Herbert F. Solow

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Herbert F. Solow discusses his start in the business in the mail room at the William Morris Agency and his move to NBC where he became involved in foreign sales. He describes his rise to Program Director for NBC's Films Division and his role as Head of NBC Daytime on the West Coast. He recalls the effects of the quiz show scandals and his time at Desilu Productions working with Lucille Ball, first as the Program Director and later as the Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production. Solow recounts the challenges of producing both Mission: Impossible and Star Trek concurrently, and details the process involved in producing Star Trek. He comments on the show's far-reaching success, the overwhelming popularity of "Mr. Spock," and the long-lasting impact the show has had around the world. Solow speaks of how he became the Vice President of Paramount Pictures, later moving to MGM, and eventually starting his own company. He addresses misconceptions surrounding Star Trek that prompted his book about the show,and discusses his contributions to Mannix, Medical Center, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. He recalls working with Elvis Presley on the documentary, Elvis: That's the Way It Is, and talks about the projects he produced through his own production company. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview in Westlake Village, CA on May 26, 2008.

" ... On jury duty, a woman shows up in her 'Star Trek' uniform. The judge says, 'What is this?'  And she says, 'It symbolizes truth.' Every once in awhile, I look around and I say, 'What have I done?' Because people come up with the weirdest things. But again, ['Star Trek'] has helped a lot of people. There's a balance to it. Many of the astronauts ... are astronauts because of 'Star Trek.' People have gone into science because of 'Star Trek.' People have changed their lives and live a better life because of 'Star Trek.'" 

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Herbert F. Solow on how he first heard about Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on preview audiences' response to seeing Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on his impression of the original idea for "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on how NBC didn't initially want "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on working with Martin Landau on Mission: Impossible
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early childhood influences; on when he first saw television; on his first job out of college at the William Morris Agency; on his subsequent move to NBC; on his involvement with foreign sales
On lessons he learned from working at the William Morris Agency; on his first title at NBC; on becoming the program director of the NBC Films division; on his involvement with many series for NBC; on his deal with John Wayne; on becoming the West Coast Program Director of Daytime Programs for CBS; on becoming the head of Daytime for NBC on the West Coast; on his recollections of the impact of the quiz show scandals; on anecdotes of behind-the-scenes on game shows including Video Village, Name that Tune, and Dotto
On the state of NBC Daytime, upon his return; on his philosophy about scheduling Daytime during his time at NBC; on various game shows with which he was involved, including Truth or Consequences, Let's Make a Deal, This is Your Life, and Jeopardy; on selling the World Series to Japan; on West Coast Daytime programming for NBC; on his experience with the influence of Daytime Television on its viewing audience
On what prompted his departure from NBC; on his work at Desilu Productions; on the three studios that Desilu owned; on the history of Desilu Studios

Chapter 2

On working with Lucille Ball at Desilu Productions as the program director; on his impressions of Desi Arnaz; on the effect that Desi's departure from Desilu had upon the workings of the studio; on his work style; on being named Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production at Desilu; on how he maintained the balance of power with Lucille Ball
On how he first heard about Star Trek; on his impressions of Star Trek; on the advent of color television and its impact; on the development process for Star Trek; on hurdles he had to overcome during the development for Star Trek; on his deal with NBC for the production of Star Trek; on the decision to make Star Trek a two-hour TV movie; on hiring the cast for Star Trek
On Brigg's Squad whose name was changed to Mission: Impossible; on hiring the cast and crew for the pilot of Mission: Impossible; on the concept and filming for the pilot of Mission: Impossible; on working with Martin Landau as a guest star on the show; on funding to produce Mission: Impossible; on the creation of Mission: Impossible's score and the origins of the main theme for the show; on selling both Star Trek and Mission: Impossible  in the same week; on navigating the challenges of producing two shows concurrently, whose episodes required a large amount of production design; on financing both Mission: Impossible and Star Trek once both were picked up as series; on the Star Trek two-hour pilot; on how the subsequent one-hour pilot for Star Trek came about; on additional casting for Star Trek; on hiring Alexander "Sandy" Courage as the composer for Star Trek
On hiring cast and crew, including William Shatner, for Star Trek; on taking the first episode to a preview house; on preview audiences' responses to Star Trek; on negotiations regarding the character of "Mr. Spock;" on the challenges of filming a special effects heavy show like Star Trek on a weekly basis; on the audiences' response to "Mr. Spock"

