Mickey Spillane dies at 88 Jul 18, 2006 5:32:03 GMT -5
Post by lennie on Jul 18, 2006 5:32:03 GMT -5
Mystery writer Mickey Spillane, who created the tough-guy private eye Mike Hammer, has died at his South Carolina home at age 88, a funeral home official said. The cause of death was not immediately announced.
"Mr Spillane died this morning at his home here. His family was with him," said Brian Edgerton, funeral director at the Goldfinch Funeral Home in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.
Born Frank Morrison Spillane on March 9, 1918, in Brooklyn, Spillane grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and began his career as a magazine and comic writer.
The first incarnation of his Mike Hammer was a comic book character named Mike Danger. Spillane wrote more than two dozen books, including 13 in the Hammer series. His books sold more than 140 million copies around the world, according to a fiction writers website.
The first book, introducing Hammer, was I, the Jury, which he reportedly wrote in nine days and was published in 1947. Spillane's Hammer books also included My Gun Is Quick, Vengeance Is Mine, Kiss Me Deadly and The Big Kill.
"There's a kind of power about Mickey Spillane that no other writer can imitate," The New York Times once said of his work.
Spillane, a Jehovah's Witness who taught Bible class, occasionally acted in movies and played Hammer in the 1963 film of The Girl Hunters and parodied his hard-boiled image in television commercials for Miller Lite beer.
Spillane had no pretensions about his writing, going about it with the philosophy that "If the public likes you, you're good". He was known for blunt writing and blunt talk and had no trouble admitting that money was a prime motivator for his writing.
In 1995, when he was named a grandmaster of his craft by the Mystery Writers of America, he recalled the days when he didn't write mysteries. "I used to write true confessions stories like 'I was a pregnant teenager' and 'My boyfriend said we stopped in time,"' he said. "I write when I feel the urgent need for money."
Spillane was immune to critics who thought his style was uncivil, and once said, "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar."
Spillane's fans did not always include fellow authors. Raymond Chandler, creator of another rugged detective, Philip Marlowe, described Spillane's work as "nothing but a mixture of violence and outright pornography." Ernest Hemingway boycotted a Florida restaurant after the owner put up a picture of Spillane.
"He thought I was a lousy writer and didn't like the idea that I outsold him," Spillane said in the December 2003 issue of Vanity Fair when he was promoting a new Mike Hammer book, Something's Down There.
Spillane had lived in Murrells Inlet, which he discovered when he was an Army flight instructor during World War II, since the 1950s. Spillane was married to his third wife, Jane Rodgers Johnson. His first wife was Mary Ann Pierce, with whom he remained on speaking terms. His second was Sherri Malinou, a Los Angeles publicist from whom he split bitterly in 1983. He had four children from his marriages.