A Tale of a Pair of Shoes-The Twilight Zone

Dead Man’s Shoes” Written by Charles Beaumont. Directed by Montgomery Pittman. Aired Jan, 19, 1962

Props needed…”Shoes”…

What You Need“-Written by Rod Serling. Director Alvin Ganzer. Based off “What you Need ” by Lewis Padgett…”What happens next-I put these on- right- they take me somewhere?”

Now What old Man!”

“Nathan Edward Bledsoe of the Bowery Bledsoes, a man once, a specter now. One of those myriad modern-day ghosts that haunt the reeking nights of the city in search of a flop, a handout, a glass of forgetfulness. Nate doesn’t know it but his search is about to end, because those shiny new shoes are going to carry him right into the capital of The Twilight Zone”

A picture of mine-Looking down from across the way. This is where Rod introduces the opening narrative involving Edward Bledsoe and those shiny shoes…

Just going for a drive with the boys- no there’s nothing in the trunk”…Rod’s intro done on stairway behind car.

One of the three passageways into this secluded area…

Entrance to alley from Eastside Street.

This building is being knocked down by bulldozers…This was same alley Limo turns in.

Time to get up and stretch my legs”

This was one of my very favorite spots-center of New York City. Three entrances combine under this stairway.

Might as well have a drink!”

Coast is clear-dump him here”

Upstairs, across from Hobo stairs-looking down on deceased drop off point. I took this picture on a rainy day on the backlot.

“Poor fellow- sure has some nice shoes”

Good place to sleep up there”

Up -Theredifferent angle on our Hobo stairway.

The final moment of this most iconic stairway. I wanted this so bad, I’ve run up and down this a million times-recreating every movie scene ever done. My first view of filming on these stairs was Charlton Heston looking down in Soylent Green.

This wise old owl and I became friends. Center picture-white head, focused on me. A pair of them could be found up here sleeping in daylight, hunting at night. On quiet nights-the owls could be heard communicating fervently at times, shrieks echo the length of the street. Owls are part of the landscape. They ended up having babies. I’m proud to say offspring- Still Exist. I saw one recently flying off with a possum toward the Columbia Pictures sign and iconic Water Tower on Lot 1. Bone piles of digested rodents made like a science puzzle. I love owls!

Recognize this?-The alley being demolished.

1975- “garbage” is set dressing.

“Those are some high falutin shoes”

Same stairs -1976. Set dressed for Popi, a short lived MGM TV project starring Hector Elizondo.

Camera Marker-“Action”…My favorite words.

I feel rich”… just strutting along.

I like your shoes,- I’ll trade ya”

1980- Same angle our actor begins his feverish walk upset at our street vendor. Damaged vehicles are left over from the TV Series “CHiPs”

What gives old man?”

Get out of the way!”

This is not what I need!”

First, my tie gets caught in the elevator-now this!”

Where the trucks are parked in this picture is where the impatient man in those magic black shoes was struck down, on that corner. August 1973-“Lemon-Up” commercial being filmed.

The same area as the hit and run– long before the television series existed.

Larry Blyden gets killed in this alley and goes straight to “heaven”

You’re a Winner!”

Before being “Mr. French” Sebastian Cabot absolutely nails this part as Mr. Pip, the Devil’s Caretaker. This is the other Place

A down and out Jack Klugman befriends a trumpeter in this alley. “A Passage for Trumpet”

Sometimes, taking the high road in battle tested running shoes is “What you Need -to escape, that is!

Active Lad ShoesHigh performance, all terrain, acrobatic, dependable, and silent- except when playing basketball. The “right” shoe always wears out first- due to never ending skateboarding, which we do here often.

Shoes are important on these backlots…

Fancy shoes are for entitled hobos and movie stars. Trades and craftsmen wear boots and protective footwear. Security wears polished, shiny black leather footwear that match their uniforms. Trespassers wear tennis shoes-always ready to run and scale fences. It’s on the backlot they all come together like keys on a piano.

You can tell a man’s life story by the shoes he wears. You can tell a kid’s by all the scuff marks and dirt trapped below the surface. All the dirt on my body, from my cheeks, brow, hands, etc. is from somewhere here at MGM. I’ve worn out several pairs over the years here at MGM because- that’s what kids do! That’s what moms are for…new shoes, clean clothes, and dinner.

The Twilight Zone features two episodes with shoes as the narrative. Neither “ends well ” for the guest stars who fit inside these fancy Oxfords… Death becomes them.

Many times, hiding from security searching whatever building I’m hiding in, you hear only footsteps. Some rapid, some thuds, some soft footing sneaky types. You tune in on your surroundings, especially when you’re hiding from the law. Their fancy polished shoes make noise-like a tap dancer in a MGM Musical. My tennis shoes are silent, yet comfortable. When we climb fences, we are careful not to leave scuff marks. Shoe prints on fence tops are a dead giveaway for enquiring security personnel. The fences reflect the wear and tear of shoes, the rubber marks left on metal fences tell their own shoe story.

These two shoe episodes were always especially cool since both filmed extensively on the same section of New York Street. I can’t tell you how many times we relived the hobo scene at the top of the stairway. I’ve spent many an afternoon killing time in this alley that has more history- than any alley in the world.

This alley is the same one used in Boystown in 1938. Kids are throwing fruit at one another as Father Flanagan walks down the street adjacent to our alley.

I’ll keep focused on the Twilight Zone history, since this is that post.

In “A Nice Place to Visit episode, Larry Blyden is killed in this alley in a robbery and discovers himself in his “afterlife”. Sebastian Cabot stars as the provider of “any wish’ and is in charge of that “other place.” Directed by John Brahm. Writer-Charles Beaumont. Season 1-episode 28.

In “Person or Persons Unknown” Richard Long -“David Gurney” escapes from an institution that has a set in this alley. Charles Beaumont wrote this one also with the same director, John Brahm, this time in season three-episode 27.

Jack Klugman and John Anderson meet- in this alley in “A Passage for Trumpet,” Directed by Don Medford, Written by Rod Serling. Season One-episode 32. Featured music by Lyn Murray, including trumpet cues.

This condensed section of the backlot is like a funnel everything channels through. It’s fairly safe, but a long way from fences. If you somehow end up being pursued, just keep climbing higher than the pursuers. Catwalks connect to other buildings allowing eventual escape. Reason being, “no one is going to make that climb if they don’t have to.” Sometimes we have no choice and I’ve had to do it at night-“the devil you see vs. the devil you don’t.”

Somehow I survived, thanks most likely to a a very worn -in pair of black and white tennis shoes with a mind and story all their own…

Written and lived by…Donnie Norden

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