Actor and two children killed on Twilight Zone set - HISTORY
Year
1982

Actor and two children killed on Twilight Zone set

On this day in 1982, Vic Morrow and two child actors, Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le, are killed in an accident involving a helicopter during filming on the California set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Morrow, age 53, and the children, ages six and seven, were shooting a Vietnam War battle scene in which they were supposed to be running from a pursuing helicopter. Special-effects explosions on the set caused the pilot of the low-flying craft to lose control and crash into the three victims. The accident took place on the film’s last scheduled day of shooting.

Twilight Zone co-director John Landis (Blues Brothers, Trading Places, National Lampoon’s Animal House) and four other men working on the film, including the special-effects coordinator and the helicopter pilot, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to a 1987 New York Times report, it was the first time a film director faced criminal charges for events that occurred while making a movie. During the subsequent trial, the defense maintained the crash was an accident that could not have been predicted while the prosecution claimed Landis and his crew had been reckless and violated laws regarding child actors, including regulations about their working conditions and hours. Following the emotional 10-month trial, a jury acquitted all five defendants in 1987. The familes of the three victims filed lawsuits against Landis, Warner Brothers and Twilight Zone co-director and producer Steven Spielberg that were settled for undisclosed amounts.

Twilight Zone: The Movie was released in the summer of 1983. The film, which received mixed reviews, was based on a popular science fiction TV series of the same name that aired from 1959 to 1964 and was created by Rod Serling. In the movie, four directors– Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller–each adapted a different episode of the TV series, which chronicled the stories of people who found themselves in highly unusual situations.

Vic Morrow had previously appeared in numerous TV shows and such films as The Blackboard Jungle (1955)and The Bad News Bears (1976). He was the father of actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Margot at the Wedding).

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Military seizes power in Egypt

In Egypt, the Society of Free Officers seizes control of the government in a military coup d’etat staged by Colonel Gamal Abdal Nasser’s Free Officers. King Farouk, whose rule had been criticized for its corruption and failures in the first Arab-Israeli war, was forced to ...read more

Detroit Riots Begin

The Detroit Riots were among the bloodiest riots in American history. Thel strife occurred during a period of Detroit’s history when the once-affluent city was struggling economically, and race relations nationwide were at an all-time low. The Detroit Police Department’s vice ...read more

Miss America resigns

On this day in 1984, 21-year-old Vanessa Williams gives up her Miss America title, the first resignation in the pageant’s history, after Penthouse magazine announces plans to publish nude photos of the beauty queen in its September issue. Williams originally made history on ...read more

U.S. women take home gymnastics gold

On July 23, 1996, at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team wins its first-ever team gold.The 1996 U.S. women’s team, nicknamed the “Mag 7″ or “magnificent seven,” was made up of seven immensely talented teenaged girls: Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, ...read more

Former President Ulysses S. Grant dies

On this day in 1885, just after completing his memoirs, Civil War hero and former President Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer. The son of a tanner, Grant showed little enthusiasm for joining his father’s business, so the elder Grant enrolled his son at West Point in 1839. ...read more

Montana rancher Conrad Kohrs dies

Conrad Kohrs, one of Montana’s first cattle barons, dies in Helena.A native of Denmark, Kohrs immigrated to the United States in 1850 at the age of 15. Seeking his fortune, he headed west in hopes of finding a gold or silver mine. He had some small success in California and ...read more

Raymond Chandler is born

Raymond Chandler, creator of detective Philip Marlowe, is born in Chicago on this day.Chandler was raised in England, where he went to college and worked as a freelance journalist for several newspapers. During World War I, Chandler served in the Royal Flying Corps. After the ...read more

Legionnaires gather in Philly

On this day in 1976, members of the American Legion arrive in Philadelphia to celebrate the bicentennial of U.S. independence. Soon after, many began suffering from a mysterious form of pneumonia. Their ailment would come to be known as Legionnaires’ disease. About 4,000 ...read more

Black Bart strikes again

Black Bart robs a Wells Fargo stagecoach in California. Wearing a flour sack over his head, the armed robber stole the small safe box with less than $400 and a passenger’s diamond ring and watch. When the empty box was recovered, a taunting poem signed “Black Bart” was found ...read more

An accord on Laos is reached

Avoiding a Cold War showdown, the United States and the Soviet Union sign an agreement guaranteeing a free and neutral Laos. While the agreement ended the “official” roles of both nations in the Laotian civil war, covert assistance from both Russia and the United States continued ...read more

Halleck takes command of the Union army

General Henry W. Halleck assumes the role of general-in-chief of all Union forces in an effort to better coordinate the overall Union war effort, which is floundering.A native of New York, Halleck graduated from West Point in 1839. He showed such promise that he was allowed the ...read more