The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross

The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross

Infobox Television episode
Title = The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross
Series = The Twilight Zone

Caption = Don Gordon as Salvadore Ross
Season = 5
Episode = 136
Airdate = January 17, 1964
Production =2612
Writer = Jerry McNeely
(Based on the story by Henry Slesar.)
Director = Don Siegel
Guests = Don Gordon : Salvadore Ross
Gail Kobe : Leah Maitland
Vaughn Taylor : Mr. Maitland
Music = Stock
Episode list = List of Twilight Zone episodes
Prev = The Long Morrow
Next = Number 12 Looks Just Like You

"The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Opening Narration


Salvadore Ross is a brutal, ambitious young man who loves an idealistic social worker named Leah Maitland. Leah has great affection for Ross, but she could never marry a man so lacking in compassion. Moreover, Leah's father detests Ross. Telling him that the relationship is finished, Leah slams her door in his face, and Ross slams his fist into the door, necessitating a trip to the hospital because of a broken hand.

Ross's 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 mild cold.

Ross comes to realize that he has a supernatural power to make magical trades with other people. In exchange for a large amount of cash and a penthouse apartment, Ross sells his youth to an elderly millionaire. As a result, Ross is now very rich but very old. But he finds an easy way to regain his youth: he offers a large number of young men (beginning with a hotel bellboy) a small amount of cash for just one year of their lives. The boys accept the money, thinking Ross is just crazy (and since none of them feels any different after aging just one year, none thinks anything has really happened). In short order, Ross is young again, and still rich.

With his new-found wealth, he attempts to win Leah's hand again, and again, she refuses. She wants a man with a heart, a man with the compassion her father possesses.

Frustrated, Ross approaches Leah's father, and offers to make him financially secure for the rest of his life. When the father skeptically asks how, Ross says hesitantly, "Well, it's kind of hard to explain..."

Sometime later, we see that Ross has become a warm, compassionate fellow who has won Leah's heart. Ross, in consideration of Mr. Maitland's feelings, meets with him in private and asks his assent to the marriage. However, he's failed to reckon with one thing: Leah's father, who'd despised Ross to begin with, no longer has any kindness or mercy in his heart, since he'd traded it all to Ross. Incensed at Ross's impertinence, the compassionless old man pulls out a gun and kills him.

Closing Narration

Preview for Next Week's Story


*DeVoe, Bill. (2008). "Trivia from The Twilight Zone". Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
*Grams, Martin. (2008). "The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic". Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090

External links

*imdb title|id=0734675|title=The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross
* [ episode guide]

Twilight Zone links

*The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series)
*Episode List
*Season 5

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