The topic of WHERE HAVE ALL THE TWILIGHT ZONE PROPS GONE comes up all the time. Everyone wants a Talky Tine doll, an Invader puppet, a Mystic Seer Fortune Machine, a Willy Ventriloquist doll or something that was actually used in the show. Here's the lowdown on the missing TZ props and how to find look-alikes and reproductions.
Based on information referenced from the CBS
ARCHIVES , I'm prepared to post some final words on this subject.
A SMALL HANDFUL OF PROPS ARE KNOWN TO EXIST, for example: Anne Francis has a plaster mold of her face from 'The After Hours', Marc Scott Zicree has Klugman's 'Death Ship'/'Forbidden Planet' shirt and an outfit from 'The Parallel', George Clayton Johnson, writer of the episode Nothing in the Dark, has a decorative plate that hung on the wall behind Robert Redford; he mentioned to me that director Lamont Johnson handed it to him as a memento, and Doug Heyes originally had some 'Invader' puppets, but years later he tossed them out when they had rotted away!
As told by a family member, Rod Serling once brought home the infamous ventriloquist doll Willy, for daughters Jodi and Ann to play with, but he had to return it to the prop department afterwards. Buck Houghton brought an Invader puppet home to his son once, for him to play with as well, Buck had to return it afterwards.
Rod Serling's TWILIGHT ZONE group weren't
able to keep 'UNIQUELY CREATED' TWILIGHT ZONE PROPS while the
show was in production and only a few people were able to get things
after the show was cancelled. Studios were known for reusing props until they were literally falling
apart, sometimes tossing them out after a show was cancelled, and
unfortunately they did so in regards to our beloved TWILIGHT ZONE.
Instead, here's a helpful guide in hunting down items that resemble TWILIGHT ZONE PROPS:
First piece of prop information you'll want to know - there are three types of props:
1) EXISTING - an existing item which the property department uses as a prop; a product that is bought and used.
2) ALTERED - an existing product which is altered or modified, which the property department uses as a prop.
3) UNIQUE - an item which the property department uniquely creates and uses as a prop.
With that in mind, it is safe to assume that it's beyond rare and next to impossible to actually find a UNIQUE TWILIGHT ZONE PROP or even an ALTERED TWILIGHT ZONE PROP.
So, the only logical items to search for are EXISTING items that were the same type of things used as props in the show, or reproductions.
It's no surprise that places like flea-markets, collectible shows and online auction websites will occasionally have items which can be the same 'type' of thing that was used as a TWILIGHT ZONE prop.
Online Auctions - if a seller 'claims' to have an original TWILIGHT ZONE prop, make sure it is in fact an ORIGINAL prop and has similar words to the effect that 'this is the actual prop used in the Twilight Zone...'. Be sure that the item has some type of authentic documentation or the seller can furnish on-screen proof that it was in an episode. Still, anyone can find an existing item that is the same type of thing used as a common prop and 'say' that it was used in the show. It's truly a difficult task in proving a prop's authenticity. Be sure to stay away from 'it is believed that this prop was used in The Twilight Zone...', or, someone that cannot provide on-screen proof and still claims that 'this prop was used in numerous Twilight Zone episodes...'; several EBAY auctioned 'TZ PROPS' weren't actually used in the show - a staff claimed to have been used in The Howling Man was a prop used for some other Hollywood productions, a cosmetic sign that can't be seen anywhere in the series, and one seller at one time claimed he has several items including a clock, book-ends, a portable radio, etc., still, when asked for on-screen proof, the seller would not make further comments. THAT is a big warning sign that these Ebay auctions are fakes. Another more recent Ebay auction was for a set of presumed on-screen 'Eye of the Beholder' foam-rubber pig mask pieces. Upon closer examination of the items and the episode, these items resemble reproductions which have popped up before, but some buyer paid over $400 for them, regardless. So, don't be fooled by the online auctions.
UPDATE 02.02.11: In the last couple of years, some background props with handwritten notes from the set designers were up for auction on Ebay - these indeed turned out to be the closest thing to legitimate TZ props; I myself had purchased a number of them. One prop in particular (CSA Bugle from The Passersby), comes very, very close to being 100% screen-identified. However, it's not close enough in the camera to positively identify it at 100%; it's more like 95%. Still, I am convinced they are real, simply because of the authentic documents (unlike the numerous Ellis Props which turn up without any form of ORIGINAL documents at all; those of which only come with cards that were made up in the PRESENT, with the assumption of said props being rented to the MGM Studio and used on TZ - these cannot be trusted). Again, all of this only backs up the notion that screen-identifying background props is next to impossible. Not improbable, mind you, but VERY difficult.
Here are a few items (which resemble existing props) that can be found:
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