Little Bits of History

“Wanna see something really scary?”

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 23, 2010

July 23, 1982: Vic Morrow and two child actors are killed on a movie set when a helicopter goes out of control and crashes into them. Twilight Zone: The Movie was being filmed in four parts. Three classic episodes from the 1959-64 television series and one new episode were filmed separately with a prologue and epilogue tying them together.

Twilight Zone: The Movie poster

Vic Morrow’s role was that of a bigot sent back in time to become the people he despised. He was to play a Jewish  Holocaust victim, an African-American about to by lynched by the KKK and a Vietnamese man fleeing from US soldiers. He was on the set holding two small children, Myca Dinh Le, aged 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, aged 6. The scene had the helicopter flying in low, pursuing Morrow and the children. A pyrotechnic explosion caused the copter to lose control and crash into the actors. Morrow and one of the children were decapitated and the other child was crushed to death by the falling copter. The people inside the helicopter were slightly injured. .

Involuntary manslaughter charges were brought against Landis, the film’s director as well as the associate producer, the production manager, the special effects supervisor, and the pilot. The final results were that one second assistant director had his name removed from the credits. The friendship between Landis, the director, and Steven Spielberg, the producer, was shattered. That relationship was already shaky because of disagreements between the two over Landis’s violating so many codes.

The other noted results of this accident were that child labor laws in the US were radically altered and the use of night sets and special effects scenes were further regulated. The film was shrouded in the horror of the crash and was not a huge success at the box office. It does have a cult following and helped bring about the resurrection of the 1980s television version of The Twilight Zone.

“You’re traveling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Next stop, The Twilight Zone!” – Tagline for the television show

“There’s a remedy for all things but death, which will be sure to lay us flat one time or other.” – Cervantes

“To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.” – Erich Fromm

“Life in the movie business is like the beginning of a new love affair: it’s full of surprises and you’re constantly getting fucked.” – David Mamet

Also on this day, in 1914 the Serbian government refuses to allow outside investigation into Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s death.
Bonus Link: In 1888, John Dunlap receives a patent for improved tires.