‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ Airs on ‘The Twilight Zone’
The 1962 short French film, La Rivière du hibou (The Owl River) was based on the American short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce. The film won awards at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards. Two years later, producer William Froug, paid $25,000 to air it as part of The Twilight Zone TV show which aired on this day in 1964. Purchasing the story and re-editing the beginning and ending with Rod Serling giving a narration was significantly cheaper than the show’s regular episodes. However, there was a catch. The rights were given for only two airings, so it became a “missing episode” years later when The Twilight Zone went into syndication. The story involved a prisoner who was to be hanged on the bridge. Just as the man is to be hanged, the rope comes undone as the man falls and makes a clean getaway only to wake up realizing that his escape was just a dream and he dies from being hanged for real. The story was The Twilight Zone’s last episode to be produced but was not the last episode to air on TV.
Final Episode of M*A*S*H Airs
After 11 seasons on the air, the CBS drama/comedy M*A*S*H took its last bow on this day in 1983. It was watched by 77% of the television viewing audience and was the largest percentage ever to watch a single TV show up to that time. That’s a far cry from the ratings of the show’s first season in 1972 where the show was under threat of cancellation due to low ratings. Based on the 1968 novel by Richard Hooker and the 1970 Robert Altman film, the show lasted almost as long as the Vietnam war that the show was centered around. The show was unique in that it was half drama, half comedy and has become one of the most syndicated shows in history. Not knowing when to quit while they were ahead, CBS launched the spinoff AfterMASH which surprisingly stayed on the air for two seasons from 1983-1985.