Binghamton Sidewalk of Stars.

Rod Serling and the Sidewalk of Stars

Binghamton, New York

For an-all-too-brief period after World War II, the city of Binghamton pumped out mid-level celebrities. They were the not-quite-giants of their day: Richard Deacon, who played the boss on the Dick Van Dyke Show and Lumpy's dad on Leave it to Beaver; Jim Hutton, who starred in Period of Adjustment and The Green Berets (and fathered Timothy Hutton); Johnny Hart, the cartoonist who created B.C. and The Wizard of Id. All are honored with bronze stars on the Binghamton Sidewalk of Stars, which extends out from Binghamton's Metrocenter like a red carpet of cracking concrete.

Walking Distance memorial.
Bandstand memorial to Serling's Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance."

The first member of the Sidewalk of Stars was Binghamton's most famous hometown hero: Rod "Twilight Zone" Serling, born here on Christmas Day, 1924. The popularity of Rod can be seen in the wear and tear inflicted on the stars next to him, from years of Twilight Zone fans standing on them while admiring Rod. Let's take a moment to acknowledge those long-suffering neighbors: John Covelli (guest conductor of the Boston Pops), Frank T. Mincolla (a producer), and Anthony George (a soap-opera actor). Rod's star notes his role, simply, as "Writer."

Rod Serling fandom manifests itself in other Binghamton locales as well. A plaque on the front lawn of the high school proclaims that Rod was here, although the plaque itself looks suspect -- like it once commemorated something else and was retooled as a shop class project.

Rod Serling star.

Further west, in Recreation Park, an inscription in the floor of the bandstand honors "Walking Distance," a Twilight Zone episode set in a very similar park in which Gig Young plays a 36-year-old burned-out executive (Rod was 36 at the time).

And downtown, in the lobby of the Forum Theatre, a permanent exhibit titled "Day of a Playwright" chronicles Rod Serling's life, with a highlight being his 1937 Good Penmanship certificate.

Binghamton Sidewalk of Stars

Downtown. On the north side of Court St./US 11 between Water and State Sts. The sidewalk heads north to the entrance to Metrocenter.

Rod Serling High School Plaque

Hwy 17C/Main St.,, Binghamton, NY
Just west of the river on Hwy 17C/Main St., on the south side, between Oak and Front Sts.
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Rod Serling "Walking Distance" Plaque

Recreation Park

Recreation Park, Binghamton, NY
On the west side of town in Recreation Park, in the center of the small columned bandstand just north of the larger enclosed carousel.
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Rod Serling's 1937 Penmanship Certificate

Forum Theatre

Washington St., Binghamton, NY
Downtown. On Washington St., one block west of State St. and two blocks north of Court St./US 11, in the lobby of the Forum Theatre.
Theater hours. (Call to verify)
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February 19, 2020

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