‘Route 66’ Writer Enjoys ‘Rat Race’
Corpus Christi Caller-Times - January 27, 1963

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‘Route 66’ Writer Enjoys ‘Rat Race’


“ROUTE 66” will begin shooting another television episode tomorrow at Port Aransas.

A week ago not a single word of the script had been put on paper.

Stirling Silliphant, co-owner of the Screen Gems production, began writing it Monday and was scheduled to have it completed and ready for shooting yesterday.

Of course, he already had the story in mind when he sat down to his typewriter.  He had been mulling it over several days.

That’s the way Silliphant works.

“I don’t like to spend too much time writing a script,” he said.  “If I do, it becomes labored.”

HIS ABILITY to turn out TV scripts in a hurry is the result of years of writing and the pressure of time.

He has written 60 of the 80 shows the company has produced in less than three years.  Of the other 20 shows, only one person has written as many as four.

The deadline pressure is one of the pressures of television writing.

“It’s a rat race,” he remarked.  “Don’t get me wrong, though.  Television has been wonderful to me.  I like it.  But writing a script every two weeks doesn’t give you any time to relax.”

Silliphant has been writing most of his 45 years.  He has been doing it full time about eight years.

“I QUIT an excellent job as director of publicity for 20th Century Fox in New York, rented a cottage on a beach in Cuba - that was before Castro - and started writing,” he said.

He sold his house and car and after paying off the notes he had $3,300.  With that he took his wife and two children to Cuba.

His money lasted six months.  During that time he wrote the book “Maracaibo,” which has been published in four languages and made into a movie, plus two plays, both of which he sold to the movies.  One of them, “Five Against The House.” was Kim Novak’s second picture.

With a batting average of 1000, he decided to go to Hollywood and give it a try.

There he wrote about 10 movies.  He branched out into television and has written 150 TV dramas.

He wrote the pilot series for “Naked City.” He wrote 32 of the 39 half-hour films the first year and the first five hour shows.  He is co-owner with Herbert B.  Leonard of both “Route 66” and “Naked City.”

HE HAS written a pilot series for a new television show, “Face to Face,” which he hopes to sell.  He is co-owner of it with screen actor Dana Andrews.  If it sells, he will have a show on each of the three TV networks.

Silliphant plans to spend about two more years in TV writing then cut down on his writing pace.

“I want to write for the theater and an occasional TV special,” he said.

Silliphant normally spends a couple of days on the location where a film is to be shot doing research and studying ideas.  He then returns to his home in Glendale, Calif., to mull it over about three days, then begins to write.  It takes him three days to a week to write a TV drama.

He is as prolific a reader as he is a writer.  In order to give himself background for his plays he will read eight to 10 books a week.  Quite often they are books not found in the library, so he buys them.

“I suppose I have a thousand books at home,” he said.

He pointed to examples on his coffee table - three books about schizophrenia.  He said he was thinking about making the principal character in a film a schizophrenic and had to study up on the subject.

SILLIPHANT uses an electric typewriter, a big table model which he takes with him wherever he goes.  He has a special case made to carry it around.

He formerly used a manual typewriter, but while working for a movie company a few years ago other writers in the studio got tired of hearing the clacking noise and offered to buy him an electric model.

He took the hint and bought his own.

“I didn’t like it at first, but now I wouldn’t write on anything else,” he said.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times - January 27, 1963

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