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With Christmas coming up, here are 11 facts about Twilight Zone‘s terrific holiday special ‘The Night of the Meek.’
1. Though Twilight Zone had many guest writers throughout the years, Rod Serling wrote ‘The Night of the Meek.’
2. Episode director Jack Smight also directed the film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic The Illustrated Man as well as several episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
3. Art Carney, who plays the episode’s hero Henry Corwin, was also in several other prominent Christmas specials including Christmas in Disneyland, The Night They Saved Christmas, The Great Santa Claus Switch, and the now infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.
4. Back in 2002, Frederick Freyer and Patrick Cook presented work from their stage musical adaptation of The Night of the Meek at the Manhattan Theatre Club as part of a larger showcase of new stage works. The showcase also included work from the upcoming musical Avenue Q by Bobby Lopez, who went on to write music for The Book of Mormon and Frozen.
5. The episode’s title ‘The Night of the Meek’ is taken from the Bible verse Matthew 5:5, which reads, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5 also blesses the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, those who are pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness. In the episode, Corwin as Santa Claus helps many people, including a group of homeless men, and Corwin himself is blessed because he has the opportunity to give to others.
6. When Henry Corwin is still employed as Santa Claus, the first boy to sit on his lap asks for a new first name. The boy’s name is Percival Smithers.
7. To cut costs for the season, ‘The Night of the Meek’ was filmed on video tape before being transferred to 16 mm film.
8. John Fiedler, who plays Mr. Dundee, was the original voice of Piglet in Disney’s adaptations of Winnie the Pooh, including Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.
9. The same year that ‘The Night of the Meek’ aired, Val Avery, who plays the Bartender, also appeared in the iconic Western The Magnificent Seven.
10. The 80s reboot of The Twilight Zone remade ‘The Night of the Meek,’ and Empty Nest’s Richard Mulligan was cast in the role of Henry Corwin. The episode was directed by Martha Coolidge (Real Genius) and Ryszard Bugajski (Interrogation), and Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape) is credited for adapting Rod Serling’s script.
11. The final line of the episode is, “A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas, and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek.”