Rod Serling was born on December 25, 1924 in Syracuse, New York, but raised in Binghamton. After graduating from Binghamton High School, he decided to join the US Army to fight in World War 2.
In the Army, he served as a paratrooper and also specialized in demolition. His unit, the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, served in the Pacific from 1943 to the end of the war in 1946. During combat, he received wounds in his wrist and knee and was subsequently awarded the purple heart and bronze star for bravery in combat. During his free time in the Army, he participated in boxing matches.
After the war, Rod returned home, but continued to suffer flashbacks for the rest of his life. He decided to study literature at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. During school, he won a prize in a writing contest for the popular radio show "Dr. Christian". In 1948 he also married his wife, Carol.
After graduating in 1950 with his Bachelor's degree, Rod moved to Cincinnati, where he got a job writing for WLW Radio. In 1951, he started writing scripts for television shows such as Hallmark Hall of Fame and Kraft Television Theater. By 1955, over 70 of his scripts had been used to make shows. His most popular script, "Patterns" was a huge hit and increased demand for his work.
However, Rod was tired of seeing his scripts mercilessly edited by producers. He decided to start his own television series and found CBS as a home for it. The show was called "The Twilight Zone" and the first episode aired in 1959. For the show, he hired other famous writers such as Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont.
The show was a smash hit and kept viewers hypnotized weekly with its deep science fiction stories. It ran for five seasons and garnered much praise from critics and viewers alike. In 1964, the show was finally canceled and an exhausted Serling sold the rights to show to CBS. However, he would later find out that selling the show was a huge mistake.
That same year, he wrote a screenplay about a fictional military coup which was transformed into 1964's "Seven Days in May". He also wrote screenplays for 1968's "Planet of the Apes" and 1972's "The Man".
In 1969, Rod wrote a script for a new show called "Night Gallery" for NBC. The pilot aired that same year and the show started in late 1970. Whereas "The Twilight Zone" had focused on science fiction, this show focused on horror. He continued to write about a third of the scripts for the show, but quit in 1973 as more of his scripts were rejected by the producers.
Along with writing scripts for his television shows, Serling also penned several short stories and small novels. He seemed to prefer watching his ideas turn into movies, however, and he did not actively pursue fiction writing.
In 1975, Serling had two heart attacks and had to undergo bypass surgery. Unfortunately, he suffered a third heart attack during the operation and died the next day, June 28, 1975.