Herbert F. “Herb” Solow, who was an executive at Desilu Productions, who took on Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch for Star Trek and also held senior positions at several showbiz companies, has passed away. He was 88 years old. His wife, Dr. Harrison Solow confirmed the news to multiple sources.
The many Hollywood jobs in his long time included senior positions at MGM, Paramount, Desilu, CBS, NBC and Hanna-Barbera. He was also an agent for William Morris, a television creator, writer, producer, and writer. Along with the original Star Trek, Solow was instrumental in dramas of the 1960s and 1970s such as Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Medical Center, Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Then Came Bronson and Man From Atlantis.
He was also the director of programming and production for NBC Film Division and worked with famous directors such as David Lean, Robert Altman, Herb Ross, Blake Edwards, Paul Mazursky and Michelangelo Antonioni.
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Solow was born on December 14, 1931 and began his industrial career in the William Morris Agency mailroom. He moved to NBC and worked in international sales before becoming Head of Daytime on the network’s west coast. He later became program director at Desilu and worked with its co-founder, Lucille Ball. Eventually he was promoted to VP and Executive in Charge of Production. During our time as Program Director at Desilu, when we started promoting potential new TV shows.
“I’ve sent feelers to a number of agents,” he said in a 2008 sit-down for FOundation television academy’s “The Interviews” series. “You sent different people to me. The first to come in was a tall, clumsy Texan who mumbled into my office and said, “I’m Gene Roddenberry. … He had a piece of paper – all crumpled up – and said, ‘I have an idea. ‘… It was like a lot of other shows. There were a couple of things that I found very attractive. It was Buck Rogers. I mean it was Flash Gordon. “
No, it was Star Trek and a legend was born. See how he talks about it here:
Solow would continue to lead the development of Star Trek, although the final green light came from its boss: Lucille Ball. She stood up for the show even after its first pilot was bombed.
In “The Interviews” he also spoke about the legacy of his most famous series: “In the service of the jury, a woman appears in her Star Trek uniform. The judge says, “What is that?” And she says, “It symbolizes the truth.” Every now and then I look around and say, “What have I done?” Because people come up with the strangest things. But again, [Star Trek] has helped many people. There is a balance. A lot of the astronauts … are astronauts because of Star Trek. People went into science because of Star Trek. People changed their lives and had better lives through Star Trek. “
In addition to Desilu and NBC Films, Solow’s countless industry jobs throughout his long career have included VP and Head of Global Film and Television Production at MGM, VP of Paramount Pictures Television, VP and Head of Desilu Studios, VP of Toon Studios Hanna-Barbara, and Director of Daily Programs for NBC and CBS.
He worked with Elvis Presley on the 1970s feature documentary Elvis: The Way It Is, and later created and wrote Man from Atlantis with a Patrick Duffy in front of Dallas, which aired for a season on NBC from 1977-78.
Solow was also a writer who wrote Inside Star Trek in 1996: The Real Story, which is considered one of the most definitive books on the franchise. The following year he also published the Star Trek Sketchbook.
In his later years, Solow worked as an independent producer, director, writer and film consultant.
Survivors are his wife Dr. Harrison Solow.