Ida Lupino was the only person to act in a Twilight Zone episode and direct another

She starred alongside Humphrey Bogart then directed everything from thrillers to sitcoms throughout the 1960s.

Image: The Everett Collection

Ida Lupino was born in London and began acting at a very young age. While still a teenager, she came to Hollywood and won a contract at Paramount Studios.

She worked constantly, acting in multiple films a year into the 1950s. She starred alongside Humphrey Bogart in two consecutive pictures, They Drive by Night and High Sierra.

While she became one of the most prolific actors of her time, her true passion was to be calling the shots behind the camera. She wrote the screenplay for 1949’s Not Wanted and when original director Elmer Clifton suffered a serious heart attack and had to bow out, Lupino took over.

She went on to direct many more films, including three she co-wrote — Never Fear, Outrage and The Hitch-Hiker.

With the rise of television in the 1950s, Lupino transitioned to the popular new medium. She won many roles in front of the camera but continued her directing career as well.

Lupino in ''The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine''

In an early episode of The Twilight Zone, "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine," she played an aging film star obsessed with re-watching her old movies. Years later, she returned to the show — this time to direct.

She helmed the classic season-five episode "The Masks" about a wealthy man on his deathbed who invites his greedy heirs to a Mardi Gras party and instructs them to wear specific masks. Of course, being an episode of The Twilight Zone, and one written by creator Rod Serling himself, all is not as it seems.

''The Masks''

Lupino was the only person to star in one episode of the iconic thriller series and direct another. Frequent Twilight Zone directors Douglas Heyes and John Brahm made cameos in episodes they directed but neither could be considered starring roles. In fact, Heyes merely voiced the small, titular characters in his well-known episode "The Invaders."

Lupino's talent in the director's chair was not limited to serious drama. She directed eight episodes of Have Gun – Will Travel, including "The Gold Bar," one of the shows funnier stories. She also directed the classic Bewitched episode "A is for Aardvark" in which Samantha makes the house cooperate with Darrin after he sprains his ankle.

Lupino directed episodes of many more shows like Gilligan's Island and The Virginian throughout the 1960s. She was just the second woman admitted into the Directors Guild of America, after trailblazing filmmaker Dorothy Arzner. Turns out, she could wear a lot of different masks herself.

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Paulsalapatas 1 month ago
Great actress and director. In "the sixteen millimeter Shrine", I believe her character caught a big break in being able to escape in the film. A terrible human being who got away with Twilight Zone not handing out her "just rewards". still bothers me to this day! lol
daDoctah 2 months ago
As a director, I associate Ms Lupino mainly with film noir thrillers (although there was that Gilligan episode where she got to tell Phil Silvers where to stand). As an actress I can't help but be reminded of her appearance on TV's "Batman" alongside her husband Howard Duff.

And of course for those of us who are fans of silent movies, she was the niece of comedian Lupino Lane.
Hogansucks1 2 months ago
Brilliant mind,- they definitely picked up on that early on, and I’m sure shear drive and passion also help’s! This story made my day complete. Thank- You ! 😊
Stoney 2 months ago
She was very talented indeed. "The Masks" is a great, unforgettable episode. She was perfect in "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine," an underrated episode.
frances3agape Stoney 2 months ago
1 of my top 5 episodes.
Very sad until the end when she gets her wish.
What is it Martin Balsam said, "Here's to dreams, Bobbie" or "Here's to wishes, Bobbie"?
Inrodwetrust 2 months ago
I’ve always marveled at all the movies/shows I saw her name as the director considering at the time she was doing it. Sadly woman directors are still hard to come by in this “modern” era. Very talented woman especially in such a male dominant field. Good for her 😊
YES, she was way ahead of her time.
Several years ago, Turner Classic Movies had a mini-bio bit about her.
Until then, I had no idea she was so prolific and involved behind the scenes too
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