Obituaries : Paul Gillette; Novelist, Wine Expert and Scriptwriter


Paul Gillette, novelist, scriptwriter and beverage industry analyst, who was best known for the book “Play Misty for Me,” has died of heart failure in Los Angeles. He was 58.

“Play Misty for Me,” published in 1971, became a film starring Clint Eastwood. The book was one of several written by Gillette, including “Carmela” (1972), “The Chinese Godfather” (1981), “Cat o’ Nine Tails” (1972), “One of the Crowd” (1980), “The Lopison Case” (1967) and “Inside Ku Klux Klan” (1965).

Gillette, who died Jan. 6., was also a publisher and was among the first to host a nationally syndicated television show on wine appreciation. “Enjoying Wine With Paul Gillette,” which he also wrote and produced, aired on what is now the Public Broadcasting System in 1974. Earlier, he wrote for, and occasionally hosted, the long-running CBS program “Camera Three.”


In recent years, Gillette concentrated on publishing several beverage industry trade newsletters, which he founded in 1976, including the Wine Investor--Executive Edition, California Beverage Hotline, the Wine Investor--Buyers Guide and Healthy Eating. He was also senior editor for the Wine Enthusiast, a consumer publication.

Gillette was considered a leading financial analyst on the beverage industry--one who also had an expert palate for wine tasting. He served as a consultant to wine industry clients in California, Washington state, France, Italy and Argentina.

Robert Mondavi, founder and chairman of the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, Calif., said Gillette’s impact “was perhaps most felt in his uncanny ability to forecast trends and target the critical issues and challenges facing the wine industry. He often called us to task and we are all the better for it. I always looked forward to reading his valuable critiques and evaluations of the industry, whether I agreed with him or not.”

Gillette was also a highly regarded writing coach. In addition to a weekly master class for professional novelists, he also taught fiction writing in USC’s Master of Professional Writing program.

Born in 1938 in Carbondale, Pa., Gillette had his first article published in the Carbondale Daily News in 1949 as an 11-year-old. He was a 1959 graduate of Pennsylvania State University.

He is survived by his wife, Shelly, and two daughters, Giuliana and Caroline.