And When the Sky Was Opened

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"And When the Sky Was Opened"
The Twilight Zone episode
Jim Hutton Sue Randall Twilight Zone.JPG
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 11
Directed byDouglas Heyes
Teleplay byRod Serling
Based on"Disappearing Act"
by Richard Matheson
Featured musicLeonard Rosenman
Cinematography byGeorge T. Clemens
Production code173-3611
Original air dateDecember 11, 1959
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Judgment Night"
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"What You Need"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 1)
List of The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) episodes

"And When the Sky Was Opened" is episode eleven of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on December 11, 1959.[1] It is an adaptation of the 1953 Richard Matheson short story "Disappearing Act".[2]

Opening narration[edit]

Her name: X-20. Her type: an experimental interceptor. Recent history: a crash landing in the Mojave Desert after a thirty-one hour flight nine hundred miles into space. Incidental data: the ship, with the men who flew her, disappeared from the radar screen for twenty-four hours...But the shrouds that cover mysteries are not always made out of a tarpaulin, as this man will soon find out on the other side of a hospital door.


United States Air Force Colonel Clegg Forbes arrives at a military hospital to visit his friend and co-pilot Major William Gart. The two had recently piloted an experimental spaceplane, the X-20 DynaSoar, on a mission that took them 900 miles beyond the confines of the Earth's atmosphere, the first time man had been that far out in space. During their voyage the men blacked out for four hours and the craft itself disappeared from radar screens for a full day before reappearing and crash landing in the desert, leaving Gart with a broken leg. Gart inquires as to the status of the plane, but Forbes is clearly agitated and asks Gart if he remembers how many people were on the mission, producing a newspaper with a front page showing the likenesses of the two men and a headline stating that two astronauts were rescued from the desert crash. Gart confirms that only he and Forbes piloted the plane, but Forbes insists that a third man – Colonel Ed Harrington, his best friend for 15 years – accompanied them.

In a flashback, on the previous morning, Harrington and Forbes are shown joking with Gart as they are discharged from the hospital after passing their physical exams, leaving the Major to recuperate alone. The same newspaper that Forbes would later show Gart is present but, accompanied by a photo depicting a crew of three, the headline instead asserts three astronauts were recovered from the crash of the X-20.

Harrington and Forbes visit a bar downtown. While there, Harrington is suddenly overcome by a feeling that he no longer "belongs" in the world. Disturbed, he phones his parents who tell him they have no son named Ed Harrington and believe the person calling them to be a prankster. Harrington then mysteriously vanishes from the phone booth and no one in the bar but Forbes remembers his existence. Increasingly desperate, Forbes searches for any trace of his friend but can find nothing in the bar. His girlfriend, Amy, does not remember Harrington, and neither does his commanding officer. Returning to the closed bar, he breaks in by smashing through the glass door looking for Harrington, calling his name repeatedly. He then breaks down in the phone booth where his friend vanished.

Back in the hospital in the present, Forbes finishes recounting the story to Gart and is dismayed by his friend's claim that he doesn't know anyone named Harrington. Forbes then glances at a mirror and discovers he casts no reflection, causing him to flee the room in terror. Gart tries to hobble after him only to find that Forbes has disappeared. Calling the duty nurse to ask if she saw where Forbes went, Gart is stunned by the nurse's claim that nobody named Forbes has been in the building and that Gart was the only man who was in the hospital room. After getting back into bed, he notices the newspaper headline has changed. It now says that Gart was the sole pilot of the X-20 – all mention of Forbes, including his photo, is gone. Horrified, Gart also disappears.

An officer enters the building and asks the duty nurse if there are any unused rooms available to accommodate new patients. The nurse takes him to the now completely empty room which hosted the three astronauts, telling him that it has been unoccupied. The officer affirms that it will be appropriate for malaria patients and orders that new beds be installed. The hangar which previously housed the X-20 is then shown, with the sheet that covered the craft lying on the ground. There is no trace of the plane.

Closing narration[edit]

Once upon a time, there was a man named Harrington, a man named Forbes, a man named Gart. They used to exist, but don't any longer. Someone – or something – took them somewhere. At least they are no longer a part of the memory of man. And as to the X-20 supposed to be housed here in this hangar, this, too, does not exist. And if any of you have any questions concerning an aircraft and three men who flew her, speak softly of them – and only in – The Twilight Zone.


Episode notes[edit]

This episode is loosely based on the short story "Disappearing Act" by Richard Matheson.[2] The story was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (March 1953).[3]

Rod Taylor and director Douglas Heyes later worked together on the TV series Bearcats![4]

Toward the end of the episode, Rod Taylor's character, Clegg Forbes, panics when he appears to cast no reflection when looking at a mirror in the hospital room. Due to a production error in crafting this illusion, Taylor's right elbow is, in fact, visible in the mirror throughout the duration of this shot, with three fingers of Taylor's right hand appearing in the mirror as well when Taylor raises his hands in horror.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Watch The Twilight Zone Season 1 Episode 11: And When the Sky Was Opened - Full show on CBS All Access". CBS. Archived from the original on 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  2. ^ a b Zicree, Marc Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion (second ed.). Hollywood: Sillman-James Press. p. 61.
  3. ^ "Contents". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  4. ^ Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010 p69


  • DeVoe, Bill (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0.
  • Grams, Martin (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0.

External links[edit]