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Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane

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Also Known As: Died: July 17, 2006
Born: March 9, 1918 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession:

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, but Fellows died shortly after the release of 1970â¿¿s "The Delta Factor," director Tay Garnettâ¿¿s take on Spillaneâ¿¿s 1967 spy novel, with Christopher George and Yvette Mimieux as agents on a rescue mission. Spillane again returned to writing, producing his first "spicy" potboiler, The Erection Set (1972), which followed in the vein of sudsy authors like Harold Robbins. In 1974, Spillane once again announced his retirement, but remained in the public eye through his appearance in numerous comic commercials for Miller Lite, where he joined the likes of Bob Uecker, Rodney Dangerfield, Joe Frazier and linebacker Ray Nitschke, among others. Spillane would frequently parody his hard-boiled persona in the spots, which saw him tricked out in porkpie hat and dark suit, with a blonde on his arm.Spillaneâ¿¿s second retirement was again short-lived. By 1979, he had returned to writing, with a pair of young adult novels, including the award-winning The Day the Sea Rolled Back (1979). His most famous creation had also returned to active duty, first in the CBS TV movie "Margin for Murder" (1981) with Kevin Dobson as Mike Hammer, and later, in the troubled 1982 production of "I, the Jury" with Armand Assante...

, but Fellows died shortly after the release of 1970â¿¿s "The Delta Factor," director Tay Garnettâ¿¿s take on Spillaneâ¿¿s 1967 spy novel, with Christopher George and Yvette Mimieux as agents on a rescue mission. Spillane again returned to writing, producing his first "spicy" potboiler, The Erection Set (1972), which followed in the vein of sudsy authors like Harold Robbins. In 1974, Spillane once again announced his retirement, but remained in the public eye through his appearance in numerous comic commercials for Miller Lite, where he joined the likes of Bob Uecker, Rodney Dangerfield, Joe Frazier and linebacker Ray Nitschke, among others. Spillane would frequently parody his hard-boiled persona in the spots, which saw him tricked out in porkpie hat and dark suit, with a blonde on his arm.

Spillaneâ¿¿s second retirement was again short-lived. By 1979, he had returned to writing, with a pair of young adult novels, including the award-winning The Day the Sea Rolled Back (1979). His most famous creation had also returned to active duty, first in the CBS TV movie "Margin for Murder" (1981) with Kevin Dobson as Mike Hammer, and later, in the troubled 1982 production of "I, the Jury" with Armand Assante as the private eye. The film underwent numerous production difficulties, including the firing of writer-director Larry Cohen after the picture went over budget, and the finished project, completed by Richard T. Heffron, earned mixed reviews, with many critics lambasting its abundance of exploitative sex and violence.

In 1984, Hammer returned to television with "Mickey Spillaneâ¿¿s Mike Hammer" (CBS, 1984-85), an unapologetically old-fashioned crime series with Stacy Keach as a virile and roguish Hammer. The show reproduced the novelâ¿¿s violence and leering tone towards women, which made it something of an anachronism among television programs of the period, as well as a favorite among male viewers. The series was interrupted in 1985 when Keach was arrested in England for cocaine possession, which resulted in a nine-month sentence. He reprised the role in a 1986 TV movie, "The Return of Mickey Spillaneâ¿¿s Mike Hammer (CBS), which resulted in a new series, "The New Mike Hammer" (CBS, 1986-87), which despite the presence of Keach in the title role, flopped due to its competitive time slot against "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1985-1992).

Spurred by the attention generated by the Keach-Hammer series, Spillane took up his old hero once again for 1989â¿¿s The Killing Man, his twelfth Hammer novel. That same year, Spillaneâ¿¿s South Carolina home was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo, which put his writing career on hold for a period of time. During this period, Spillaneâ¿¿s lengthy career finally received its due when he received the Edgar Allan Poe Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1995. A new attempt at a Hammer series, "Come Die With Me" (Fox, 1994), was also launched, this time with Rob Estes as the private eye and a newcomer named Pamela Anderson as his secretary, Velda, but it never progressed beyond the pilot stage.

