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Last edited by Stew
February 28, 2021 | History

Mickey Spillane

9 March 1918 - 17 July 2006

Frank Morrison Spillane, better known as Mickey Spillane, was an American author of crime novels, many featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally. In 1980, Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 all-time best-selling fiction titles in the United States.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Spillane was the only child of his Irish bartender father, John Joseph Spillane, and his Scottish mother, Catherine Anne. Spillane attended Erasmus Hall High School, graduating in 1935. He started writing while in high school, briefly attended Fort Hays State College in Kansas and worked a variety of jobs, including summers as a life-guard at Breezy Point, Queens, and a period as a trampoline artist for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

During World War II, Spillane enlisted in the Army Air Corps, becoming a fighter pilot and a flight instructor.

Mickey and Mary Ann Spillane had four children (Caroline, Kathy, Michael, Ward), and their marriage ended in 1962. In November 1965, he married his second wife, nightclub singer Sherri Malinou. After that marriage ended in divorce (and a lawsuit) in 1983, Spillane shared his waterfront house in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, with his third wife, Jane Rogers Johnson, whom he married in October 1983, and her two daughters (Jennifer and Margaret Johnson).

In 1989, Hurricane Hugo ravaged his Murrells Inlet house to such a degree it had to be almost entirely reconstructed. A television interview showed Spillane standing in the ruins of his house. He received an Edgar Allan Poe Grand Master Award in 1995. Spillane's novels went out of print, but in 2001, the New American Library began reissuing them.

Spillane died July 17, 2006 at his home in Murrells Inlet, of pancreatic carcinoma. After his death, his friend and literary executor, Max Allan Collins, began the task of editing and completing Spillane's unpublished typescripts, beginning with a Mike Hammer novel, The Goliath Bone (2008).

Writing career

Comic books

Spillane started as a writer for comic books. While working as a salesman in Gimbels department store basement in 1940, he met tie salesman Joe Gill, who later found a lifetime career in scripting for Charlton Comics. Gill told Spillane to meet his brother, Ray Gill, who wrote for Funnies, Inc., an outfit that packaged comic books for different publishers. Spillane soon began writing an eight-page story every day. He concocted adventures for major 1940s comic book characters, including Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman and Captain America. Two-page text stories, which he wrote in the mid-1940s for Timely, appeared under his name and were collected in Primal Spillane (Gryphon Books, 2003).

Novels

Spillane joined the United States Army Air Forces on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the mid-1940s he was stationed as a flight instructor in Greenwood, Mississippi, where he met and married Mary Ann Pearce in 1945. The couple wanted to buy a country house in the Newburgh, New York, 60 miles north of New York City, so Spillane decided to boost his bank account by writing a novel. In 19 days he wrote I, the Jury. At the suggestion of Ray Gill, he sent it to E. P. Dutton.

With the combined total of the 1947 hardcover and the Signet paperback (December 1948), I, the Jury sold six and a half million copies in the United States alone. I, the Jury introduced Spillane's most famous character, hard-boiled detective Mike Hammer. Although tame by current standards, his novels featured more sex than competing titles, and the violence was more overt than the usual detective story. An early version of Spillane's Mike Hammer character, called Mike Danger, was submitted in a script for a detective-themed comic book. " 'Mike Hammer' originally started out to be a comic book. I was gonna have a Mike Danger comic book," [Spillane] said in a 1984 interview. Two Mike Danger comic-book stories were published in 1954 without Spillane's knowledge, as well as one featuring Mike Lancer (1942), were published with other material in Byline: Mickey Spillane, edited by Max Allan Collins and Lynn F. Myers, Jr. (Crippen & Landru publishers, 2004).

The Signet paperbacks displayed dramatic front cover illustrations. Lou Kimmel did the cover paintings for My Gun Is Quick, Vengeance Is Mine, One Lonely Night and The Long Wait. The cover art for Kiss Me, Deadly was by James Meese. --Wikipedia

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1890

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February 28, 2021 Edited by Stew Set full dates, eliminate some duplication.
February 14, 2021 Edited by Stew Edited without comment.
February 14, 2021 Edited by Stew Edited without comment.
February 14, 2021 Edited by Stew Clean up bio formatting.
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import