As I Knew Him:: My Dad, Rod Serling

As I Knew Him:: My Dad, Rod Serling

by Anne Serling


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"Beautifully written...I laughed and I cried. I plan to read it again once I catch my breath."
--Carol Burnett

In this intimate, lyrical memoir about her iconic father, Anne Serling reveals the fun-loving dad and family man behind the imposing figure the public saw hosting The Twilight Zone each week. After his unexpected, early death, Anne, just 20, was left stunned. But through talking to his friends, poring over old correspondence, and recording her childhood memories, Anne not only found solace, but gained a deeper understanding of this remarkable man. Now she shares her discoveries, along with personal photos, revealing letters, and scenes of his childhood, war years, and their family's time together. A tribute to Rod Serling's legacy as a visionary, storyteller, and humanist, As I Knew Him is also a moving testament to the love between fathers and daughters.

"A tender, thoughtful and very personal portrait of American genius Rod Serling."
--Alice Hoffman

"Richly told...a haunting memoir about grief, creativity, and a father-daughter bond as memorable and magical as any Twilight Zone episode."
--Caroline Leavitt

"Filled with anecdotes and self-reflection...Serling still casts an outsized shadow."

"Lush memories of a remarkable father and adept analysis of his work."
--Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806536736
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 04/29/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,277,589
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Before becoming a full-time writer, Anne Serling was an early childhood teacher with a bachelor’s degree from Elmira College. She serves on the board of directors of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation and is involved with the Rod Serling School of Fine Arts "Fifth Dimension" program. She lives in New York. Visit her at or on Facebook.

