10 Best Oscar Nominated Actors Who Appeared on ‘The Twilight Zone’


Rod Serling‘s The Twilight Zone was a pivotal series that revitalized the science-fiction genre with now-iconic episodes such as ‘Time Enough at Last,’ ‘Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?’ and ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.’ The show originally aired in 1959, running for five seasons, and is considered to be one of the greatest television series of all time. While the show features incredible, thought-provoking writing from Serling and others, The Twilight Zone owes much of its success to the string of stars who appeared throughout the series.

From established performers like Ida Lupino and John Carradine to up-and-comers such as William Shatner and Ron Howard, The Twilight Zone is full of notable shining stars, some of whom even earned recognition from the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science. Out of the dozens of prolific players, including Agnes Moorehead, Burgess Meredith, and Robert Redford, these are the 10 best Oscar-nominated stars who appeared in The Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone (1959)

Release Date
October 2, 1959

Rod Serling , Jack Klugman , Burgess Meredith , John Anderson

Main Genre

Sci-Fi , Drama , Fantasy , Horror



Rod Serling

10 Lee Marvin

Nominated for ‘Cat Ballou’

Lee Marvin leaning against a bar looking at someone in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Lee Marvin was an iconic supporting player of Hollywood’s Golden Age who starred in dozens of classic films, most notably John Ford‘s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Dirty Dozen. Despite his countless epic performances, Marvin only ever received one Academy Award nomination, which he ended up winning for the 1965 Western Cat Ballou. While Marvin had a decent number of movie roles rolling in for him, he didn’t pass up the opportunity to star in The Twilight Zone‘s season 3, episode, ‘The Grave.’

‘The Grave’ is a Western ghost story that follows Marvin as lawman Conny Miller who visits the grave of an outlaw who he failed to track down. To prove he isn’t afraid of the dead man, he agrees to visit his grave site and plant a knife in the dirt as proof, but as he drives the blade into the ground, he gets a shocking surprise that could only ever be explained in The Twilight Zone.

Lee Marvin’s Roles



Paint Your Wagon

Ben Rumson

Donovan’s Reef

Thomas “Boats” Gilhooley

The Big Heat

Vince Stone

9 Ed Wynn

Nominated for ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’

Ed Wynn sitting on a stoop talking to several children sitting around him in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Character actor and comedian, Ed Wynn, is best known for his roles in Disney films, such as Babes in Toyland and Alice in Wonderland, but the vaudeville clown was also an exceptional dramatic performer who appeared in several classic films later in his career. Wynn received his one and only Academy Award nomination for his captivating performance in George Stevens‘ 1959 film, The Diary of Anne Frank, but despite the loss, Wynn continued taking on more serious roles, including two episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Wynn starred in season 1, episode 2, One for the Angels’ as Lewis J. Boomman, who is visited by Mr. Death (Murray Hamilton) and ultimately sacrifices himself to save a neighborhood girl from the morbid visitor. Serling, who was a long-time admirer of Wynn, had specifically written the episode for the actor. In 1963, Wynn returned to the fifth dimension in season 5, episode 12, ‘Ninety Years Without Slumbering,’ as an elderly man, Sam Frostmann, who believes that his life is connected to an old grandfather clock.

Ed Wynn’s Roles



Alice in Wonderland

Mad Hatter

Mary Poppins

Uncle Albert

Marjorie Morningstar

Uncle Samson

8 Dennis Hopper

Nominated for ‘Easy Rider,’ ‘Hoosiers’

Dennis Hopper looking away in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Actor and director, Dennis Hopper, made his television debut in 1954 before appearing in notable classics, including Rebel Without a Cause and The Sons of Katie Elder. Shortly after his string of successful on-screen performances, Hopper made his directorial debut with the 1969 film, Easy Rider, co-starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Easy Rider earned Hopper his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which he co-wrote with Fonda and Terry Southern. In 1986, Hopper received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the underdog film, Hoosiers.

In 1963, Hopper appeared in The Twilight Zone‘s season 4, episode 4, ‘He’s Alive,’ as a young American neo-Nazi who is visited by the ghost of Adolf Hitler. The episode was written by Serling, who also wrote a longer version of the teleplay to be produced for a feature film, but it never got off the ground. Despite the controversial character, Hopper’s performance is considered to be one of his breakthrough performances.

