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The Twilight Zone: Once Upon a Time

A janitor from the 19th century is transported 70 years into the future after trying on his bosses' time machine helmet.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 3x13
Production Number: 4820
Airdate: Friday December 15th, 1961

Guest Stars
Buster KeatonBuster Keaton
As Woodrow Mulligan

Co-Guest Stars
Stanley AdamsStanley Adams
As Rollo
James FlavinJames Flavin
As First 1962 Policeman
Jesse WhiteJesse White
As Repairman
Gil LambGil Lamb
As Officer Flannagan

Harry FleerHarry Fleer
As Second 1962 Policeman
Milton ParsonsMilton Parsons
As Professor Gilbert
George E. StoneGeorge E. Stone
As Fenwick
Warren ParkerWarren Parker
As Clothing Store Manager
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


In the year 1890, janitor Woodroy Mulligan is walking down the streets of Harmony, New York, and bemoans noise pollution, high prices, and women's independence. Mulligan is knocked into a water trough by a bicyclist. Going home to change, Mulligan sees his employer Professor Gilbert working on a Time Helmet that lets you travel to any time period but for only thirty minutes. He leaves it on the table and Mulligan decides it to go to a future where there's peace and quiet. He sets the helmet for 1960 and it starts to spark and smoke. Mulligan runs outside and a police officer chases after him. Mulligan grabs a chicken and then there's a burst of smoke and Mulligan finds himself in 1960 in the middle of a busy street on Harmony. Everything makes noise and the prices are dozens of times higher...

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Episode Notes
Buster Keaton was the uncredited writer of the episode. Many of the sight gags were taken directly from his silent films. Episode was part of the rebirth of Keaton's popularity.

This episode of The Twilight Zone has no spoken dialog at the beginning.

Jesse White, who played the "fix-it man", would later be well-known as the Maytag repairman.

Half of the episode was made to be just like an old silent movie, Buster Keaton's forte'.

An extended sequence in Jack's Fix-It Shop was directed by Les Goodwins over a month after production of the episode had ended.

Harry Fleer is also in "The Obsolete Man."

James Flavin was also in "A Passage for Trumpet."

Jesse White is also in "Cavender is Coming."

Milton Parsons was also in "I Dream of Genie" and "The New Exhibit."

Stanley Adams is also in "Mr. Garrity and the Graves."

The clothes ringer seen in this episode is the same kind which caused a 3-year old Buster Keaton to lose part of a finger by getting it caught inside the rollers. As a joke, Buster sticks the same finger inside in the roller during filming.

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Mr. Mulligan, a rather dour critic of his times, is shortly to discover the import of that old phrase, 'Out of the frying pan, into the fire,' said fire burning brightly at all times in the Twilight Zone.

Rollo: You don't understand. This man must get back to 1890.
Repairman: Well, you're in the wrong block. This is only 1600.

Closing Narration
'To each his own' - so goes another old phrase to which Mr. Woodrow Mulligan would heartily subscribe, for he has learned, definitely the hard way, that there is much wisdom in a third old phrase which goes as follows: 'Stay in your own backyard.' To which it might be added, 'and if possible, assist others to stay in theirs' - via, of course, the Twilight Zone.

Episode Goofs
Les Goodwins was not credited for his effort in this episode.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorJason H. Bernie
CastingJames Lister (2)  |  Lynn Stalmaster
MusicWilliam Lava  |  Ray Turner
Set DecoratorHenry Grace  |  H. Web Arrowsmith
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
SoundWilliam Edmondson
Assistant DirectorE. Darrell Hallenbeck
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