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As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a befitting tribute this is to Anne's dear adored Dad, writer Rod Serling. The readers will be elated to know that this is a "Dear Dad" book and not a trashy daddy dearest book. It's if the reader is holding Anne's hand as she goes through the stages of grief after her dad's death. Some background info on Mr. Serling's career and works, I had read previously in other works. But the impact of his personal life was very moving and far from the TV persona that children of the 50s , 60s & 70s had come to know, love and respect. If Anne published other works, I'll be the first to purchase and read it. Thank you Anne.
Aria526 More than 1 year ago
  Like most people, The Twilight Zone was a part of many stages of my life. As a child, there were episodes I loved, episodes that scared me and episodes I was too young to understand. Later Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone marathon would keep me company while on  call at the hospital on holidays. When teaching courses about classic works in Social and Behavioral Sciences, I elected Rod Serling to be my teaching assistant. His insight into human nature and societal dynamics helped illustrate to my students why century-old theories were still relevant. Whenever I teach a theory, I relay the life story of the theorist to my class to show them how life experience fuels the creative process. However I never gave much thought to the man behind the TZ episodes except to acknowledge his genius. I certainly never thought of him as a husband or father; Rod Serling was just the man who guided viewers to another dimension. Reading “As I Knew Him” pulled back the curtains and showed me the man behind the icon – the child of hardworking parents, the brave  paratrooper for whom the war never really ended, the fighter for social justice and equality, the writer who weaved his life experiences  into art and entertainment and most importantly, the family man whose priorities never seemed to shift from those he loved. Anne Serling invites us along as she examines her father’s life and her relationship with him. The emotion in her words makes it feel as if she is newly discovering answers as she writes and we are voyeurs into the processing going on in her head and her heart. The  writing is raw, honest and vulnerable. Whether it’s the uncontrolled laughter of a little girl playing with her daddy or the paralyzing grief of a young woman struggling to find meaning in the world after the loss of her father, Anne Serling hides nothing from the reader. In  doing so, you are transported into her world. My heart broke as she struggled with her loss and grief, it cheered as she found light in the  world again, and it swelled with the love that is evident throughout the book. Personally, I can only imagine the type of relationship that inspires such a love letter as Anne Serling as written to her father. The words she has strung together in tribute to him convey the magic of their bond, a bond that will never be broken. Anne Serling has obviously  inherited her father’s talent though I am sure Rod Serling’s reply to this would be to craft a story where it is the parents who inherit the  gifts from their children. Anne Serling has surely given her father -and us- an amazing gift in this reflective and heartfelt memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anne Serling has left a piece of her heart on every page of this deeply moving book. If you have ever experienced any type of loss in your life you will be able to relate to Anne’s beautifully written, and very personal memoir about her well-known father, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. When he died in 1975, she began a reluctant journey through shock and grief to acceptance, although painful, it is a journey of love and learning. Anne generously and gently takes the reader by the hand and introduces us to her father as a smiling carefree boy, a sweet young man, and most poignantly as an eager, soon to be tested WWII solider. For those who know and love the Twilight Zone and his other television work, well you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may appreciate it even more because Anne puts it all within the context of this incredibly talented man's life. Of course she knew him best as Dad, and here she vividly captures his humor, playfulness, his caring ways, and his dedication to social causes. Her imagery is exquisite and the visual nature of her writing is one more thing that makes this book so memorable. The time you spend with "As I Knew Him" will be time well spent and somewhere within its pages you will know why Anne Serling had to write this book, devotion.
52chickadees More than 1 year ago
“An Intimate Look Into the Life and Loves of Rod Serling” Being a child of the Fifties, living in close proximity to his hometown of Binghamton, New York as well as being a diehard “Twilight Zone” fan, I thought I knew all there was to know about writer/producer/director, Rod Serling. Was I ever wrong! Daughter, Anne Serling has given readers an intimate look into this multi-faceted genius of a man she is proud to call her Father. We learn of Rod’s early childhood years and the struggles of his beloved Mother and Father, (who owned and operated “Serling’s Wholesale Market” on Washington Street in Binghamton) all the while giving him love, courage, encouragement and strength. The shared letters between Rod and his parents are heart tugging and honest. We follow Rod into his paratrooper training and as a member of the 511th Airborne Division, a division which landed in the Philippines and into the Battle of Leyte-which was among some of the fiercest fighting of the war and where he sustained a leg injury which will plague him for the rest of his life. We are privy to his college days and the courtship and