Herbie J Pilato: I owe my career to David Gerrold

A moment from David Gerrold's first home run
A moment from David Gerrold’s first home run

by Herbie J Pilato

Decades ago, when I was just a young lad growing up in Rochester, New York, I used to frequent with my parents the Wegmans supermarket in Gates Chili, New York, a suburb of Rochester.

Today, Wegmans is a mega-store that is known around the country (and in some parts of the world!) as one of the finest grocery establishments in existence.

It was then (circa 1970), too, if on a somewhat smaller scale

That said, one Saturday morning (and we’d always go to Wegmans on Saturday morning), I found myself in the magazine/books section of the now-famous store.

I noticed a book, titled, The World of Star Trek, which was written by David Gerrold, the genius behind classic Trek episodes, such as “The Trouble with Tribbles,” and the creator of Land of the Lost, one of the finest science-fiction TV shows that ever aired (in daytime or prime-time).

The World of Star Trek!  I couldn’t believe it.  There it was…an entire book about one of my favorite TV shows, next to Bewitched.

At that moment, I knew I had to have the book.

So, while my parents were elsewhere shopping in the store, I rushed to the cashier with The World of Star Trek in my sweaty little hands.  I think my heart might have even been palpitating.

Upon arrival at the cashier, I realized the book was 90 cents.  But I only had 80 cents.

I was distraught.

I looked around, frantically, for my Mom and Dad, and they were no where in sight.

I panicked some more, and said to myself, “I HAVE to have this book!”

As if Heaven itself opened up, suddenly, a kindly senior woman in a wheelchair in line in front of me noticed my plight.  Within seconds, she reached into her purse, called out to me – with a dime in her hand, and said, “Here ya’ go, Honey.  You now have enough money now to buy your book.”

I was stunned and so very thrilled.

I purchased the book, and went to a bench in the front of the store, and started reading it immediately, while I waited for my parents.

About ten minutes later, I reconnected with my Mom (who wasn’t too happy that I took money from a stranger) and my Dad (who didn’t care).

We walked out of the store, found our car (1969 green Pontiac Catalina), put the groceries in the trunk and, with The World of Star Trek still in my hands, I got in the back the seat, continued to devour as much of it as I could during the ride home.

Upon arrival at our house, some twenty minutes later, I ran inside and devoured it completely within a few hours.

Upon finishing it, I said to myself, “One day, I’m going to write about Bewitched the way this author wrote about Star Trek.”

And a little over twenty years later, I did just that.  My first Bewitched Book was published by Dell in 1992, followed by two different revisions as Bewitched Forever.

Over the next two decades, I went on to have published The Kung Fu Book of Caine, The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom, The Bionic Book, Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On, NBC & ME: Life As A Page In A Book, The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery, Twitch Upon A Star, and Glamour, Gidgets and the Girl Next Door.

Not only that, I formed The Classic TV Preservation Society (a nonprofit dedicated to the positive influence of classic television shows), and began work as a writer/producer for television, with shows like Bewitched: The E! True Hollywood Story, A&E’s Biography of Elizabeth Montgomery, Bravo’s hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters, Syfy’s short-lived, but critically-acclaimed Siography series (about The Twilight Zone, and more), and TLC’s Behind the Fame specials on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues, and LA. Law.

More books are in the works, as are TV shows and feature films, scripted and unscripted, reality and fiction, documentaries, and narrative tales.

And it’s all because of a kindly, generous senior woman – and David Gerrold.

Suffice it to say, every good thing that ever happened in my career transpired because of the inspiration I received from Mr. Gerrold.

Hopefully, over these last few years, maybe I in turn have inspired other young writers with my work.

Maybe even with this post.

Herbie J Pilato is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about him HERE.

Author: Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life