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Volume 1688
Mickey Spillane Meets Burroughs
(Frank Morrison Spillane 1918-2006)
By Ken Manson


"Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar."
Mickey Spillane

"Occasionally there is a great piece of fiction that actually molds public opinion;
but in the meantime fiction either entertains or it does not entertain, and that is all there is to it."
Edgar Rice Burroughs ~ ERBzine 1366

Mystery writer and Tarzan fan Mickey Spillane died July 17, 2006, at age 88 in his home in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, south of Myrtle Beach.

Mr. Spillane had been invited as a mystery guest to the 2005 Dum-Dum held in Oak Park, Illinois, but was unable to attend. Jerry Spannraft, host of the 2005 Dum-Dum, said Mr. Spillane was a, "very, very close friend" of Max Allan Collins, who was the guest speaker at the Saturday night banquet and author of The Pearl Harbor Murders in which Edgar Rice Burroughs is a main character.


The Pearl Harbor Murders 
with protagonists ERB and son Hulbert
Max Allan Collins and Bill Hillman
Collins and Hillman at the
2005 Dum-Dum in Oak Park

Tarzan the Untamed
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
"Mickey Spillane was Max's mentor," Spannraft said. Spannraft said Collins told him Mr. Spillane had read some Tarzan stories and thought of his private detective, Mike Hammer, as a Tarzan-type character. In an e-mail, Collins said, "Mickey told me he loved reading Tarzan as a kid, and was always a fan of the movies. The book that he, in particular, commented on was Tarzan the Untamed. The one where Jane is 'killed' and Tarzan goes on a killing spree is what, not surprisingly, resonated with the future creator of Mike Hammer," Collins said. Burroughs started writing the story incidentally in 1918, the year in which Spillane was born.

Bill Hillman, ERBzine editor, said Mr. Spillane was a friend, writing colleague and major influence on Collins. "Other than that, I believe his only connection (with Burroughs) would be through his pulp writing style, his fame as a popular writer/editor/actor, and perhaps he was influenced at some time by ERB's writing and success as a pop icon," Hillman said about Mr. Spillane.

   .
Hillman said it would have been a thrill to meet Mr. Spillane at the convention, having read the author's One Lonely Night and I, The Jury in seventh grade and thinking they were really cool at the time. These were some of the first "adult" books he read and his fascination with Spillane's work has remained with him through the years. Hillman also discovered the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Zane Grey around this time and remembers the gritty stories of Mike Hammer as serving as a counter-balance to these earlier, more romantic "pulp" writers.

"Spillane changed both the publishing world and mystery writing," said Collins. "You can't have Dirty Harry without Mike Hammer. Spillane opened the door for all the tough guy characters to follow. Spillane's writing also spurred growth in paperback publishing," Collins said.

Spannraft said he invited Mr. Spillane because of the connection to Collins, he would be a good draw and, "I personally wanted to meet him." The Illinois resident said he collects mysteries, especially hard-boiled mysteries, and has all of Mr. Spillane's books. On Spannraft's behalf, Collins called Mr. Spillane, who could not make it to the convention. "He told Max he didn't feel like traveling," Spannraft said.

On the 9th day of  March 1918, the same month Burroughs's The Oakdale Affair was published in Blue Book Magazine,  Frank Morrison "Mickey" Spillane was born in Brooklyn, New York. Some say Mickey was his baptismal or middle name. Mr. Spillane said, "Women like the name Mickey." Collins will travel to South Carolina in late August for Mr. Spillane's memorial service.

36   .   .

In the late '30s Spillane became an editor for Funnies, Inc., a comics company which featured many John Carter of Mars stories and was later to become Marvel Comics. There he wrote scripts, plotted stories, and wrote text fillers for features such as "The Human Torch" and "Sub-Mariner."  Like many Americans, the day after the Pearl Harbor attacks, Mr. Spillane enlisted, joining the Army Air Force, where he trained fighter pilots. Burroughs was living in Oahu at the time of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks and was also very involved in the war effort. After completing his term of military service Spillane returned to New York where he attempted to form a new comics company with former Funnies colleagues Ray Gill, Basil Wolverton and Mike Roy. He had little success with his new feature, a private eye adventure called "Mike Danger," so he re-wrote the story as a novel which was published as I, The Jury by E.P. Dutton in 1947, introducing the world to the hard-boiled detective Mike Hammer. Although the hardcover edition didn't sell very well, paperback sales were spectacular, precipitating a major change in the publishing world.

Mr. Spillane wrote on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter and an estimated more than 200 million of his books were sold worldwide. He also performed in a circus act as well as being active in stock car racing, flying, fencing, scuba diving and appearing in the movies.

. ,
Mainstream critics had little use for Spillane. Author Raymond Chandler once said, "Pulp writing at its worst was never as bad as this stuff." -- but he got his due in the mystery world, receiving lifetime achievement awards from the Mystery Writers of America and the Private Eye Writers of America. Spillane was regarded by many as a super-patriot. John Wayne gave him a Jaguar XK140 for his anti-communism and Ayn Rand (author of Atlas Shrugged) commended his prose style to her disciples.

