Winters actually played a legendary pool player based on Minnesota Fats. It was a great episode of an outstanding series, and apparently Jack Klugman and Burgess Meredith tied for the record of starring in four episodes each.
Originally Posted by NJCardFan
It was called "A Game of Pool", but I looked it up to be sure. Here's the plot synopsis:
Originally Posted by Bailey
A Game of Pool (1961)Johnson's script originally featured an alternate ending in which Jesse loses the game. Seeing that Jesse is bedazzled that he has lost a life-or-death game and is still alive, Fats explains that he will die "as all second raters die: you'll be buried and forgotten without me touching you. If you'd beaten me, you'd have lived forever." This ending was eventually filmed when this episode was remade in 1989, during the first revival of The Twilight Zone. It also featured a different closing narration:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"A Game of Pool"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Original air date October 13, 1961
Jack Klugman: Jesse Cardiff
Jonathan Winters: Fats Brown
"A Game of Pool" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. According to Serling, it's "the story of the best pool player living and the best pool player dead."
It is after hours at Lister's Pool Room in Chicago, and once more pool shark Jesse Cardiff is alone, polishing his pool game. Jesse bitterly muses that he would be considered the greatest pool player of all time, if it were not for the memory of the late Fats Brown overshadowing him. "I'd give anything, anything to play him one game!" he declares aloud.
"At your service!" comes a sudden voice from the corner of the room. It is indeed James Howard Brown "known to [his] friends as Fats" who has been dead for 15 years, but who has come from the afterlife to answer Jesse's challenge. Fats tells Jesse it is time for him to put his money where his mouth is and play a game of pool to see who the best truly is. But Fats ups the stakes: If Jesse wins, he will indeed be acknowledged as the greatest. If he loses, it means his life.
Jesse is undaunted, and the ultimate high stakes pool game begins. All throughout the game, Fats laments that Jesse has done nothing with his life but play pool. Jesse ignores Fats, convinced that he is just trying to distract him from the game. When it comes down to one final, easy shot for Jesse to win the title, Fats warns him that he does not understand the burdens that come with being the best ever. Jesse ignores him and sinks the shot. He exults in his victory; he is now the best ever.
Fats's only response is to thank Jesse for beating him. Jesse is angered, declaring that Fats is a sore loser. Only years later, after he has died, does Jesse finally realize what Fats was warning him of. Jesse, as the new pool champion, is obliged to spend his afterlife defending his title, going from pool room to lonely pool room (his next destination: Mason's Pool Hall, Sandusky, Ohio), to play against challenger after challenger, just as Fats had to do until he finally lost. Meanwhile, Fats, finally free of his obligations as champion, has gone fishing.
Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime...and departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time, on the Earth, as we know it, and...in the Twilight Zone.
That alternate ending is pretty good, too.