In 1996, Spillane penned his final Hammer novel. Black Alley saw the P.I. awaken from a coma to contend with a changed world while pursuing $89 billion in stolen money. The author also returned to his earliest stomping grounds, the comics, for a science-fiction series based around Mike Danger, his proto-Hammer character. In 2003, he released Something Down There, a thriller with a new character, retired spy Mako Hooker. Hammer, however, was never far away. Stacy Keach gave the role a third try with "Mike Hammer, Private Eye" (syndicated, 1997-98), which quickly disappeared from the airwaves. Spillane himself was working on new Hammer material when he died of pancreatic carcinoma on July 17, 2006. His longtime friend and literary executor, novelist Max Allan Collins, later compiled the unfinished work into three new Hammer books, beginning in 2008 with The Goliath Bone.

That same year, Hammer returned to the radio airwaves with a series of audio dramas titled "The New Adventures of Mickey Spillaneâ¿¿s Mike Hammer." Keach provided not only Hammerâ¿¿s voice but also the showâ¿¿s score, and Collins penned a 2009 script based on an unfinished Hammer story by Spillane. By 2010 and 2011 Collins-Spillane published new novels, with the first being The Big Bang, followed by Kiss Her Goodbye in 2011. That same year, Spillaneâ¿¿s long time home, the small South Carolina fishing village of Murrells Inlet, renamed U.S. 17 in South Carolina the Mickey Spillane Waterfront 17 Highway.self, who stated that his interest in the show was purely financial. Critics decried its excessive violence, and fans of the novels took issue with McGavinâ¿¿s portrayal, which had a tongue-in-cheek element.

Hammer made the leap to the silver screen in 1953 with "I, the Jury," a loose adaptation by director Harry Essex with Biff Elliott as the two-fisted private eye. Filmed in 3-D, it made little impact upon its release, and was quickly forgotten in the wake of Robert Aldrichâ¿¿s "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955). Character actor Ralph Meeker played Hammer with an emphasis on the characterâ¿¿s latent sadism, as seen by the thuggish treatment doled out to nearly every character he encountered. The filmâ¿¿s screenwriter, A.I. Bezzerides, added a fascinating element to the picture with the introduction of a stolen suitcase containing radioactive material. Dubbed "the Great Whatsit," the suitcase represented Cold War paranoia and nuclear hysteria at its most terminal point; the filmâ¿¿s conclusion saw the suitcase opened and unleashing a seemingly supernatural annihilating force that appeared to consume even Hammer and his secretary-lover, Velda. However, the ambiguous ending was the result of clumsy studio manipulation, and the original conclusion, which saw Hammer and Velda escape the conflagration, was finally released in 1997. Widely regarded as the coda for the noir genre and one of the finest Cold War thrillers ever made, "Kiss Me Deadly" was not a favorite of Spillane, who angrily confronted Bezzerides in a Hollywood restaurant over the changes to his original text. A third Hammer picture, "My Gun is Quick," was released in 1957 to modest acclaim, though its star, Robert Bray, was regarded by fans as a faithful interpretation of Hammer.

Spillane himself had gotten into the movie business in 1954 with "Ring of Fear," a curious mystery with circus performer Clyde Beatty and Mickey Spillane playing themselves and investigating a rash of murders at Beattyâ¿¿s big top. Produced by John Wayne and co-written by an uncredited Spillane, the film helped to introduce the author to producer Robert Fellows, who bought the rights to Spillaneâ¿¿s novels with the intention of adapting them for the screen. In 1961, Spillane returned to writing with The Deep, a crime novel about a former hood returning to his old stomping grounds as a cop. Clamor for a new Hammer adventure resulted in "The Girl Hunters" (1962), which was turned into a motion picture the following year with Spillane himself in a credible turn as Hammer.

By 1964, Spillane had returned to the prolific schedule of the early 1950s, turning out up to two novels a year. He had developed a new character, a suave spy in the James Bond mold named Tiger Mann, who made his debut in the 1964 novel Day of the Guns. Both Hammer and Mann proved exceptionally successful, as shown by a 1967 list of best-selling novels published between 1895 and 1965. Spillane wrote seven of the top 29 titles. He continued to polarize readers and critics alike, with few changing their stance throughout his long career. One unlikely admirer who did was the novelist Ayn Rand, who praised Spillaneâ¿¿s Hammer novels, but reversed her opinion after the release of the Tiger Mann books.

In 1969, Spillane and Fellows launched a production company to begin their long-gestating project of adapting the authorâ¿¿s works for film

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Mommy (1995) Ekhard
2.
 The Girl Hunters (1963) Mike Hammer
3.
 Ring of Fear (1954) Himself
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