Chapter 3

On the casting for Star Trek; on the transition to "Mr. Spock" becoming the second lead on the show; on the format in which the pilots were aired; on significant changes between the first pilot and the second pilot; on approaching and presenting all the characters as equals; on the impact of the show upon viewers; on the importance of music on Star Trek; on memories of the Emmy Awards; on the writers of Star Trek; on the main contributors to Star Trek; on the cast and crew of Star Trek; on the move to make Star Trek a mixed race cast; on having a Russian character on the show; on his promotion at Desilu; on Lucille Ball's response to his promotion
On how Leonard Nimoy's popularity as "Spock" affected the rest of the cast and crew; on working with Martin Landau; on his opinion of Star Trek; on his interest in understanding the director's perspective on a show; on the collaborative effort of making a television show; on his favorite episode of Star Trek; on the sale of Desilu to Gulf & Western; on Gulf and Western being absorbed by Paramount; on becoming vice president of Paramount Pictures; on his subsequent departure; on his move to MGM and acquiring three TV shows for the studio; on how the name Desilu was replaced by Paramount; on the effect his departure from Paramount had on the cast and crew of Star Trek
On the legacy of Desilu; on early talks of doing a Star Trek movie and how the film eventually came about; on the success of the syndication of Star Trek; on the spin-off series that lasted for seven seasons; on  the phenomenon that Star Trek has become; on the progression of his career and setting up his own company; on writing a book with Robert Justman about Star Trek; on the myths and misinformation that is spread about Star Trek; on his contributions and impressions of the Star Trek conventions; on the Star Trek sketch for Saturday Night Live; on the impact that Star Trek has had on people's lives; on his memories of the cancellation of the show
On the legacy of Star Trek; on his involvement with other TV shows like Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Medical Center, Courtship of Eddie's Father and Then Came Bronson; on Bruce Gellar as a producer on Mission: Impossible; on Steven Hill in the role of "Mr. Briggs" on Mission: Impossible; on finding a new lead actor for Mission: Impossible; on the head of programming's opposition to Mission: Impossible; on Mission: Impossible being renewed;  on the casting of Peter Graves as the new lead for the show

Chapter 4

On Peter Graves in the lead role on Mission: Impossible; on the origins and development of the TV show, Mannix; on the subsequent seven year run of the show; on hiring Lalo Schifrin to work with Bruce Geller on the theme song for Mannix; on the development and success of The Courtship of Eddie's Father at MGM; on hiring the cast for The Courtship of Eddie's Father; on how he wanted to make the show more real to the audience; on the Emmy win for The Courtship of Eddie's Father; on the score for The Courtship of Eddie's Fathe r; on the long running hit show Medical Center; on the power of television; on making the pilot for Then Came Bronson; on selling Then Came Bronson to NBC; on the score for Then Came Bronson; on the challenges of filming the show on location
On producing a documentary, Elvis: That's the Way It Is, about Elvis Presley; on the documentary's success; on working with Elvis Presley; on why he left MGM; on work produced through his own production company; on developing and producing Man from Atlantis; on his proudest career achievement; on advice he would give to an aspiring television executive; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

$64,000 Question

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Herbert F. Solow on his recollections of the shows involved with the quiz show scandals

Bonanza

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Herbert F. Solow on how Bonanza was shot in color

Courtship of Eddie's Father, The

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Herbert F. Solow on the development and success of the show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Danger Is My Business

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Herbert F. Solow on his involvement with the series, Danger is My Business

Dotto

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Herbert F. Solow on his recollections of the shows involved with the quiz show scandals

Edge of Night, The

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Herbert F. Solow on a funny story involving Edge of Night actor, Joseph Campanella

Foreign Intrigue

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Herbert F. Solow on his involvement in the show Foreign Intrigue

Hopalong Cassidy

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Herbert F. Solow on selling Hopalong Cassidy

Howdy Doody

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Herbert F. Solow on his recollections of Howdy Doody

I Love Lucy

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Herbert F. Solow on the change from I Love Lucy to The Lucy Show

Jeopardy!

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Herbert F. Solow on his initial impressions of Merv Griffin's idea for Jeopardy!

