The actor behind this eerie Twilight Zone alien was a familiar TV face

Milton Selzer played a Perry Mason client and victim, too.

There is something particularly unnerving about aliens without mouths. Doctor Who modeled its unnerving "Silence" after Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. Faceless aliens made for a creepy two-parter called "Two Fathers"/"One Son" on The X-Files in 1999.

As with many sci-fi tropes, The Twilight Zone deserves credit for kicking off and perfecting the trend. On the surface, "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby" seems like a lighthearted tale. The title sounds like a children's television show. In fact, Andy Devine, the host of a 1950s NBC kiddie series called Andy's Gang, played the main character, Frisby. Howard McNear, better known as Mayberry's Floyd the Barber, also appears in the episode. 

The fable about lying is a classic spin on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," as a fibber named Frisby finally gets his due. The episode is indeed charming — but the aliens at the end might haunt your dreams. Frisby socks one in the jaw, shattering his "human" mask, revealing the mouthless monster beneath. 

Makeup artist William Tuttle, who also came up with the striking prosthetics seen in the episodes "Eye of the Beholder" and "The Masks," was responsible for the alien seen in "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby." We consider it one of the scariest creatures ever seen on The Twilight Zone.

The mouthless mask is so iconic, you might forget the human playing that character. Milton Selzer portrayed the "Alien" of the tale. You even see his face before the reveal.

Selzer before his alien reveal in The Twilight Zone

Selzer himself, while certainly not as striking as his alien alter-ego, is perhaps just as familiar to classic television fans. The character actor popped up in various shows across five different decades, playing everyone from Mahatma Gandhi (You Are There, 1954) to MacGyver's toy-shop-owing buddy ("The Wall," 1990).

One of Selzer's steadiest gigs was that of Parker on Get Smart. As the head of the CONTROL lab, Professor Parker was the "Q" to Maxwell Smart on the silly spy series, coming up with gadgets like the cue stick shotgun.

Perry Mason defended Selzer in "The Case of the Decadent Dean" — and a year later he returned as a murder victim on Perry Mason in "The Case of the Bullied Bowler" (the rare episode with Mike Connors subbing in for Raymond Burr).

He was a captain on Wonder Woman, a judge on L.A. Law.

Oh, and he was also in that other aforementioned creepy Twilight Zone episode, "The Masks." Selzer passed away in 2006. Which of his many roles sticks out in your mind?

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GregLemieux 46 months ago
I had the pleasure of meeting Milton Selzer once – back in 1978. I had been visiting my aunt in Las Vegas and was in the airport to get my boarding pass for the return flight. My only disappointment was that I hadn’t met any celebrities in Vegas, beyond those I’d seen in shows. And then suddenly, standing right in front of me was Milton Selzer. He was at the ticket counter and obviously someone at the airline had messed up his reservation and was apologizing for it. I knew the last thing he needed was to be interrupted while he was getting this settled, so I stayed back quietly.

The person at the counter laid out the options on how to correct the situation. After hearing the last one, Milton asked politely, “That would be the most practical, then?” The clerk agreed. With a friendly smile, Milton said, “I guess that’s what we’ll do then.” The counter person then went off to take care of the paperwork. Only then did I step forward.
“Are you Milton Selzer?” I asked.
“Yes, I am.” He replied.
“I’ve seen you on a lot of shows. I enjoy your work,” I told him.
“Well, thank you very much,” he responded.

Then the counter person came back and Milton went off to catch his flight. I never thought to ask to take his picture or get his autograph, but considering the circumstances I wouldn’t have wanted to bother him anyway.

What I did take from the encounter was that clearly the airline had made a mistake and was apologizing for the error. Milton had taken it in stride, seeing that the man was trying to fix the situation as best he could, and never once criticized him or complained about the situation. In short, he was a good guy. I hope having a brief acknowledgment from a fan had brightened his day as well as meeting him had brightened mine. Some years later, I relayed the encounter to someone else. She had known him when he was in Hawaii, and said she had the same impression of him that I did.

As to favorite roles, I enjoyed his half a dozen episodes of HAWAII FIVE-O. I think his strongest performance was in the episode “Percentage.” But I always loved his nervous character in “While You’re at it, Bring in the Moon,” where he was so jumpy that when they tried to give him a polygraph test, the needle went all over the place no matter what he said. After I met him, I remembered seeing him in the pilot movie for SWORD OF JUSTICE and playing a poltergeist expert in an episode of LOU GRANT as well as some episodes of L.A. LAW. He was quite a delightful actor.
MarkSpeck 47 months ago
I just purchased the entire set of the 1972 series Search from Amazon. Lo and behold, there's good old Milton Selzer in the second episode as one of the villains!

He was one of the more frequent Hawaii Five-O guests as well, with six appearances to his name, going way back to the very second episode in 1968 all the way to 1978.
owls82 47 months ago
A couple of appearances on The F.B.I. come to mind.
RobertK 48 months ago
I believe that he also had a few appearances as a German Sergeant and Officer in Hogan's Heroes and I remember him as a Principle at Emily's school in The Bob Newhart Show in the "70's. Very familiar actor...
Dreadnought RobertK 48 months ago
You're spot on, Robert. He played Sgt. Franks in my all time favorite episode of HH. I know he was in at least one other episode where he played a civilian arms maker whose factory is blown up.
BrittReid 48 months ago
I remember him in The Wild Wild West episode 'The Night Of The Death Masks'.
cperrynaples BrittReid 48 months ago
He couldn't get away from masks, could he...LOL!
WordsmithWorks 48 months ago
Definitely one of those "I know that guy" actors.
UTZAAKE WordsmithWorks 48 months ago
Milton Selzer was ubiquitous.
cperrynaples 48 months ago
Certainly you can't forget "The Masks" as he is one of 4 characters whose faces are changed by a vindictive dying patriarch!
Wiseguy cperrynaples 48 months ago
They didn't forget. Read the whole article.
cperrynaples Wiseguy 48 months ago
Of course I knew that, I was saying that his work in THAT episode was MUCH better then that silly show! BTW, he was on Gunsmoke today!
Inrodwetrust cperrynaples 47 months ago
Are you calling the twilight zone silly? Blasphemy I say!
cperrynaples Inrodwetrust 47 months ago
Not the entire series, just the Andy Devine episode! I love TZ!
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