Dennis Hopper’s Roles



Blue Velvet

Frank Booth


Howard Payne

True Grit


7 Burgess Meredith

Nominated for ‘The Day of the Locust,’ ‘Rocky’

Burgess Meredith sitting on steps surrounded by stacks of books in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Burgess Meredith is typically recognized for his role as Sylvester Stallone‘s trainer, Mickey, in the Rocky films and for portraying the Penguin in the original Batman series. While they are some of his most iconic roles, they are only a small fraction of the work and talent of Meredith who, throughout his six-decade career, won several Emmy Awards, earned two Oscar nominations, and was the first male actor to win the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor twice.

Meredith was a frequent visitor to the Fifth Dimension, starring in four episodes throughout the show’s run. He made his first appearance in one of the show’s most iconic episodes in season 1, episode 8, ‘Time Enough At Last,’ starring as a bookworm, Henry Bemis, who miraculously survives an atomic bomb, but soon learns there’s a catch to his infinite amount of reading time. Meredith also starred in season 2, episode 19, ‘Mr. Dingle, the Strong,’ episode 29, ‘The Obsolete Man’ and season 4, episode 9, ‘Printer’s Devil.’

Burgess Meredith’s Roles



Clash of the Titans


Of Mice and Men

George Milton

In Harm’s Way

Commander Egan Powell

6 Art Carney

Nominated for ‘Harry and Tonto’

Art Carney dressed as Santa Claus standing with arms open in front of a woman in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Actor and comedian, Art Carney, initially started his career on the radio before moving into television and is best known for his role as Ed Norton on the classic sitcom, The Honeymooners. During his time on The Honeymooners, Carney earned seven Primetime Emmy nominations, winning six of them, and continued to appear on popular comedy and game shows throughout the 1950s. In 1974, Carney received his first and only Academy Award win for his performance in the road trip film, Harry and Tonto, beating box office stars like Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman.

Before his Oscar win, Carney went against his usual comedic roles and took a dramatic turn starring in The Twilight Zone‘s season 2, episode 11, ‘The Night of the Meek.’ Carney stars as an alcoholic department store Santa Claus, Henry Corwin, who eventually becomes the real Saint Nick. ‘The Night of the Meek’ is one of the series’ episodes that explores the wonder and spirit of Christmas, serving as an important reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season.

Art Carney’s Roles



Going in Style


Last Action Hero



Irv Manders

5 Robert Redford

Nominated for ‘The Sting’

Robert Redford as Beldon/Death in the
Image via CBS 

Actor and filmmaker, Robert Redford, started his career on both the stage and television, appearing in popular series including Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Redford initially gained notoriety with films such as Barefoot in the Park and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and by the 1970s, he had become one of Hollywood’s most popular male leads. He received his first and only Academy Award nomination in an acting category for his performance in the classic caper film, The Sting. In 1980, he made his directorial debut with Ordinary People, which earned him the Oscar for Best Director.

Before becoming one of the most influential stars of the New Hollywood Movement, Redford starred in The Twilight Zone‘s season 3, episode 16, ‘Nothing in the Dark.’ The episode stars Gladys Cooper as an elderly recluse woman who is reluctant to let Redford, who claims to be an injured police officer, into her home, afraid that it might be Death knocking at her door. While Cooper is the main focus of the episode, Redford gives a touching performance that adds a gentle sentiment to a scary and unknown experience that everyone must face at some point.

Robert Redford’s Roles



The Natural

Roy Hobbs

All the President’s Men

Bob Woodward

The Way We Were

Hubbell Gardiner

4 Agnes Moorehead

Nominated for ‘The Magnificent Ambersons,’ ‘Mrs. Parkington,’ ‘Johnny Belinda’

Agnes Moorehead sitting on the floor looking up in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Agnes Moorehead was a successful stage star and member of Orson Welles‘ Mercury Theatre who is best known for her role as Andora in the classic sitcom, Bewitched. Before playing Elizabeth Montgomery‘s mischievous mother, Moorehead appeared in dozens of classic movies, including Citizen Kane, Dark Passage, and Magnificent Obsession. In 1943, she earned her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her gripping performance in The Magnificent Ambersons, and throughout her extensive career, earned a total of four Oscar nominations.

