OBITUARY: Carolyn Serling, Long-time Resident, Ithaca College Trustee

February 3, 1929 to January 9, 2020

Carolyn Kramer Serling, 90, a long-time resident of Pacific Palisades, died in her home here on January 9.

The widow of screen writer and “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling, she was the executive producer on the new “Twilight Zone,” the fourth edition of the series, which was hosted by Jordan Peele in Serling’s role as host and narrator (2019 to present).

Carol was born in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Warren A. and Ann Caldwell Kramer. When she was less than two years old, her mother died unexpectedly, and she was raised by her grandparents. She attended The Ohio State University Laboratory School in Columbus and graduated from MacDuffie School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

She attended Antioch College in Ohio, which is where met her future husband, Rod Serling, a World War II veteran. They married July 31,1948.

After completing college in 1950 (Carol’s degree was in psychology and education and his was in literature), the couple moved to Cincinnati, where Rod worked for a local radio station.

After two years, Carol supported Rod’s decision to devote himself to full-time writing and they moved to Westport, Connecticut, to be near New York City and live television.

In the mid-1950s, the family moved to the Palisades Riviera and lived on Monaco. They raised two daughters, Jodi (who graduated from Palisades High School) and Anne. Serling created and produced the acclaimed “Twilight Zone” TV series from 1959 to 1964.

Serling, when interviewed by The Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, N.Y., spoke about Carol. “Her taste is excellent and she has an unerring instinct about whether my work is good or bad — except for ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight.’ She disliked the play because she disapproves of boxing.”

The family split their time between Pacific Palisades in the winter and Ithaca, New York, along Cayuga Lake in the summer. They stayed in a cottage, built by Carol’s great-grandfather George Caldwell, the first professor hired by Cornell University.

Carol co-authored a book about the Cayuga area which featured photographs taken by her great uncle, Ray Chamberlain.
Rod Serling died on June 28, 1975, in Rochester, N.Y., after having a heart attack and open-heart surgery.

Carol continued to live between the two locations after his death and served as a consultant and appeared in “Twilight Zone: The Movie” (1983). She was a supervising producer for 1994’s “Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics.”

Carol was also an associate publisher and consulting editor from 1981-89 on a magazine dedicated to the 1959-64 anthology show.

According to the Ithaca Journal, she was a “volunteer for the Fair Housing Council, the PTA, the suicide prevention center, and served in various roles for the League of Women Voters. For 30 years, she was the volunteer toy and book buyer at Santa Monica Hospital auxiliary gift shop.” A life-long learner, she took art classes in painting, ceramics and glazing and enrolled in political science classes at UCLA. She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

In Ithaca, she served for 18 years on the Ithaca College board of trustees. According to the college, Carol donated Rod’s works to the college and helped establish the Rod Serling Archives as the largest single collection of his works. The collection also includes his six Emmy Awards; original typed scripts for most episodes of the Twilight Zone series; unproduced scripts; and photos, films and books from Serling’s personal collection.

The Ithaca College IC News wrote that Carol helped endow the Rod Serling Scholarship in Communications, which is awarded to students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications who demonstrate outstanding creative scriptwriting ability.

“She also took a central role in establishing the annual Rod Serling Award for Advancing Social Justice through Popular Media, which is presented to a contemporary media industry professional whose work shines a light on prejudice, inequality and evolving social norms.” Awardees have included legendary writer and producer Norman Lear; award-winning writers/producers Bill D’Elia ’69 and David E. Kelley; “Black-ish” executive producer Kenya Barris; and David Simon, creator of the celebrated HBO series ‘The Wire.’

“She also served as a judge for the Rod Serling Scriptwriting Competition, which honors excellence in a short script displaying strong contemporary social themes in the science fiction and horror genres, and whose winner is recognized at the award ceremony. This year’s ceremony, scheduled for April 8 at the Directors Guild of America Theater Complex in Los Angeles, will be dedicated in Carol’s memory.”

Carol is survived by daughters Jodi Serling (Michael Talarski) and Anne Serling-Sutton (Doug); three grandchildren, Ryan Rothstein-Serling, Erica Serling Petersen (Ross) and Sam Serling-Sutton; two great-grandchildren, Alyssa and Aidan; and half-sister Deedie Kramer Bedosky; a niece and two nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, grandparents, parents and half-brother.

No memorial service will be held, and Carol’s ashes will be buried next to her husband in Interlaken, New York. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her honor to an environmental or educational charity.

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One Response to OBITUARY: Carolyn Serling, Long-time Resident, Ithaca College Trustee

  1. Mary Cole says:

    I shall miss my dear friend Carol- we go back fifty years with many memories.
    RIP my dear friend.

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