Roy Thinnes' broken ankles saved us from the aliens

Fate intervened in Thinnes' career, and we were all spared from abduction.

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An alien infestation isn't even the least likely thing about The Invaders. That the show happened at all, with the right actor in the lead role, was all just a coincidence. The sci-fi program, which ran from 1967-'68, starred Roy Thinnes, who never really wanted to grow up to be an actor. Good thing he changed his mind, though. The Invaders — for a show that lasted two seasons — had an outsized impact on sci-fi media and conspiratorial culture.

While attending Amundsen High School in Chicago, Roy Thinnes was determined to make his career in medicine. Fate intervened though, and during spring football training his senior year, Thinnes suffered an injury resulting in two broken ankles. The setback freed up Thinnes' schedule, and a group of friends dared him to step outside his comfort zone to audition for the Chicago Board of Education Radio and TV workshop. That dare changed the course of Thinnes' life; he was accepted into the program and quickly lost interest in pursuing a medical career.

The workshop led to appearances in a series of industrial films and eventually a role in a TV pilot. The pilot, which aired as a part of The DuPont Show of the Week, was Thinnes' first national exposure and gave him the confidence to move out west and commit to acting. His new calling was briefly interrupted by his service with the Military Police but quickly resumed with several television jobs.

Before taking on the role of David Vincent on The Invaders, Thinnes furthered his presence in the public eye with guest appearances on shows like Peter Gunn, Gunsmoke, and The Fugitive. Those roles skyrocketed Thinnes' cachet in Hollywood, as he quickly began securing acting jobs continuously. His "big break" came as the philandering Dr. Brewer on two seasons of General Hospital. Thinnes wrapped production on that role on a Sunday in 1965 and began working the very next day on ABC's The Long Hot Summer. When that show finished filming in 1966, Thinnes was once again off to a new show only a day later. This time, he was starring as David Vincent in the Quinn Martin production of The Invaders.

As David Vincent, Thinnes gave conspiracy a handsome, neighborly face. Rather than the alien invasion theories coming from a quack on the fringes of society, The Invasion normalized thought and speech outside the cultural norm. The Larry Cohen-directed series was foundational in moving sci-fi forward.

All of that success was the direct result of two broken ankles. So remember, what seems like a setback today points us in another direction for tomorrow's triumphs.

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TJ24TJ 7 months ago
Is it still on? My DVR didn't record it this weekend 10/8 Sunday at 5am.
EP2020 11 months ago
Runeshaper 12 months ago
This really is important to remember:“… what seems like a setback today points us in another direction for tomorrow's triumphs.”
CaptainDunsel 12 months ago
Quinn Martin revisited the "Invaders" premise a decade later in the series "Tales of the Unexpected", episode "The Nomads", with actor David Birney in the equivalent role to "David Vincent". *Slightly* different outcome, though. [evil grin]
Sway 12 months ago
That show had me spooked when you was a kid. Watching out for the deformed finger.
Toot1956 Sway 12 months ago
same here, the Narrator's voice at the beginning used to scare me , and I would jump under my moms arms and close my eyes and plug my ears up Lol.
Peter_Falk_Fan 12 months ago
I liked him as David Vincent. He was great on "The X-Files", too. MeTV has "The Invaders" on in 'the dead zone' as I call it. I wish they hadn't moved it from its earlier time. I guess I'll have to buy the DVD set.
Andybandit 12 months ago
I am probably the only one who never saw The Invaders.
KJExpress Andybandit 12 months ago
No, you're not.
McGillahooala Andybandit 12 months ago
You’re missing out.
Bapa1 12 months ago
a show ahead of it's time. Would have liked to see a series finale.
McGillahooala Bapa1 12 months ago
Maybe we’re better off without one. Just kind of wonder where things might have went. Too many shows have been ruined with less than wonderful finales.
JERRY6 Bapa1 12 months ago
why we are living it
Andrewl16 McGillahooala 2 months ago
Reason there wasn't a season finale because The Invaders was renewed for season 3 but thanks to typical moron ceo's who didn't like Quinn Martin the idiots canceled the show.
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