marriage to a lovely lady named Carolyn, who was his Soulmate and gave him the gift of two delightful Daughters, whom he adored. Author as well as devoted Daughter, Anne, shares snippets of several episodes of the “Twilight Zone” and the inspiration behind them. There are mentions of his “Old Stomping Grounds” in Binghamton and Ithaca, New York and beyond, mentioning his Mentor and Friend, Helen Foley and the Binghamton Central High School. His works were not limited to television, as you will soon learn with his outstanding screenwriting. There are many touching stories of those who worked and played (Paddle tennis, etc.) with Rod and knew him well. I feel one of the most touching parts in the book is the correspondence between Father and Daughter. Thank-you Ms. Serling, for sharing those precious memories with us, his admirers and fans. As you will plainly see, Rod Serling wore many hats, and he wore them well. Son, Husband, Father, Talented Writer, Champion of the Underdog, proud American Citizen and so much more. He might have been small in stature, but he was a tiger when it came to a cause he believed in. We are witness, when at the young age of 50, he dies of heart complications and we are taken into the world of a Daughter’s grief. A grief that only one who has gone through something similar concerning someone close to them can identify with. It is a dark, nasty monster with gnarled teeth, that once bitten, you have a difficult time unclenching its jaws, but with the love and support of her Family and Husband, Anne Serling shows us it can be done and the love she has for her Father will continue for all eternity. Whatever you plan on reading this Spring, please put this title on your TBR list—It is one book that should not be missed. Nancy Narma
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A loving and insightful tribute: speaks from the heart and touches the reader's soul... As a lifelong fan of Rod Serling, I eagerly anticipated the release of As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling, written by his daughter Anne. It is an overwhelming understatement to say that I was not disappointed. What Anne Serling offers up is an extraordinarily heartwarming and vividly detailed memoir of a daughter's love and admiration for her father. The book takes the reader far beyond the boundaries of the Twilight Zone, revealing the various dimensions of Rodman Edward Serling - from his childhood days at the Bennett Avenue home in Binghamton, through his World War II service, his beginnings as a struggling yet bound-and-determined writer, and the birth of his beloved his legendary five-year run on the Twilight Zone, multiple Emmy Awards, and his later years as both teacher and writer. Memories are shared in the form of personal letters, nostalgic photographs, and poignantly written passages penned from the author's heart. Especially moving are her reminiscences of lazy summers days at the red cottage in upstate New York. She describes her father as a man whose life is inexorably altered by the traumas of war, the untimely loss of his own father, and the struggles to maintain his health in his later years. Anne reveals her father as a person of great compassion and social conscience. His respect for all people is reflected in his passion for human and civil rights. His dedication and unconditional love for his family (which included an extremely colorful menagerie) shines through the pages of her book. He left an indelible imprint on the lives of so very many, and he continues to move and inspire new generations with his timeless tales. The art of writing, passed down from father to daughter, has been cathartic in the lives of both Rod and Anne. For Rod, he began writing primarily as a means to cope with the traumatic effects of the war. For Anne, writing has served as a healing mechanism and as an integral part of the ongoing effort to cope with the loss of her father. Anne's book oozes with genuineness and heartfelt descriptive passages that evoke vivid images in the mind of the reader. Some parts brought me to tears, while others made me smile or burst into laughter. Throughout, I had the sensation of being taken on a special journey - one that transported me directly into the midst of a magical relationship between two very special human beings. For this experience my life will be forever richer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the work of Rod Serling and how I respect him as a man. I can never get enough information about him and feel more connected to him than I do any other storyteller. For years now I have wanted to go see where he fought in the Philippines in World War II and to visit his hometown in Binghamton New York. Most people think of him as the writer of the Twilight Zone, but I also read, or watch, his earlier work and admire that stuff just as much - things like Patterns, Velvet Alley and Requiem for a Heavyweight. His work matters. He had something to say about what it means to be a human being in this world and our responsibility to other human beings and unlike many writers nowadays he was not afraid to say it. Most writers now would rather say nothing at all than risk appearing "preachy". I have a screenwriter friend, Stewart Stern, who adapted one of Mr. Serling's television plays, The Rack, into the screenplay for the theatrical film and has nothing but kind things to say about Rod. He said to me wistfully one day, "I miss Rod. He was a sweet man". Stewart is about the sweetest man I know so this is high praise. All of my life I have envied those who got to meet Rod, or work with him or studied under him or called him a friend. It is because of this that I would like to thank Anne Serling for her loving book about her father. I want to thank her for sharing her father with the rest of us. It cannot be easy to have such a public parent when you want him all to yourself so there is something selfless about what Anne Serling has done here. I felt like I got to know Rod and even grieve along with Anne when she writes of her struggle with his death. Her book is well written and easy to read in that way that looks easy - it's hard work to write something that is easy to read. If you are dealing with the grief of a loved one this book may make you feel less alone. And if you are a fan of Rod Serling this book may help you feel a little closer to him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my hometown we long ago staked a claim on Rod Serling.  