According to the “Twilight Zone” Museum archives, Robert L. McCord made a whopping 67 appearances over the course of the original 156-episode run of the series. That’s a little over 40 percent. However, less than five of his appearances were credited on screen, as a majority of his performances went uncredited. Character actor Dick Miller might have the reputation as cinema’s greatest “Hey, it’s that guy!” performer, but McCord is a legend in the eyes of the “Twilight Zone” fandom, despite the fact he never played a leading role. Sometimes credited as “Bud McCord,” his nondescript appearance and timelessness allowed him to play a variety of characters regardless of setting. Whether he was playing a cowboy, milkman, police officer, everyman, or part of the wealthy elite, all it took was a bit of a costume change and McCord would disappear into the role.
One would think that the person who appeared in the most number of “Twilight Zone” episodes would be some big-named celebrity, but that’s just not the reality of this industry. Think about a show like “Law & Order: SVU” with over 500 episodes but shot in the same city every time — it would be unsurprising if there are some New York City background actors boasting episode appearances in the triple digits playing roles like “Girl Buying Bagel” or “Juror #4.” These performers are vital to the industry, which is why studios are trying to replace them with digital replicas so they don’t have to properly compensate them. Removing background actors also means removing craft services required to feed them, costumers to clothe them, hair and makeup artists to style them, and casting directors to find them.
“Twilight Zone” nightmare stories are better as episode plots, not the reality of the entertainment industry. I’m sure career background actors like Robert L. McCord would agree.