After a few years, Gil’s employers said they would name him the firm’s vice-president if he pursued his master’s degree. Gil resigned rather than tell everyone he did not have a college diploma. He moved to New York where he studied drama by day and drove a cab at night. By chance, Gil picked up a fare who showed a lively interest in the problems of unknown, unemployed actors. Before that passenger left the cab, he told Gil to report in a few days to the set of Love Story (1970), which was being filmed on location in New York City. When Gil arrived on the “Love Story” set, he was hired as an extra. Later that day, he was singled out for a “bit” role, which eventually wound up on the cutting room floor, but Gil now had his first professional credit.
During the next few years, Gil did most of his acting in television commercials, some four hundred of them, including a stint as spokesman for the Ford Motor Company. Then came a leading role in the daytime soap opera The Doctors (1963). He formed his own production company in partnership with a writer-producer, co-authored a screenplay called Hooch (1977) and filmed it as a starring vehicle for himself. With “Hooch” completed, he was summoned to California to co-star with Yvette Mimieux in Ransom for Alice! (1977) and to play Lee Grant’s youthful lover in Universal’s Airport ’77 (1977). A guest shot on Little House on the Prairie (1974) impressed producer-star Michael Landon, who cast him in the leading role in an ambitious television movie, Killing Stone (1978). He signed for his best known role as Captain Buck Rogers in the television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979).