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.

Question - WHERE ARE THE TWILIGHT ZONE PROPS?   Answer - IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

EXPLANATION - THE CURRENT CBS ARCHIVISTS HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM.  AFTER THE SHOW WAS CANCELLED SOME PROPS WERE REUSED IN OTHER PRODUCTIONS, BUT MOST OF THE PROPS WERE IN BAD CONDITION AND WERE THROWN OUT.  HOWEVER, SOME COMMON PROPS DID SURVIVE AND WERE AUCTIONED OFF BY MGM IN THE EARLY 70'S.

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.

In my honest opinion, if you have your heart set on finding an original TWILIGHT ZONE prop, you're most likely setting yourself up for a disappointment. 


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:

IMAGE THIEVES: DO NOT STEAL IMAGES AND/OR TEXT FROM THIS PAGE TO USE ON EBAY AUCTIONS. I WILL REPORT YOU FOR INFRINGING ON MY COPYRIGHTS AND YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO RE-LIST YOUR SWAMI MACHINE!!!

The Twilight Zone Archives™ properties © 1999-2017 The Twilight Zone Archives™.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  

TALKY TINA

THE MYSTIC SEER

BILLY'S TOY TELEPHONE

 Vogue Brickette Doll 

Swami Fortune Machine, a 60's Halloween Candy Dispenser Head, Mystic Seer Plastic Cover Replica

Ideal Plastic Toy Telephone

This full sized doll (19") was a product that the prop dept used as the Talky Tina doll in the episode 'Living Doll'; an ALTERED prop.  It was a doll from the time, and was modified - they added a motor which made the arms move up and down. The voice was that of June Foray.

Seen as the Mystic Seer in the episode 'Nick of Time', Swami Fortune Machine were used by the prop dept as an ALTERED prop. The creator of the Swami Fortune Machine (his name escapes me at the moment...) was hired to take some Swamis and make the different covers that were used and are recognizable in the episode. He was not given any of his machines back after shooting. The devil's head that was attached to a spring-base on top of the machine, was first a Halloween candy dispenser top that the prop dept looked at for an idea, they then sculpted a new head and poured latex molds. These machines are available, but not as widely numbered as before. I met the the Swami creator and his dealer and I remember he spent years tracking down old Cafes for some of his machines.  Seen here is a homemade plastic cover that acts as a great replica - thanks TONY!

 


 

MORE TO COME...

When Billy receives a special toy telephone from his Grandma in the episode 'Long Distance Call', it's appears that he was using a version of an Ideal toy telephone from the time, as an EXISTING prop; the one pictured is black, the one in the episode seems to be red with a yellow or white dial

ERICOFON

"Ericofon" phones were used as EXISTING props in episodes "Third 
from the Sun" and also "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You"