Alec Baldwin’s fatal accident recalls ‘Twilight Zone’ tragedy

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Alec Baldwin's fatal accident recalls 'Twilight Zone' tragedy

Alec Baldwin’s deadly filmmaking accident is reminding fans of an infamous fatal incident on the set of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” that led to criminal charges and sweeping changes in Hollywood.

The fatal shooting Thursday by Baldwin came nearly 40 years after Tinseltown’s deadliest film-set tragedy, in which actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, ages 6 and 7, were crushed by a helicopter while making the “Twilight Zone” flick, which was produced by Steven Spielberg.

Six others were also injured in the 1982 stunt, which involved a simulated mortar explosion that detonated too early, hitting the chopper’s rotor blades and forcing it to spin out of control before falling on the actors.

Morrow’s “Combat!” co-star Dick Peabody later insisted that his pal’s last words had been about his fears over the stunt.

“I’ve got to be crazy to do this shot. I should’ve asked for a double,” Peabody wrote of Morrow, who was holding the two kids who died alongside him, Renee Shin-Yi Chen and Myca Dinh Le.

Director John Landis and four co-defendants — including special effects coordinator Paul Stewart — were charged, but eventually found innocent of involuntary manslaughter following a 10-month criminal trial. 

The Twilight Zone helicopter accident
The 1982 accident involved a simulated mortar explosion that detonated too early, hitting the chopper’s rotor blades and forcing it to spin out of control.
Bettmann Archive

However, the families of the two children killed on the set later settled a $200 million lawsuit they filed against the defendants, Warner Bros., Burbank Studios and Spielberg, among others, the Associated Press reported in 1987.

The production team was also later found responsible for several labor violations, prompting the introduction of sweeping new safety standards in the industry. They included stricter child actor laws and harsher penalties for violations of safety procedures.

But they failed to end fatalities on movie sets, including some that were eerily similar to Baldwin’s on Thursday, when he was reportedly handed a prop gun that had a live round in the chamber.

Vic Morrow
Vic Morrow was one of three people killed in the “Twilight Zone” accident.
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

In 1984 — just two years after the “Twilight Zone” carnage — Jon-Erik Hexum, 26, fatally shot himself in the head with a gun loaded with a blank on the set of television series “Cover Up.”

Perhaps most famously, Bruce Lee’s 28-year-old son, Brandon Lee, died in 1993 after he was shot in the abdomen with improperly made dummy rounds on the set of “The Crow.”

Renee Shin-Yi Chen (left) and Myca Dinh Le were the child actors who perished in the "Twilight Zone" accident.
Renee Shin-Yi Chen (left) and Myca Dinh Le were the child actors who perished in the “Twilight Zone” accident.

Numerous other actors and stunt specialists have been injured and killed in accidents over the years, too.

Baldwin’s fatal accident on the New Mexico set of “Rust” had many online recalling the 1982 deaths, with one person surmising that the “just horrific” fatality will lead to a “Twilight Zone level fallout.”

“Whatever else comes of it, expect a monster lawsuit or two against the producers,” writer Neil McMahon predicted of the movie, in which Baldwin was a producer as well as star.

Film director John Landis
Director John Landis, along with four others, was eventually found innocent of involuntary manslaughter following a 10-month criminal trial.
Bettmann Archive

“The original Twilight Zone lawsuit was for $200 million and that was nearly 40 years ago,” he wrote.

Screenwriter Bennett Cohen called it “so unbelievably tragic” and “so unbelievably unnecessary.”

“I remember after the Twilight Zone tragedy thinking how trivial film is compared to human life. It’s a nightmare. And it can’t be allowed to happen again,” he wrote.

A distraught Alec Baldwin lingers in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's offices on Camino Justicia after being questioned
A distraught Alec Baldwin lingers in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office Thursday.
Jim Weber/The New Mexican

“I feel for everyone. Including Baldwin.”

With Post wires

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