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Yes, those words “global warming” have come back to haunt us.  This after we have done everything we can think of to simply replace “global warming” with any kind of more palatable words, including “climate changes, “Santa Anna fronts” and “the greatest hoax since written history began”.  But in spite of all these newer terms of endearment with what is happening to our weather, global warming continues to get more intense in America every day, like that “Midnight Sun” episode in the old Twilight Zone series in the sixties that seemed to be prophesying what is taking place in the world today.

I was just a dopey 12 year old kid in Corvallis Oregon in 1961 when Rod Serling put out one of his greatest actresses – Lois Nettleton – to play a woman in one of the Twilight Zone’s most intense episodes – The Midnight Sun.  Nettleton played an urban woman trapped in her apartment-living patterns in a helplessly inflexible urban community while the weather outside keeps getting hotter and hotter.

Rod Serling as creator of the Twilight Zone has sometimes been called the H.G. Wells of American culture, via the understanding that both Serling and Wells were futurists who wrote futuristic prophecies as commercial art.  Serling in particular was concerned about such issues as global warming even in the early sixties.  The other issue he was especially concerned about – since he had been an American paratrooper fighting against Hitler from the time of the D Day invasion of Normandy – was the vulnerability of America becoming subject to fascist leadership.

To wage cultural war against these fronts, Serling employed his finest young actors.  It might be remembered that Rod Serling was so respected as a producer of cinematic art – as a writer and a producer – that he had an especially brilliant stable of young performers who were always anxious to work with him.  The up-and-coming performers who signed up with Serling to work on Twilight zone episodes including a very young Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper. Cloris Leachman. Inger Stevens, Lois Nettleton, and many more.

Okay, since this show enlisted what mav be the greatest abundance of young talented actors since shows began, let me add the names of just a few more – Oscar-winning Cliff Robertson, Telly Savalas, Martin Landau,  Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Jack Klugman, Anne Francis, Don Rickles, Elizabeth Montgomery and James Coburn

He chose his most brilliant young performers to star in the Twilight Zone themes that most concerned him – such as those prospects of American fascism and global warming.  So he set up what may have been his most brilliant young actor – Dennis Hopper – to play a rising political demagogue who uses the language of snarling fascist hatred to develop a sudden political following in America. This was the episode titled “He’s Alive,” and it wasn’t about Hitler actually taking over America – it was Hitler teaching an American the persuasion of hatred that the same racist hatred would take over America through an American fool.

And Serling chose a brilliant young stage actress – Lois Nettleton – to play the voice of global warming.

I understand that Lois Nettleton is not now nor was she ever a house-hold name in America.  This is because while she acted in many movies, her most brilliant productivity was on the American stage.  I was extremely privileged to see her play Blanch DuBois in a Broadway production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in what I think was -- along with Richard Chamberlain’s later starring role in “The Night of the Iguana” in the Circle in the Square – the most brilliant acting of the words of Tennessee Williams that I have ever seen, twelve years after I saw Nettleton in black-and-white starring the “The Midnight Sun.”

Recently you may remember we have had the hottest Thanksgiving ever on record – going over the 90 degree mark as the people in Santa Clarita were trying to bake huge Thanksgiving Day turkeys.  It is much more difficult to cook huge turkeys or to do any sustained cooking at all in 90 degrees weather.  You certainly have to make adjustments, even turning the air conditioning on (in the end of November yet.).

Lois Nettleton in “The Midnight Sun” was certainly making adjustments also during her half hour of global warming, going to even more drastic steps than turning on air conditioning at the end of November.  The most drastic adjustments she was making was taking her clothes off, fabric by fabric, even while she had to deal with neighbors who kept bothering her for any cooling water she might have stored.  By the end of the show Nettleton was about as naked as a woman could get on TV back in 1961.

But Serling as we know was more than willing to put on display Nettleton’s beautiful body if he that is what it takes to make a point.  And the point of “The Midnight Sun” is about what happens to people when they become unresponsive and remain in denial too long while a crisis in their environment is going on all around them.

So, to be sure, what was happening in “The Midnight Sun” in 1961 and what was happening in the hottest Thanksgiving we ever had in 2017 was not climate changes and it was not Santa Anna on the warpath.

It was … say it.  It was global warming.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.