Long Distance Call

"Long Distance Call" is episode 58 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on March 31, 1961 on CBS. In the episode, a 5-year-old boy named Billy communicates with his dead grandmother using a toy telephone that she gave him on his birthday.

"Long Distance Call"
The Twilight Zone episode
Lili Darvas as Grandma Bayles and Billy Mumy as Billy Bayles.
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 22
Directed byJames Sheldon
Written byMaxwell Sanford (originally attributed to Charles Beaumont, William Idelson
Featured musicuncredited
Production code173-3667
Original air dateMarch 31, 1961
Guest appearance(s)

Opening narration

The narration begins a few minutes into the episode:


Billy's beloved grandmother visits for his 5th birthday party, despite being deathly frail. She gives the boy a toy telephone, telling him that he can always talk to her on it. She then becomes gravely weak and delusional; she doesn't recognize her son Chris and imagines that Billy is her son, who was "taken" from her. Grandma then dies.

Billy's parents, especially his mother Sylvia, become concerned when he spends all his time on the toy telephone talking to his grandmother. He says that she tells him she is lonely and misses him. While the parents are at her funeral, Billy runs out in front of a car. The driver, who barely manages to swerve out of the way, reports that Billy said someone told him to do it. When asked, Billy denies it. Billy's father tries to explain that Grandma has died, and asks that he not use the toy phone in front of his mother. He explains to Sylvia that his mother had two children before him, both of whom died, which is why she was so attached to Billy, who reminded her of them.

That night, Sylvia is awoken by the sound of Billy talking and laughing. Going to his room, she grabs the phone out of his hands, but is shocked when she hears Grandma on it. Billy runs out of the room. Chris and Sylvia look for him, and are horrified to find him face down in their garden pool.

An ambulance attendant informs the parents that Billy's chances are not very good. Chris goes upstairs to Billy's room, picks up the toy phone, and begs his mother to give Billy back and allow him to experience life. He pleads that if she really loves him, she will let him live. Downstairs, the attendants' efforts to revive Billy succeed, and when Chris joins them, he and Sylvia embrace, relieved.

Closing narration

Episode notes

As The Twilight Zone's second season began, the production was informed by CBS that at about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. By November 1960, 16 episodes, more than half of the projected 29, were already filmed, and five of those had been broadcast. It was decided that six consecutive episodes would be videotaped at CBS Television City in the manner of a live drama and then transferred to 16-millimeter film for future syndicated TV transmissions. Eventual savings amounted to only about $30,000 for all six entries, which was judged to be insufficient to offset the loss of depth of visual perspective that only film could offer. The shows wound up looking little better than set-bound soap operas and as a result the experiment was deemed a failure and never tried again.

Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this, the last one, broadcast on March 31, 1961. The first, "The Lateness of the Hour" was seen on December 2, 1960 as the eighth episode broadcast; the third, "The Whole Truth" appeared on January 20, 1961 as the 14th episode; the fourth was the Christmas show "The Night of the Meek", shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960; the fifth, "Twenty Two" was seen on February 10, 1961 as the 17th episode.


See also


  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
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