Long Distance Call

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This article is about a The Twilight Zone television episode. For the Supernatural episode, see Long Distance Call (Supernatural). For the Phoenix song, see Long Distance Call (song). For long-distance telephone calls, see Long-distance calling.
"Long Distance Call"
The Twilight Zone episode
The Twilight Zone Lili Darvas Billy Mumy 1961.jpg
Lili Darvas as Grandma Bayles and Billy Mumy as Billy Bayles.
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 22
Directed by James Sheldon
Written by Charles Beaumont and William Idelson
Featured music uncredited
Production code 173-3667
Original air date March 31, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Prime Mover"
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"A Hundred Yards Over the Rim"
List of season 2 episodes
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Long Distance Call" is episode 58 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on March 31, 1961 on CBS.

Opening narration[edit]

The narration begins a few minutes into the episode:


A boy named Billy communicates with his father's mother using a toy telephone that she gave him on his birthday, just before she died. His parents become concerned when Billy spends all his time having "pretend" phone conversations with his deceased grandmother. He says that she tells him she is lonely and misses him.

One day, Billy runs out in front of a car. The driver, who barely manages to swerve out of the way, reports that Billy said someone told him to do it. Later, his mother grabs the phone out of his hands and accidentally drops and breaks it when she hears breathing on the other end. She is convinced that the telephone is a direct link to the dead grandmother. His father still thinks Billy is pretending. Upset at the loss of his only remaining connection to his grandmother, Billy attempts to drown himself.

An ambulance attendant informs the parents that Billy's chances are not very good. Billy's father goes into Billy's room, picks up the toy phone, and begs his mother to give Billy back and allow him to experience life. The attendants successfully revive Billy as his parents embrace.

Closing narration[edit]


Episode notes[edit]

Billy Mumy also starred in the original series episodes It's a Good Life as Anthony Fremont and in In Praise of Pip as a young Pip Phillips.

Five weeks into The Twilight Zone's second season, the show's budget was showing a deficit. The total number of new episodes was projected at twenty-nine, more than half of which (sixteen) had already been filmed by November 1960. CBS strongly suggested that in order to trim the production's $65,000-per-episode budget, six episodes should be produced and telecast in the cheaper videotape format, eventually transferred to 16-millimeter film for future syndicated rebroadcasts. The studios of the network's Television City, normally used for the production of variety shows and live drama, would serve as the venue. There would be fewer camera movements and no exteriors, making the episodes more akin to soap operas (and the network's Playhouse 90 anthology), with the videotaped image effectively narrowing and flattening perspective. Even with these artistic sacrifices, the eventual total savings amounted to only $30,000, far less than the cost of a single episode. The experiment was thus deemed a failure and never attempted again.

Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this, the final one, shown on March 31, 1961 as episode 22. The first, "The Lateness of the Hour", was seen on December 2, 1960 as episode 8; the second, "Static", appeared on March 10, 1961 as episode 20; the third, "The Whole Truth" was broadcast on January 20, 1961 as episode 14; the fourth was the Christmas entry, "The Night of the Meek", shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960 and the fifth, "Twenty Two" was seen on February 10, 1961 as episode 17.

This was also the final episode sponsored by General Foods (Sanka, S.O.S Soap Pads), which ended its two-year primary sponsorship of the series. Beginning with the March 14th episode, the series' new alternate sponsor was Liggett & Myers, for Oasis cigarettes.

Popular culture references[edit]

A replica of the little boy's toy telephone is on display in one of the gift shop windows at the Hollywood Tower Hotel in Disney's California Adventure park. The red toy telephone is described as "perfect for the children's room and those late night calls from grandmom."

The film Poltergeist II: The Other Side shows a scene in which Carol Anne Freeling receives a call from her grandmother the moment that she passes away.

See also[edit]


  • 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]