Gilbert Ralston

Gilbert Alexander Ralston (January 5, 1912 – March 18, 1999) was a British-American screenwriter,[1] journalist and author. He was a television producer in the 1950s and a screenwriter in the 1960s. He created the television series The Wild Wild West and wrote scripts for Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Ben Casey, I Spy,[1] Hawaii Five-O, and The Naked City. He wrote the screenplay for the 1971 movie Willard,[2] which was based on the 1968 novel Ratman's Notebooks written by Stephen Gilbert.[2]

Gilbert Ralston
Gilbert Alexander Ralston

(1912-01-05)January 5, 1912
DiedMarch 18, 1999(1999-03-18) (aged 87)

Early life and careerEdit

Ralston was born in 1912 in Newcastle, Ireland (now Northern Ireland) in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

In the 1950s he worked as a television producer in the United States. In the 1960s, he worked as a television screenwriter, according to the IMDb website. Willard was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1972 for Best Motion Picture.

He died on March 18, 1999, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, of congestive heart failure.

Television screenwriterEdit

Ralston was a screenwriter for many of the top television shows in the United States in the 1960s. He wrote the 1967 Star Trek episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?", which is a line from the 1821 elegiac poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais. He also wrote scripts for Ben Casey, Laredo, I Spy, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke, The Naked City, Combat, Hawaii Five-O, and The Wild Wild West

Wild Wild WestEdit

Ralston helped create the television series The Wild Wild West and wrote the pilot episode, "The Night of the Inferno". In 1997, aged 85, Ralston sued Warner Brothers over the upcoming motion picture based on the series. (Wild Wild West was released in 1999.) In a deposition, Ralston explained that in 1964 he was approached by producer Michael Garrison who '"said he had an idea for a series, good commercial idea, and wanted to know if I could glue the idea of a western hero and a James Bond type together in the same show."[3]

Ralston said he then created the Civil War characters, the format, the story outline and nine drafts of the script that was the basis for the television series. It was his idea, for example, to have a secret agent named Jim West who would perform secret missions for President Ulysses S. Grant.

Ralston's experience brought to light a common Hollywood practice of the 1950s and 60s when television writers who helped create popular series allowed producers or studios to take credit for a show, thus depriving the writers of any royalties.

Outcome of court caseEdit

Ralston died in 1999, before his suit was settled. Warner Brothers ended-up paying Ralston's family between $600,000 and $1.5 million.[4]



Year Film Credit Notes
1968 Kona Coast Written By
1971 The Hunting Party Written By
Willard Screenplay By Based on the novel "Ratman's Notebooks" by "Stephen Gilbert"
1972 Ben Written By
1976 Special Delivery Written By


Year TV Series Credit Notes
1952-53 Your Jeweler's Showcase Producer 28 Episodes
1952-54 Cavalcade of America Producer 14 Episodes
1953 General Electric Theater Producer 12 Episodes
1955-57 Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion Producer, Executive Producer 37 Episodes
1957 High Adventure with Lowell Thomas Producer
1961 Bus Stop Writer 1 Episode
1961-62 Naked City Writer 7 Episodes
1961-64 Ben Casey Writer 16 Episodes
1962 Route 66 Writer 1 Episode
Target: The Corruptors! Writer 1 Episode
1962-63 The Untouchables Writer 2 Episodes
1963 Alcoa Premiere Writer 1 Episode
Wide Country Writer 1 Episode
1964 The Richard Boone Show Writer 1 Episode
Suspense Producer 1 Episode
1965 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Writer 1 Episode
Burke's Law Writer 1 Episode
Gunsmoke Writer 1 Episode
I Spy Writer 2 Episodes
Mr. Novak Writer 1 Episode
Slattery's People Writer 1 Episode
The Wild Wild West Writer 1 Episode
12 O'Clock High Writer 1 Episode
1966 Combat! Writer 1 Episode
Laredo Writer 1 Episode
1966-67 The Big Valley Writer 3 Episodes
1967 Insight Writer 1 Episode
Iron Horse Writer 2 Episodes
Star Trek Writer 1 Episode
1967-68 Gentle Ben Writer 5 Episodes
1968 Land of the Giants Writer 1 Episode
1969 Hawaii Five-O Writer 1 Episode
The Name of the Game Writer 1 Episode
1971 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury Writer 2 Episodes
1972 Nichols Writer 1 Episode


  1. ^ a b "Gilbert Ralston". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (June 19, 1971). "Willard (1971) Screen: Affinity for Rats:Davison Plays Lead in Horror Film 'Willard'". The New York Times.
  3. ^ The New York Times, 8 July 1999
  4. ^ The Wall Street Journal, 15 July 2005

External linksEdit