Let's Make a Deal

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Herbert F. Solow on working on Let's Make a Deal

Lucy Show, The

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Herbert F. Solow on the change from I Love Lucy to The Lucy Show
Herbert F. Solow on memories of working with Lucille Ball and The Lucy Show

Man From Atlantis

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Herbert F. Solow on how Man From Atlantis was created

Mannix

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Herbert F. Solow on getting Mannix on the air
Herbert F. Solow on the origins of the show Mannix and its long-running success

Medical Center

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Chad Everett for the show Medical Center and the show's long run of seven years

Mickey Rooney Show, The

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Herbert F. Solow on selling his first show, The Mickey Rooney Show

Mission: Impossible

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Herbert F. Solow on the development of Mission: Impossible and how it became a pilot and was turned into a series
Herbert F. Solow on the legacy of Desilu's productions, including Mission: Impossible and The Untouchables
Herbert F. Solow on Bruce Gellar as a producer on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on Steven Hill as the original "Mr. Briggs" on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on Peter Graves being cast as the new lead on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on working with Peter Graves on Mission: Impossible

Name That Tune

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Herbert F. Solow on how unpopular contestants were handled on the show, Name That Tune

Saturday Night Live

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Herbert F. Solow on the Star Trek sketch for Saturday Night Live

Star Trek

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Herbert F. Solow on how he first heard about Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on the development process for Star Trek and initial hurdles which occurred and how it became a pilot
Herbert F. Solow on the two pilots for Star Trek and how it became a series
Herbert F. Solow on casting for Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on his favorite episode of Star Trek

Star Trek: "The City on the Edge of Forever"

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Herbert F. Solow on his favorite episode of Star Trek

Then Came Bronson

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Herbert F. Solow on how Then Came Bronson was created

This Is Your Life

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Herbert F. Solow on how he appeared on This is Your Life to discuss Greg Morris

Truth or Consequences

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Herbert F. Solow on working on Truth or Consequences

Untouchables, The

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Herbert F. Solow on the legacy of Desilu's productions, including Mission: Impossible and The Untouchables

Video Village

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Herbert F. Solow on the game show Video Village

World Series

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Herbert F. Solow on selling the World Series to Japan
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Herbert F. Solow on NBC's response to "Mr. Spock's" ears on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on how NBC didn't initially want "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on his impression of the original idea for "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on Leonard Nimoy's obvious popularity and "Mr. Spock" becoming the second lead on Star Trek

Emmy Awards

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Herbert F. Solow on memories of Mission: Impossible and Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on the Emmy win for the TV show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Pop Culture

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Alexander "Sandy" Courage to be the composer on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on NBC's response to "Mr. Spock's" ears on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on how NBC didn't initially want "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on his impression of the original idea for "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on Leonard Nimoy's obvious popularity and "Mr. Spock" becoming the second lead on Star Trek

Quiz Show Scandals

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Herbert F. Solow on his recollections of the quiz show scandals

TV Theme Songs

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Alexander "Sandy" Courage to be the composer on Star Trek

World Series

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Herbert F. Solow on selling the World Series to Japan
Professions

Television Executive

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Herbert F. Solow on becoming head of West Coast Daytime television for NBC
Herbert F. Solow the importance of an executive -in- charge, understanding the crew's various responsibilities
Herbert F. Solow on his proudest career achievement
Herbert F. Solow on advice he would give to an aspiring television executive
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Herbert F. Solow on the development of Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on the legacy of Desilu's productions, including Mission: Impossible and The Untouchables
Herbert F. Solow on the quality of Bruce Gellar's work on Mission: Impossible and his contribution to the show
Herbert F. Solow on Steven Hill as the original "Mr. Briggs" on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on Peter Graves being cast as the new lead on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on working with Peter Graves on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on the long running success of the TV show Mannix
Herbert F. Solow on a crowd's reaction to Greg Morris from Mission: Impossible

Comedy Series

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Herbert F. Solow on the change from I Love Lucy to The Lucy Show
Herbert F. Solow on working with Lucille Ball on The Lucy Show
Herbert F. Solow on the Star Trek sketch on Saturday Night Live
Herbert F. Solow on the success of the show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Herbert F. Solow on the legacy of Desilu's productions, including Mission: Impossible and The Untouchables