Moorehead gives an impressive show-stopping performance in The Twilight Zone‘s season 2, episode 15, ‘The Invaders,’ which features zero dialogue and co-stars. Moorehead stars as an unnamed woman who discovers that her home has been invaded by miniature beings from another planet. With literally nothing and no one to go off of, the episode brilliantly showcases Moorehead’s incredible talent that solidified her as one of the greatest actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Agnes Moorehead’s Roles



Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Velma Cruthers

Raintree County

Ellen Shawnessy

All That Heaven Allows

Sara Warren

3 Mickey Rooney

‘Babes in Arms,’ ‘The Human Comedy,’ ‘The Bold and the Brave’

Mickey Rooney talking on the phone in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Mickey Rooney was a character actor who successfully transitioned from the Silent Era into the Talkies, becoming one of the biggest box office attractions during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Rooney earned recognition for his recurring role as Andy Hardy and starring in several popular musicals with Judy Garland, including Babes in Arms, which earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. With a career spanning nearly nine decades, Rooney received his final Academy Award nomination for his performance in the 1979 film, The Black Stallion.

The Twilight Zone‘s season 5, episode 5, ‘The Last Night of the Jockey,’ features Rooney as a former horse jockey, Michael Grady, who has recently been banned from the sport for fixing races. As he struggles with his unfortunate fate, he wishes to become a giant in his profession, which, like any episode in The Twilight Zone, comes with an unexpected twist that derails his entire plan for a comeback. While Rooney only appeared in one episode of The Twilight Zone, he had previously starred in two dramas written by Serling for the series, Playhouse 90.

Mickey Rooney’s Roles



National Velvet

Mi Taylor

Requiem for a Heavyweight


It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World

Ding Bell

2 Gladys Cooper

‘Now, Voyager,’ ‘The Song of Bernadette,’ ‘My Fair Lady’

Gladys Cooper with a blank look on her face in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

As a teenager, Gladys Cooper appeared in a series of dramatic roles on both the stage and in silent films, gaining prominence in London’s West End and Broadway productions. In 1940, Cooper moved to Hollywood, where she was typically cast as either a critical society aristocrat or a lively, kind supporting player. In 1943, she received her first Academy Award nomination for her performance as Bette Davis‘ domineering mother in Now, Voyager, and the following year, she earned her second nomination for The Song of Bernadette.

By the 1950s, Cooper had started guest starring on popular television series and starred in three episodes of The Twilight Zone. She made her first appearance in season 3, episode 16, ‘Nothing in the Dark,’ and returned the following season appearing in episode 17, ‘Passage on the Lady Anne.’ While both episodes are notable, her third and final appearance in season 5, episode 9, ‘Night Call,’ as a lonely elderly woman, Elva Keene, brilliantly demonstrates Cooper’s incredible range and craft.

Gladys Cooper’s Roles



The Bishop’s Wife

Mrs. Hamilton

That Hamilton Woman

Lady Frances Nelson

Mr. Lucky

Captain Veronica Steadman

1 Robert Duvall

‘The Godfather,’ ‘Apocalypse Now,’ ‘The Great Santini’

Robert Duvall standing in front of a doll house in The Twilight Zone
Image via CBS

Robert Duvall is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars who began his career on stage before making his television debut on the series Armstrong Circle Theater in 1959. Three years later, he made his feature debut as Boo Radley in the classic film, To Kill a Mockingbird, and continued to earn supporting roles in notable films including True Grit, The Rain People and Bullit. Duvall’s performance in Francis Ford Coppola‘s masterpiece, The Godfather, earned him critical attention as well as his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Throughout his career, Duvall has received six Oscar nominations and, in 1984, he won Best Actor for the Western film, Tender Mercies.

Duvall starred in The Twilight Zone‘s season 4, episode 8, ‘Miniature,’ as a shy, young man, Charley Parkes, who spends his time visiting a museum dollhouse that only comes alive for him. Similar to his role as Boo Radley, Duvall portrays a vulnerable, gentle character who fails to connect with the outside world and, compared to other episodes, ‘Miniature’ is one of few that ends on a rather happy note in the Fifth Dimension.

Robert Duvall’s Roles



Tender Mercies

Mac Sledge

Open Range

Boss Spearman

The Apostle

The Apostle E.F.

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