Herbert F. Solow, the producer responsible for selling Star Trek to NBC, has died. He was 89 years old. Lucille Ball hired Solow to help revive Desilu Studios after she divorced Desi Arnaz. While he worked at Desilu Studios, Solow produced Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix. He sold those last two shows to CBS, however, the network turned down Star Trek for being too similar to another sci-fi show already airing on its stations, Lost in Space (ironically, CBS -- through a series of corporate mergers and buyouts -- later came to own the Star Trek franchise). Solow took Star Trek to former employer NBC, where Star Trek: The Original Series had its first run.
Solow backed creator Gene Roddenberry's original vision for Star Trek and helped him refine the series's pitch while other Desilu executives warned the show would be a financial disaster. Eventually, Solow and Roddenberry proved passionate enough to convince Ball to become personally involved in seeing the series thrive
Later in his life, he wrote books about what it was like working on Star Trek, including Inside Star Trek and The Star Trek Sketchbook. He died on Thursday, his wife confirmed to Variety.
Solow made vital contributions to Star Trek: The Original Series. He convinced Roddenberry to make Spock lock less Satanic by removing the character's tail and changing his skin color from red to yellow while keeping the pointed ears. Solow told the Carpe Articulum Literary Review in 2010 that it was his idea to use stardates to cast each episode as a flashback from Captain Kirk's log. "I made a key change whereby we treated every episode, the whole series, as a flashback and invented Star Date," he said. "A flashback is very interesting. People become kind of relaxed with the characters and the story knowing what they were watching had already happened. We're not dealing with the future, absolutely not, we're dealing with telling a story from the past. The Captain's Log setup each show. Bottom-line, telling the story from the past was a huge plus."
After Gulf-Western purchased Desilu, Solow left the studio to work for MGM. While there, he produced series including Then Came Bronson, Medical Center, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is. He later returned to sci-fi, developing the series Man from Atlantis starring Patrick Duffy, which aired on NBC.
Solow is survived by his wife, Dr. Harrison Solow.