Mr. Spillane called his works, "the chewing gum of American literature." He said he was a money writer; "I write when I need money." He said the only crime writer who influenced him was John Carroll Daly, who created the Race Williams private investigator character.

"Spillane broke down the barriers, where sex and violence were concerned, and this pissed people off. Also, he was perceived as right-wing. The vigilante approach Hammer used turned the stomachs of many liberals... (Spillane) is number three, after Hammett and Chandler (in a list of the 10 most important detective novelists of the 20th century).

Anyone who doesn't recognize Spillane's importance is an idiot. There are paperback originals because Gold Medal Books was created to fill the public's demand for Spillane-type fare. Disliking Spillane's writing is one thing -- ignoring history is another." (Max Allan Collins, The January Magazine Interview)


SPILLANE'S BODY OF WORK
Ref:  Thrilling Detective ~ IMDB ~ Fantastic Fiction
NOVELS

I, the Jury (1947; Mike Hammer) 
My Gun Is Quick (1950; Mike Hammer) 
Vengeance Is Mine! (1950; Mike Hammer) 
The Big Kill (1951, Mike Hammer) 
The Long Wait (1951) 

One Lonely Night (1951; Mike Hammer) 
Kiss Me, Deadly (1952; Mike Hammer) 
The Deep (1961) 
The Girl Hunters (1962; Mike Hammer) 
Day of the Guns (1964; Tiger Mann) 

The Snake (1964; Mike Hammer) 
Bloody Sunrise (1965; Tiger Mann) 
The Death Dealers (1965; Tiger Mann) 
The By-Pass Control 1966; Tiger Mann) 
The Twisted Thing (1966; Mike Hammer) 

The Body Lovers (1967; Mike Hammer) 
The Delta Factor (1967)....Buy this book 
Survival Zero (1970; Mike Hammer) 
The Erection Set (1972) 
The Last Cop Out (1973) 

The Ship That Never Was (1982; young adult) 
The Killing Man (1989; Mike Hammer) 
Black Alley (1996; Mike Hammer)
Something Down There (2003)
 


REFERENCE

One Lonely Knight: Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
by Collins, Max Allan, and James L. Traylor.
Bowling Green, Ohio: 
Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1984. 
 
 






.

FILMS

I, THE JURY  (1953, United Artists)
Starring Biff Elliot as MIKE HAMMER

KISS ME, DEADLY  (1954, United Artists)
Starring Ralph Meeker as MIKE HAMMER

THE LONG WAIT  (1954, United Artists)

MY GUN IS QUICK  (1957, United Artists)
Starring Robert Bray as MIKE HAMMER

THE GIRL HUNTERS  (1963, Colorama)
Starring Mickey Spillane as MIKE HAMMER

THE DELTA FACTOR  (1970, Spillane-Fellows)
Starring Christopher George and Yvette Mimieux
Also starring Yvonne De Carlo, Ted de Corsia, Diane McBain, 
Rhodes Reason, Joseph Sirola, Sherri Spillane

I, THE JURY  (1982, American Cinema)
Starring Armand Assante as MIKE HAMMER 


TELEVISION

MIKE HAMMER
(1954) Unsuccessful pilot

MICKEY SPILLANE'S MIKE HAMMER
(1958-1960, US Syndicated series, 78 episodes)
Starring Darrin McGavin as MIKE HAMMER

MICKEY SPILLANE'S MARGIN FOR MURDER
(1981, CBS ~ 2-hour made-for-television movie)
Starring Kevin Dobson as MIKE HAMMER

MICKEY SPILLANE'S MURDER ME, MURDER YOU
(1983, CBS ~ 2-hour made-for-television movie)
Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER

MICKEY SPILLANE'S MIKE HAMMER
(1984-1985, CBS series ~ 22 60-minute episodes)
Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER

THE NEW MIKE HAMMER
A continuation of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer
(1986-1987, CBS series ~ 22 60-minute episodes)
Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
.
COME DIE WITH ME
(1994, AKA DEADER THAN EVER)
Rob Estes: MIKE HAMMER, Pamela Anderson: Velda

MIKE HAMMER-PRIVATE EYE
(1997, syndicated series ~ 26 60-minute episodes)
Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER

WEB REFS
Comic Art Bios
A Philip K. Dick letter to Jack Perkins at NBC Magazine, regarding a recent NBC segment on Mickey Spillane
 A Conversation with Mickey Spillane
Thrilling Detective
IMDB
Mickey Spillane Bibliography at Fantastic Fiction
Unofficial Mickey Spillane - Mike Hammer Site
Max Allan Collins Website
Max Allan Collins Bibliography
Mickey Spillane Bio
Mickey Spillane's Fan Letter To John Carroll Daly


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