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Herbert F. Solow on Daytime Serials as a mainstay for NBC

Drama Series

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Herbert F. Solow on how Then Came Bronson was created

Game Shows

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Herbert F. Solow on working with the game shows for NBC

Medical Dramas

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Herbert F. Solow on the success of the show, Medical Center

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Herbert F. Solow on producing the documentary, Elvis: That's the Way It Is

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Herbert F. Solow on how he first heard about Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on the development process and eventual audience response to Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on how The Man From Atlantis was created

Sports

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Herbert F. Solow on selling the World Series to Japan

Western Series

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Herbert F. Solow on how Bonanza was shot in color
People

Desi Arnaz

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Herbert F. Solow on impressions of Desi Arnaz
Herbert F. Solow on his impressions of Desi Arnaz and on Desi's departure from Desilu Productions

Barbara Bain

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Barbara Bain on Mission: Impossible

Lucille Ball

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Lucille Ball and the history of Desilu Studios
Herbert F. Solow on working with Lucille Ball
Herbert F. Solow on Lucille Ball's response to Herbert F. Solow's successful new shows

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

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Herbert F. Solow on Majel Barrett being cast on Star Trek

Jack Barry

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Herbert F. Solow on his recollections of the quiz show scandals

Joe Behar

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Joe Behar for Let's Make a Deal

Bill Bixby

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Robert F. Solow on hiring Bill Bixby, Miyoshi Umeki and Brandon Cruz for The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Robert Butler

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Robert Butler on Star Trek

Joseph Campanella

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Herbert F. Solow on a funny story involving Edge of Night actor, Joseph Campanella

Mike Connors

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Mike Connors on Mannix

Gene Coon

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Gene Coon to work with the writers on Star Trek

Alexander Courage

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Alexander "Sandy" Courage to be the composer on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on the main contributors to Star Trek: Bob Justman, Alexander Courage, Matt Jeffries, What Chang and Bill Tice

Wally Cox

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Wally Cox on Mission: Impossible

Brandon Cruz

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Robert F. Solow on hiring Miyoshi Umeki and Brandon Cruz for The Courtship of Eddie's Father

James Doohan

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Herbert F. Solow on working with members of the Star Trek cast: George Takei, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Walter Koenig

Patrick Duffy

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Herbert F. Solow on his meeting with Patrick Duffy for Man From Atlantis

Don Durgin

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Herbert F. Solow on presenting the pilot for Then Came Bronson to Don Durgin, Walter Scott and Herbert Schlosser at NBC

Ralph Edwards

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Herbert F. Solow on the interview show, Truth or Consequences
Herbert F. Solow on how he appeared on This is Your Life to discuss Greg Morris

Harlan Ellison

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Herbert F. Solow on Harlan Ellison's contribution to Star Trek; on how Ellison brought in Teddy Sturgeon, George Clayton Johnson and Dick Matheson to write on Star Trek

Morris Engel

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Morris Engel

Chad Everett

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Chad Everett for the show Medical Center and the show's long run of seven years

Dorothy Fontana

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Herbert F. Solow on Dorothy Fontana's contribution to Star Trek; on Dorothy's nom de plume "D.C. Fontana"

Bruce Geller

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Herbert F. Solow on the development of Mission: Impossible with Bruce Geller
Herbert F. Solow on Bruce Gellar as a producer on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on having Bruce Geller produce Mannix

James Goldstone

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring James Goldstone to direct Star Trek

Peter Graves

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Herbert F. Solow on Peter Graves being cast as the new lead on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on working with Peter Graves on Mission: Impossible

Merv Griffin

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Merv Griffin

Monty Hall

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Herbert F. Solow on the talent of Monty Hall

Merrill Heatter

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Merrill Heatter and the sale of the World Series to Japan

Steven Hill

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Steven Hill on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on Steven Hill as the original "Mr. Briggs" on Mission: Impossible

Jeffrey Hunter

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Jeffrey Hunter as the lead in the first Star Trek  pilot
Herbert F. Solow on how Jeffrey Hunter turned down the lead role in Star Trek

Matt Jefferies

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Herbert F. Solow on working with production designer, Matt Jeffries on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on the main contributors to Star Trek: Bob Justman, Alexander Courage, Matt Jeffries, What Chang and Bill Tice

