The Twilight Zone eerily predicted the death of its most frequent actor

Jay Overholts was in two episodes involving vehicular death… and died in a similar fashion a few years later.

The Twilight Zone certainly had its favorite guest stars. Burgess Meredith and Jack Klugman both headlined four memorable episodes. But those two TV legends do not hold the record for appearances in the Fifth Dimension. No, that honor goes to a relatively unknown performer. His name was Jay Overholts. 

Ohio native Overholts pops up – in some form — in eight different episodes from the original series. He's there in the very beginning, in the first episode, playing a reporter in "Where Is Everybody?" He's a passenger on "The Odyssey of Flight 33" and a cowboy in "Showdown with Rance McGrew." His voice alone can be heard in both "Twenty Two" and "Static." He must have been a pal of Rod Serling, as Overholts also found work in other screenplays by the writer, including installments of a local Cincinnati series from early '50s called The Storm, as well as the CBS anthology series Playhouse 90.

But we are going to focus on two particular Twilight Zone episodes featuring the familiar face — "A Thing About Machines" and "The Jungle."

The former must have made quite a mark on Stephen King, because the killer-car plot is quite similar to his Christine. At the end of the story, after the protagonist, Bartlett Finchley (Richard Haydn) has been run down by the vicious vehicle, a police officer and EMT ponder the death of the poor victim. Overholts plays the ambulance man, as seen above on the right.

"The Jungle," a season later, featured a man under the hex of a curse. At one point, the bewitched fellow (John Dehner) discovers that his taxi driver (Overholts) is dead. The image of Overholts slumped over in the front seat takes on an even eerier air when you learn what happened to the actor.

In 1966, the 42-year-old was killed in a head-on collision. The accident occurred "in Los Angeles, when [Overholts was] hit head-on by another driver in 1966. The other driver was charged with vehicular homicide." That little anecdote comes from an old fansite cataloging the many untimely deaths surrounding the sci-fi suspense series. In total, 18 actors from the series perished from untimely deaths.

Now, such statistics can likely be pulled from any anthology series with such a sprawling cast. But the nature of the series gives it all a much bone-chilling air, no?

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Pacificsun 27 months ago
Twilight Zone was actually an anthology, the equivalent of short stories as compared to novels in print. Short stories are compact and succinct, every sentence counts, and always having a "twist" at the end, Just to increase the imaginative (sometimes eerie) effect can be set in another time, not necessarily only the "future," and wasn't dependent on doing so. Although the episodes which did, seem to be the most memorable, like "To Serve Man" etc..

Serling's point was more about the "unexplained" (primarily focusing on human nature) and not the same as science fiction as an action/fantasy/adventure, dependent on gimmicks.

One Step Beyond would be a good addition to the lineup, especially among the Sat Sci Fi line-up. But Outer Limits even better, which took scary to the max, with its basic plots, ramped up! And would be perfect after Svengoolie for a lot of viewers!

I hope MeTV Plus will fill that evening/early morning with some really premium shows!
tootsieg 27 months ago
Always loved TZ but the music scared me.
Mukusthebadd1 41 months ago
In 1966, the 42-year-old was killed in a head-on collision. The accident occurred "in Los Angeles, when [Overholts was] hit head-on by another driver in 1966.
Really editors? Like DUH!
remodel18 Mukusthebadd1 21 months ago
I thought the same thing. Real genius to write that.
WhiteRook 41 months ago
Actor Vic Morrow and 2 child actors perished while filming The Twilight Zone Movie. Also Rod Serling himself suffered a fatal heart attack at a relatively young age.
Faloom 41 months ago
I love The Twilight Zone,.. but I wish METV would include “One Step Beyond” into their lineup as well,..
Hogansucks1 41 months ago
Chilling outcome of this actor!! Fate? Perhaps carma?? Some other force at work- weird !!! Also interesting subject on the quantum theoretical discussions/ dimensions & parallel universes. Life IS strange at times!!!! 🧐 😊
Wiseguy Hogansucks1 41 months ago
It's called coincidence.
Hogansucks1 Wiseguy 41 months ago
Yes & No- wise guy ! 🤔 🤓
Pacificsun Wiseguy 27 months ago
Or else, the desperate need to explain every_thing.
HulkFan02 41 months ago
I love that series
However very sad thou
Dario 41 months ago
Man, talk about your bad luck! 😣🙁
Andybandit 41 months ago
Good story, I never really liked the twilight zone.
Dario Andybandit 41 months ago
I'm not a fan of it, either, but there are a few episodes that I've enjoyed from the series when I've watched it on occasion.
MrsGuthrie Andybandit 41 months ago
I will have to agree to disagree with you on this one. I was hooked as a kid whenever I happened to catch an episode on late weekend nights when I was allowed to stay up late. That was in 1980 something (a nod to The Goldbergs) and I still love the series. Though now I miss the thrill of a new story.
Stoney 41 months ago
I remember reading somewhere that Rod Serling and Jay Overholts were close friends, dating back to childhood. It would certainly explain the frequency of Overholts' appearances in "Twilight Zone" and other Serling productions.
Moody Stoney 41 months ago
That's possible I suppose. Overholts was born in Cincinnati & Rod Serling was born in Syracuse, NY but grew up in Binghamton. I can't find any info on where Overholts actually grew up or went to school. There isn't much info at all about him on the internet.
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