And our admiration for him is broadcast all over our Fair City.   However, the Rod Serling we celebrate is the screen writer, the creator of the television series The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, the special guest who comes to our commencement ceremonies and inspires our young drama students to pursue their careers  in drama. We "know" the man in the black suit, white shirt and tie; smoking a cigarette and speaking in a deep, tight; almost strained voice. We are accustomed to hearing him dole out his words in rapid-fire staccato fashion; then ending his introductions with a slight turn of his upper lip.  And he scared us. What Anne Serling gives us is the man; the son, brother, husband, father, uncle and friend.   A son very close with his parents and an avid letter writer to his Father.  A husband who delights in his wife's ability to create comfortable living spaces for them, to raise their two lovely daughters and to be his cheerleader in chasing his dreams.  A husband who loves to pull pranks on his wife just to hear her laugh.  A life long friend to several men who played paddle tennis with him during his life and paid tribute to him after his death.  And  as the title so poignantly reveals "As I Knew Him: My Dad..." - a father who frequently was on floor level to play with her, a daddy who allied her night time fears, a Father who wrote her the most intimate letters while she was away in college.  A Dad who had several nicknames for her and used them in the most amusing and touching ways.  A father who not only held her hand, but held her heart.  A heart which was crushed after his death.  The celebration of Anne's relationship with her father is so very beautifully written by a woman who is certainly her Father's daughter in more ways than one.  And I don't know about you, but I could hear that screen door slam at the cottage.  And I could see the little hand made boats bearing a single candle each, floating down the lake "carrying away that last gasp of summer's glow". I was enchanted.  I was mesmerized.  I laughed and I cried.  And most of all, I did not want Anne's story to end.  I wanted her to continue entertaining me, and somehow I believe she will.   - 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ordered it, read it, LOVED it! Thank you so much for writing an incredible memoir and sharing it with the rest of us. I have admired your dad for so long and now I feel as though I had known him. You captured the warmth and humanity of your father with every written page and I for one am extremely grateful. Thank you. I know your dad is extremely proud!!
formerjourno More than 1 year ago
In this compelling memoir, Anne Serling quotes this from notes for one of her father’s seminars: “All writers are born; they’re never made…”  Perhaps when he wrote those words Rod Serling already knew that his daughter had inherited his gift for powerful writing.  Now, we all know.  But you need never have seen an episode of The Twilight Zone or even have heard of Rod Serling to appreciate this insightful book.  Because this book isn’t about just one man or one family; it’s about family itself, and love, and loss.  And that is a dimension that is known to all of us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book to accompany or follow up Twilight Zone Companion, written by Marc Scott Zicree, and referenced by Ms. Serling throughout her beautiful tribute to her late father. One of my college professors was a neighbor to the Serlings in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood in West Los Angeles and he had wonderful things to say about Mr. Serling and the entire family. This book affirms my professor's remembrance and the impressions I felt when enjoying Mr. Serling's work over the past 50 years. Thank you Ms. Serling for this amazing book filled with such great insights! May your father's memory be eternal!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At last, a book that tells the truth about Rod Serling, written (solo) by his loving and beloved daughter, Anne Serling. Not only do you read of his life’s history, starting with his family and boyhood in Binghamton, NY, but more importantly you learn about the kind of man, friend and above all, father that this cultural icon really was at heart: highly intellectual, of course, but never pretentious; sweet, effervescent, self-effacing, quite a prankster and an uncanny mimic right down to a killer gorilla impression, profoundly loving, profoundly honest, fearless, emotionally generous, joyfully silly – and throughout his soul, a deeply committed and remarkable humanist. Ms. Serling peppers the narrative with funny and illuminating anecdotes about many instances in his life, theirs together, and among their family and friends. Many personal letters are included in this tender, insightful book. Throughout it, you feel a wondrous sense of actually knowing this man as if a friend in real life. You will be immensely moved by the depth of empathic, soul-encompassing love between father and daughter. They were unreservedly close, kindred spirits reveling in each other’s company or missing each other achingly when living far away from each other. There was so much unfettered joy in their mutually teasing relationship that by the time Ms. Serling writes of her father’s death and