist season], but [they] were rejected in favor of Constant’s work!…That mesmerizing four-note theme? That’s the work of Marcus [sic] Constant….” —Christopher Coleman
The Twilight Zone and Surrealism
“Compelling for totally different reasons is television’s great contribution to Surrealism: The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling, who created The Twilight Zone and wrote and directed the majority of episodes, was avowedly influenced by the Surrealists. Yet in the process of adapting the Surrealist pursuit of paradox for TV, he managed to disburden Surrealism of its gravest problems, and to realize the potential that eluded the Surrealist poets and painters: Serling’s midcentury American TV series was free of André Breton’s oracular inscrutability and Salvador Dalí’s academic aesthetics.” — Forbes