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"Ninety Years Without Slumbering"
Series:The Twilight Zone (Original Series)
Episode:Season 5, Episode 132 (S05E12)
First Aired:December 20, 1963
Guest Stars:
Lead Character:
Previous Episode:A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain
Next Episode:Ring-a-Ding Girl

"Ninety Years Without Slumbering" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

Episode Details

Opening Narration

"Each man measures his time; some with hope, some with joy, some with fear. But Sam Forstmann measures his allotted time with a grandfather's clock, a unique mechanism whose pendulum swings between life and death, a very special clock that keeps a special kind of time - in the Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

Sam Forstmann is an old man who thinks he will die if his grandfather clock stops ticking. He spends all of his time working on the clock, upsetting his family with his obsession. He speaks with a psychiatrist and reveals his fear. The psychiatrist advises him to sell the clock, which he does, but offers to maintain it for the new owners. Two weeks after he sells the clock, the new owners go on vacation for the weekend, so Sam cannot wind the clock. The clock stops, so he is forced to confront his fear of death (and his "spirit," informing him "It's time to go"). He chooses to stop believing in the clock's "power," declaring instead that he wants to live to see his great-grandchild grow up- so he therefore continues to live (and the "spirit" vanishes). As he tells his expectant granddaughter, "When that clock died, I was born again."

Closing Narration

"Clocks are made by men, God creates time. No man can prolong his allotted hours, he can only live them to the fullest - in this world or in the Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

Next time, we enlist the aid of a very talented scribe, Earl Hamner, Jr. He's written a story called "Ring-a-Ding Girl" and in the milieu of fantasy, this one is strictly a blue ribbon entry. It stars Maggie McNamara and it involves a movie actress, a publicity tour, a strange flight, an airplane, and some occult occurrences designed to send shivers through you like a fast subway train. Next time out on The Twilight Zone, "Ring-a-Ding Girl".


"Ninety Years Without Slumbering" was a drastic reworking of an original script by George Clayton Johnson, "Tick of Time." Most notably, in "Tick of Time" the main character did indeed die when the clock stopped. Johnson did not approve of the changes made to his story, and was credited onscreen under a pseudonym. This episode was Bernard Herrmann's final score for the series.

The name of the episode is taken from a lyric from the song My Grandfathers Clock.

Response and Analysis

Production Companies


  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

External Links