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"The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross"
Series:The Twilight Zone (original series)
Episode:Season 5, Episode 136 (S05E16)
First Aired:January 17, 1964
Guest Stars:
Lead Character:
Previous Episode:The Long Morrow
Next Episode:Number 12 Looks Just Like You

"The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

From the CBS Video Library cover:


Episode Details

Title Sequence

Opening Narration

Confidential personnel file on Salvadore Ross. Personality: a volatile mixture of fury and frustration. Distinguishing physical characteristic: a badly broken hand, which will require emergency treatment at the nearest hospital. Ambition: shows great determination towards self-improvement. Estimate of potential success: a sure bet for a listing in Who's Who in the Twilight Zone.

Episode Summary

Salvadore Ross is a brash, insensitive, ambitious 26-year-old man who craves a lovely young social worker named Leah Maitland. Leah and Ross dated for a time, but she broke off the relationship because their personalities are incompatible. When Ross continues to bother her at her home, Leah firmly refuses his advances and closes her door in his face. Ross slams his fist into the door, breaking his hand and necessitating a trip to the hospital. Ross' roommate is an elderly man with a respiratory infection. Ross sarcastically suggests that he'd like to trade ailments with the old man, who jokingly accepts the trade. The next morning, as if by magic, the old man has a broken hand, while Ross has a cold.

Ross realizes he has a supernatural power to make trades with other people. In exchange for $1,000,000 and a penthouse apartment, Ross sells his youth to an elderly millionaire. As a result, Ross is now very rich but old. He offers a number of young men (beginning with a hotel bellboy) $1,000 for each year of their lives they trade to him. In short order, Ross is 26 again.

Ross is now young, rich, and (thanks to a trade with a college student) well-spoken, impressing Leah enough for her to agree to date him again. However, by the end of the date she is again repulsed by Ross's personality. She wants a man who is as caring and compassionate as her father. Frustrated, Ross approaches Mr. Maitland, who is kind to him despite his disrespectful and condescending demeanor, but does not think he would be a good husband for his daughter. Ross offers him $100,000 to make him and Leah financially secure in exchange for something from Mr. Maitland. When the father asks what he has, Ross says, "Well, it's a little hard to explain..."

The next day, Ross has become warm, compassionate and has won Leah's heart. Ross meets with Mr. Maitland in private to apologize for his previous behavior and asks for his permission to marry Leah. Maitland refuses. Ross implores the older man to show compassion. Maitland coldly replies, "I sold that to you yesterday", and shoots Ross dead.

Closing Narration

The Salvadore Ross program for self-improvement. The all-in-one, sure-fire success course that lets you lick the bully, learn the language, dance the tango and anything else you want to do. Or think you want to do. Money-back guarantee. Offer limited to... the Twilight Zone.

Preview for Next Week's Story

On our next outing, Charles Beaumont comes through with another delightful flight of futuristic fantasy about a society of another time in which you literally can't tell the players without a scorecard - they all appear in an identical mold. Collin Wilcox, Richard Long, and special guest star Suzy Parker appear in a program called "Number 12 Looks Just Like You". I hope you're around to catch the similarity.

Response and Analysis


Critical Response





Notes and Annotations

Technical Information



Production Companies


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


Technical Specs


Cast Connections

Crew Connections

Errors and Goofs

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

See Also

Notes and References


  1. CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #? "?/?"; UPC: ?, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)


External Links