Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" was inspried by a real-life ornithological disaster! Surpising details about a popular "Twilight Zone" episode! Actress Elke Sommer's life was saved by a psychic!
-Intriguingly, the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcok's 1967 thriller, "The Birds," was a real-life incident that took place in Capitola, a small California coastal community approximately 50 miles south of San Francisco! Early Friday morning, August 18, 1961, when fog was thicker than pea soup, masses of frenzied sea birds, attracted by the town's lights, began slamming into buildings, autos, and even humans carrying flashlights.
When the fog had cleared, thousands of birds were found dead, dying, or in a state of shock. While no mortals were killed, 7 had to be hospitalized from the bird strikes. Coincidentally, Hitch had been vacationing in nearby Scotts Valley and heard the mind-boggling report which served as an impetus for his acclaimed production. Of course, unlike the feathered creatures in Capitola who inadvertently flew into people, his did so with malicious intent.
Ruehl Fact: In the1951 horror anthology TV series, "Lights Out," vengeful birds were depicted in the episode appropriately entitled," The Angry Birds," starring John Forsythe!
-A few years ago, readers of "The Twilight Zone Magazine" voted "The Private World of Darkness" their favorite TZ episode. Notably, a woman, enacted by actress Maxine Stuart in a tour de force Emmy-caliber performance, superbly enunciates her plight as a hideously ugly female whose face is swathed in bandages after having undergone her 11th plastic surgical procedure. The twist in the tale is unveiled when the bandages are removed, and we see a gorgeous blonde surrounded by grotesque doctors, nurses, and hospital staffers.
However, the actress seen is not Stuart, but rather Donna Douglas of "Beverly Hillbillies" fame who was considered more beautiful, and hence, more apropos for the end scene. As she races through the hospital until she encounters another "disfigured" human, she utters only a single brief line to minimize the chances that the audience would recognize a different voice. The credits at the end of the episode properly listed Stuart, first, Douglas, last.
Ruehl Fact: Many TZ fans mistakenly believe that the title of this episode is "The Eye Of The Beholder," which would have been quite appropriate as the relative nature of beauty was discussed. Apparently, that was the original plan as creator Rod Serling referred to this episode with that title in a preview announcing it as the next week's episode, but somewhere along the line it was changed..
-In 1972, glamorous actress Elke Sommer, star of such horror flicks as "Baron Blood"(1972) and "The Devil and the Dead"(1973), was slated to visit her mother's home near Nuremberg in her native Germany. However, she received a letter from psychic Rosa Bratter which warned that she would be the next victim of the so-called "Midday Killer." Wisely, she heeded the seeress' admonition and postponed her trip by one day. Authorities captured the killer soon thereafter...his diary outlined plans to kidnap Sommer and hold her for ransom!
She stated that the incident only served to cement her belief in the paranormal realm that lies beyond the everyday world.
Ruehl Fact: Sommer's given name was Elke Schletz!
Video:"Twilight Zone" Factoid:
Video: Another tale of angry birds in action: