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Christine White: Heroine From a Classic ‘Twilight Zone’ Episode

Posted By Patrick Kiger On May 20, 2013 @ 2:47 pm In Legacy | Comments Disabled

Christina White Twilight Zone [1]Actress Christine Lamson White, who died on April 14 at age 86 [2] in Washington, D.C., racked up an impressive 53 appearances [3] in TV series and made-for-TV movies during a career that stretched from 1952 to 1976, including roles on hit programs such as The Fugitive, Bonanza, The Untouchables and Perry Mason. She also had a small role in a 1973 Clint Eastwood action movie hit, Magnum Force.

But White remains best known as the wife who sat next to a then-youthful William Shatner on an airliner in a classic 1963 episode of  The Twilight Zone, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet [4],” in which Shatner’s character sees a monster on the wing that apparently only he can perceive. YouTube Preview Image [5]

White’s character, Julia Wilson, was the wife of Robert Wilson (Shatner), who had recently been discharged from a “sanitarium” after suffering a mental breakdown – on an airplane, as his bad luck would have it. As a New York Times obituary [6] of White recounts, her signature moment came at the beginning of the episode, when she utters these fateful lines:

“Honey, you are cured. That Dr. Martin wouldn’t let you fly if you weren’t – would he?”

White’s character spent most of the rest of the episode dozing peacefully on her husband’s shoulder, thanks to a dose of sleeping pills. But the episode itself became so renowned that it was not only expanded into a movie, but also parodied on TV programs such as Saturday Night Live, 3rd Rock From the Sun and The Simpsons.

Some other interesting facts about White:

  • She began acting in plays while attending the University of North Carolina, where she studied English.
  • She reportedly [7] was romantically involved with actor James Dean in her youth, and her final role was in a 1976 made-for-TV movie about him.
  • She appeared in the 1973 movie Magnum Force as a woman who flirts [8] with Clint Eastwood’s character Harry Callahan.
  • She eventually left acting and returned to her native Washington, D.C., to take care of her elderly mother. During that time, she produced and distributed a quarterly bulletin, The Rampart Papers.


Also of Interest


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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/20/christine-white-twilight-zone-nightmare-at-20000-feet-classic-tv/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Screen-shot-2013-05-20-at-2.36.57-PM.png

[2] died on April 14 at age 86: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/carrollcountytimes/obituary.aspx?n=christine-l-white&pid=164726583#fbLoggedOut

[3] 53 appearances: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0924614/

[4] Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: http://vimeo.com/30123068

[5] Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dar2HKImK-0

[6] New York Times obituary: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/arts/television/christine-white-known-for-twilight-zone-role-dies-at-86.html?_r=0

[7] reportedly: http://books.google.com/books?id=LS1Fd28URPEC&dq=val+holley+james+dean+the+biography&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7mGaUdehBq3l4AOIxYGQBg&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA

[8] flirts: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0007356/

[9] James Tolbert: The Man Who Integrated the TV Industry: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/16/james-tolber-integrated-tv-industry-beverly-hills-hollywood-naacp/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[10] 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ernest Borgnine: http://blog.aarp.org/2012/07/08/five-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-ernest-borgnine/?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[11] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[12] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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