Robert Justman

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Robert Justman on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on the main contributors to Star Trek: Bob Justman, Alexander Courage, Matt Jeffries, What Chang and Bill Tice
Herbert F. Solow on his reasons for writing a Star Trek book with Robert Justman
Herbert F. Solow on working with Robert Justman on Then Came Bronson

DeForest Kelley

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring DeForest Kelley on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on working with members of the Star Trek cast: George Takei, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

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Herbert F. Solow on working with members of the Star Trek cast: George Takei, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Walter Koenig

James Komack

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Hrbert F. Solow on hiring James Komack to revise Richard Powell's script for The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Bernard L. Kowalski

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Bernard Kowalski on Mission: Impossible

Martin Landau

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Martin Landau on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on working with Martin Landau and Peter  Lupus

Peter Lupus

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Peter Lupus on the Mission: Impossible pilot

Greg Morris

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Herbert F. Solow on how he appeared on This is Your Life to discuss Greg Morris
Herbert F. Solow on hiring Greg Morris on Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on a crowd's reaction to Greg Morris from Mission: Impossible

Gary Morton

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Herbert F. Solow on his impressions of Lucille Ball's second husband, Gary Morton

Nichelle Nichols

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Nichelle Nichols

Leonard Nimoy

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Leonard Nimoy for Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on how NBC didn't initially want "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on Leonard Nimoy's obvious popularity and "Mr. Spock" becoming the second lead on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on working with Leonard Nimoy
Herbert F. Solow on negotiations with Leonard Nimoy and how salary demands and the popularity of "Mr. Spock" affected the dynamics of the production
Herbert F. Solow on his conversation with Leonard Nimoy regarding the cancellation of Star Trek

Tom Parker

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Herbert F. Solow on his recollections of Elvis Presley and his agent, Tom Parker

Michael Parks

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Michael Parks on Then Came Bronson

Elvis Presley

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Elvis Presley on the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is

Christopher Reeve

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Herbert F. Solow on his meeting with Christopher Reeve for Man from Atlantis

Carl Reiner

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Herbert F. Solow on a memorable quote from Carl Reiner

Don Rickles

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Herbert F. Solow on his partnership with Don Rickles

Edward G. Robinson

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Edward G. Robinson for the pilot of Medical Center

Gene Roddenberry

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Herbert F. Solow on his initial meeting with Gene Roddenberry about Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on Gene Roddenberry's influence in casting Majel Barrett in Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on Roddenbery's work with the writers of Star Trek

Dennis Saunders

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Dennis Saunders, Jim Aubrey, Lucien Ballard on Elvis: That's the Way It Is

Lalo Schifrin

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Lalo Schifrin to create the score for Mission: Impossible
Herbert F. Solow on Lalo Schifrin's work on the theme song for the show Mannix

Herbert S. Schlosser

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Herbert F. Solow on his interactions with Herb Schlosser
Herbert F. Solow on working with Herbert S. Schlosser on Then Came Bronson

William Shatner

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring William Shatner to star on Star Trek
Herbert F. Solow on his impressions of William Shatner

Martin Sheen

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Herbert F. Solow on hiring Martin Sheen for the pilot of Then Came Bronson

Allan Sherman

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Herbert F. Solow recalls the success of writer, Allan Sherman with the release of his record of parody songs

Al Simon

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Al Simon

Mayo Simon

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Mayo Simon
Herbert F. Solow on working with Mayo Simon on Man From Atlantis

Frank Sinatra

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Frank Sinatra on Dirty Dingus McGee at MGM

George Takei

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Herbert F. Solow on working with members of the Star Trek cast: George Takei, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Walter Koenig

Akim Tamiroff

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Herbert F. Solow on working with Akim Tamiroff, Garry Merrill, and Bonnie Bedelia on Then Came Bronson

Grant Tinker

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Herbert F. Solow on how Tinker helped him move into the role of West Coast head of Daytime television for NBC

Miyoshi Umeki

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Robert F. Solow on hiring Miyoshi Umeki and Brandon Cruz for The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Grace Lee Whitney

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Herbert F. Solow on working with members of the Star Trek cast: George Takei, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Walter Koenig

Robert Wise

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Herbert F. Solow on Robert Wise directing the Star Trek movie

All Interviews

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