Today, we bring you Merla Zellerbach, a longstanding San Francisco journalist and author – and former game show panelist! Ms. Zellerbach is editor emerita and former editor in chief of the Nob Hill Gazette. She penned the “My Fair City” column in the San Francisco Chronicle for 23 years. Ms. Zellerbach has also published 10 novels and five self-help books about allergies. LCI recently caught up with Ms. Zellerbach to hear more about her illustrious career.
What’s your top story for today?
I just had the delightful pleasure (that’s redundant, I know) of interviewing Craig Newmark, who founded Craigslist, for the Nob Hill Gazette. He’s quite brilliant and articulate, and insists on describing himself as a nerd, but his social skills are polished, and he’s deeply involved in philanthropy and improving people’s lives. It was a memorable and inspiring experience.
Tell us about your “dream assignment.”
My “dream assignment” would be to interview one or more of my favorite people: Hillary Clinton, Stephen Colbert, Paul Krugman or Gail Collins of the New York Times, Charlie Rose, Gloria Steinem, Frank Gehry, and what the heck, George Clooney.
Describe the wackiest interview you’ve ever done?
My wackiest interview subject, by far, was Andy Warhol. He arrived at my house with Bill Graham and his (Andy’s) entourage of four. Every question I asked he answered with a yes or a no. Duh! Finally I asked a question he couldn’t answer that way. I said, “What’s your favorite color?” He turned to his PR man and said, “What’s my favorite color?” The PR man said, “Red.” Andy said, “Red.” I wrote the interview exactly as it happened and never heard from him or Bill Graham again.
What is your PR pet peeve?
I really like my friends in PR – Donna Berry Glass, for one. They’re very creative and often come up with terrific story ideas. I guess the only peeve I have is when someone has a really boring client who’s been around for a long time, and tries to make him or her sound fresh and exciting.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
Well, I do write mysteries that are available in some bookstores and online, so I guess I should mention those. My newest book is Love to Die For. And my passion is a nonprofit group, Compassion & Choices, which promotes the right of mentally competent, terminally ill adults in great pain and discomfort, to get medical aid to end their suffering. Personal experiences with loved ones have taught me how horrible a long, painful dying process can be. And to end on a positive note, my favorite quote comes from Mark Twain: “When in doubt, tell the truth.”
Please comment below or send an email to Merla!