Obituary: Herbert F. Solow

Herbert F. Solow, the longtime film and television executive who was responsible for bringing both the original Star Trek and Mission Impossible series to air, died on Thursday, his wife, Dr. Harrison Solow, confirmed. He was 89.

Industry icon and longtime Malibu resident Herbert F. Solow died on Nov. 19, 2020. He was 89.

Although best known as the executive force behind “Star Trek,” Solow’s career was long and varied. A Dartmouth graduate, Solow began his storied career in the mail room of the William Morris Agency, working his way through the ranks to become a talent agent, before departing to develop programming for network television.

As director of daytime programs, West Coast, at both CBS and NBC, Solow supervised the development and production of many shows including “Truth or Consequences”—the show that gave “The Price Is Right” host Bob Barker his start—and Monty Hall’s “Let’s Make a Deal,” which would become one of the most successful game shows of all time.

When Lucille Ball asked him to help her revive her struggling Desilu Studio, Solow left NBC to accept the formidable challenge. It was there that he saw potential in a one-page concept pitched to him about a space western called “Star Trek.” While developing the pilot for “Star Trek,” Solow also exec-produced two other television classics: “Mission: Impossible” and “Mannix.” 

When in 1969, MGM asked him do for them what he had done for Desilu, Solow couldn’t resist the challenge. He quickly developed three new series, “Then Came Bronson,” “Medical Center” and “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” The Variety headline read, “Solow Gives MGM Lion Back Its Roar” as the industry marveled at his ability to transform two major studios in the span of four years. As a result, Solow became vice president of MGM Worldwide Television and Motion Pictures. He went on to develop 25 films for the studio, working with directors David Lean, Blake Edwards, Robert Altman and other icons of the industry. He concurrently ran Boreham Wood Studio in London.