About Herbert F Solow
Future studio mogul Solow graduated from Dartmouth College in 1953, and by way of the now clichéd "mailroom" job at the William Morris Agency in New York City, made his less-than-auspicious entrée into show business. Within three years he became a talent agent, and soon thereafter, moved to NBC to work as a program director for its California National Productions, as well as the company's film division. Not long after, Solow was transferred to Los Angeles in 1960 to continue his work with the peacock network.
When the NBC film division was dissolved, following a change in government regulations of media ownership and consolidation, Solow went to work for CBS, where he was a Director of Daytime Programs for the West Coast. He returned to the NBC fold a year later, when the same position was offered to him.
After several successful years in network programming, Solow took a leap of faith and left his job at NBC to join Desilu Studios, the production company formed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz - who had, for the past decade, epitomized television in its infancy with the instant comedy classic, "I Love Lucy" (CBS, 1951-57). At the time of Solow's arrival, while he worked under veteran CBS programmer Oscar Katz, Desilu had fallen on hard times financially - most particularly with their film division - which led to a re-focusing on what made Desilu possible in the first place - television. After being deemed the best man for the job, Solow was appointed Vice President of Production in 1964 - and the rest was soon-to-be TV history.
A year after moving up in the corporate ladder, he came into contact with little-known producer Gene Roddenberry who was armed with a sci-fi show idea, best described as "wagon train to the stars," entitled, "Star Trek." Ball, who initially misunderstood the show's premise to be about a traveling USO tour set in World War II, was unsure about moving forward on this iffy genre. Solow not only persuaded her to get on board for "Trek," but also to expand her studio to include a variety of different shows. His arguments worked, leaving the foreword-thinking exec to oversee all aspects of the groundbreaking series, including the introduction of such ideas as the "captain's log" narration feature and the reasoning that, if the show appeared to take place in flashback, audiences might not be so put off by its otherworldly aspects. Solow was intimately involved in all other aspects of the show - including casting, writing, etc. This total emersion in his Starship Enterprise "baby" would engender such fascinating themes and endearing characters that the franchise would go on to spawn an outright obsession by "Trekkies" for several feature films, five additional series, and hundreds of books and games - to say nothing of the fabled "Star Trek" conventions.
Lest anyone think Solow's only legacy was the Vulcan mind meld, the executive also oversaw other popular Desilu series such as "Mission: Impossible" and "Mannix." Years later, when Desilu was sold to Gulf & Western, becoming absorbed into Paramount, Solow left the company to join Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as Vice President of Television Production. He oversaw the development and production of "Medical Center," (CBS, 1969-1976) "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," (ABC, 1969-1972) and "Then Came Bronson." (NBC, 1969-1970). Having proven himself on the small screen, Solow moved into film with his appointment as M-G-M's Vice President of Worldwide Motion Picture and Television Production. He reunited with Roddenberry, hiring him to write and produce the feature film, "Pretty Maids All in a Row" (1971). On Solow's watch, M-G-M released three popular features in 1970 - "Ryan's Daughter," "Brewster McCloud," and "Kelly's Heroes" - and a year later, two other hits - "Shaft" and "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight."
Like many producers who had earned their stripes and felt constricted under company rule, Solow left M-G-M in 1973 to produce on his own. He created the short-lived television show, "Man From Atlantis," (CBS, 1977) and went on to produce the feature film "Saving Grace," starring Edward James Olmos, in 1985. As the years progressed, Solow continued to lecture on television and film production, and - as a well-known name in Star Trek fan circles - revisited his most noteworthy legacy by co-writing Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996) with Robert H. Justman, followed a year later by The Star Trek Sketchbook with Yvonne Fern.