its unbearable aftermath in her heart, you feel stunned by grieving right along with her. It is poignant and painful, yet gorgeous in its latter elegiac tone. Although Ms. Serling’s prose throughout the book is evocatively well-written, it is in the final segment of the narrative – following Rod Serling’s first heart attack – that her prose truly soars, astonishes, and you will mourn her overwhelming loss as one of our own. Her pain is ineffable, but she manages magically to eff it anyway. It’s quite a feat: unsparingly honest, her emotions raw to the bloody bone, heart-wrenching as she describes the way a bright sunny day seems a malevolent affront to her dark new world, as she describes suffering the loss of her best friend; her eventual transcendence is sublime. The closing vignette is perfection. In reading this memoir, not only do you find out what kind of great humanist and immensely warm personality was this icon in real life, this brave man of vast talent who was primary among those few who brought art and thought and intellect to the new medium of TV (and later, to film); not only all that, but this: you are privy to feeling the immense love between a father and a daughter, the mutuality of respect, solicitousness, silliness and unabated adoration that few among us are lucky enough to have without reservation in our own lives. While we can weep for Ms. Serling’s horrific loss, we can envy her that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up watching TZ on TV, so I was amazed and surprised to learn about the "real" Rod Serling.  What a lovely memoir this is!  Anne Serling writes not only well, but movingly, about her relationship with her famous father and the multifaceted nature of his character.  Thoughtful, touching, and intelligent, AS I KNEW HIM is a wonderful read, especially for those of us who grew up admiring Anne's father's genius.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This beautifully written memoir explores the wonderful relationship between father and daughter. It is obvious that Anne has a deep and compassionate soul, and that her father's death was a devastating event in her life. She pours her heart into every word and you can feel the love and respect she has for Rod as you read her recollections of the stories of her childhood. I was laughing and crying right from the start. Anne has the wonderful gift of eloquent expression through the written word. Thank you for sharing such touching memories with those of us who were not fortunate enough to have met him personally. You have made us all feel as though we know him, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rod Serling was one of the most influential storytellers of the twentieth century. With classic television shows, like the hard hitting dramas of "Playhouse 90," to the masterful science fiction of "The Twilight Zone," Serling was in a league of his own. Now, thanks to this extraordinary new memoir written by his daughter, Ann Serling, we are provided with an in-depth look at the man behind the brilliance. We read the letters he sent home to his parents while serving in World War II and the ways in which his combat experiences shaped his writing. We learn of his unflinching commitment to social justice and how his deeply held convictions found their way into several "Twilight Zone" episodes. Above all else, however, we learn about Rod Serling, the family man. He clearly loved being a dad, and after having read the book, I can say he had much to be proud of as a father. Poignant, funny, sincere, and sharply written, Ann Serling's memoir is an incredibly moving look at a gorgeous father-daughter relationship. "As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling" is a worthwhile addition to any summer reading list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story of a girl and her father and a touching story about A famous Dad, a sudden death and how she moves forward. Oh I did I mention it about Rob Serling as well? A must have in your library. You will be forever changed by this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In an age of instant gratification, an age of reaction not reflection, Anne Serling's memoir of life with her father, Rod Serling, is a welcome addition to the thoughtfully kept and cherished bookshelf. It is a work of restraint and reflection - one that has been allowed to simmer inside the soul of the author and so generously allows the reader to sit for a few insightful and graciously shared hours with her as she walks back through the decades to recall the time with her father, who was above all, a writer of prodigious talent and a visionary with a subtle message for mankind. The reflections within this labor of love are highly personal, yet capture the same universal spirit of experience Rod Serling's work in television's formative, then golden, years. In Anne Serling's narrative I see my own love for and longing to understand a father, for in the end this book is just that: a meditation by a child now grown and changed by a life lived in the shadow of family, a father, a time we all can relate to where we busy ourselves forging an identity while coming to terms with those who helped shape it. Bravo, Anne Serling - and thank you for sharing such personal and powerful reflections with those who were also touched by your father's complex and creative legacy. The work he created is for all of us, the memories you have of him are yours alone and it is with sincere gratitude that I thank you for offering a glimpse of a few of them to us all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely amazing story telling. Just when we thought we knew everything about the man behind the Twilight Zone a work like this comes along. A brilliant mix of biography and autobiography.  Personal and heartfelt. A testament to the Serling legacy. 
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