Original Air Date: January 19, 1962
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Director: Buck Houghton
“Nathan Edward Bledsoe of the Bowery Bledsoes. A man once, a specter now, one of those myriad modern-day ghosts that haunt the reeking nights of the city in search of a flop, a handout, a glass of forgetfulness. Nate doesn’t know it but his search is about to end. Because those shiny new shoes are going to carry him right into the capital of The Twilight Zone.”
The scene is a dimly lit back-alley gutter in a big city. A homeless man named Nate Bledsoe (Warren Stevens) suddenly discovers a dead body in the alley donning a pair of fancy shoes. He quickly steals the shoes for himself and walks out into the streets, but the shoes seem to possess a strange power over him. Seemingly in a trance, Bledsoe enters the apartment of a beautiful woman who instantly recognizes his shoes but demands that he leave. Bledsoe realizes that while he wears the shoes he assumes the persona of her (now deceased) boyfriend Dane.
Bledsoe –now under the mystical power of Dane– travels to a nightclub where he confronts a group of gangsters who killed Dane. Bledsoe pulls a gun on them just as a hidden assassin springs forth. “You didn’t think that would work twice, did you?” says Dane dodging the attacker, but just then yet another hidden mobster shoots Bledsoe/Dane, and with his dying breath he utters, “I’ll be back again and again until I get you.” At the end, the gangsters dump Bledsoe’s body in an alleyway, and a new homeless man spots his fancy shoes and takes them.
“There’s an old saying that goes: ‘If the shoe fits, wear it.’ But be careful. If you happen to find a pair of size nine black and grey loafers, made to order in the old country, be very careful. You might walk right into The Twilight Zone.”
Despite having a unique premise, “Dead Man’s Shoes” is not one of the more memorable episodes in the series.
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- This episode was yet another example of The Twilight Zone series featuring several crossover actors with Star Trek: The Original Series.
- This episode was remade in both the 1985 and 2002 reboots of the series.
- This episode shares certain thematic elements in common with Season 1’s episode entitled “The Four Of Us Are Dying.”
- The original idea for this episode involved a haunted cowboy hat.
- While the script was credited to Charles Beaumont, in truth he actually was bogged down in other projects so he farmed it out to a friend, OCee Ritch who had also originated the idea for the episode “Static.”
- Five years after this episode’s release, Charles Beaumont tragically died at age 38 of what is believed to be Alzheimer’s Disease.