Table of Contents Mickey Spillane: Mike Hammer
Stories and Serials
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mike Hammer is a fictional American detective created by the American author Mickey Spillane in the 1947 book I, the Jury (made into a movie in 1953 and 1982). Several movies and radio and television series have been based on the books about Mike Hammer. The actor most closely identified with the character in recent years has been Stacy Keach, who portrayed Hammer in a CBS television series, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, which ran from 1984–1987 and had a syndicated revival in 1997–1998. (An earlier syndicated version, originally aired in 1957–1958, starred Darren McGavin as Hammer.) Spillane himself played Hammer in a 1963 motion picture adaptation of The Girl Hunters.
While pulp detectives such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are hard-boiled and cynical, Hammer is in many ways the archetypal "hard man:" he is brutally violent, misogynistic, and fueled by a genuine rage that never afflicts Raymond Chandler's or Dashiell Hammett's heroes. While other hardboiled heroes bend and manipulate the law, Hammer holds it in total contempt, seeing it as nothing more than an impediment to justice, the one virtue he holds in absolute esteem.
Hammer is also patriotic and anti-communist. The novels are peppered with remarks by Hammer supporting American troops in Korea, and in Survival...Zero Vietnam. In One Lonely Night, where Hammer attends a communist meeting in a park, Hammer's reaction to the speaker's propaganda is a paragraph with only one word in it: "Yeah."
So far as violence is concerned, the Hammer novels leave little to the imagination. Written in the first person, Hammer describes his violent encounters with relish. In all but a few novels, after a beating by Hammer, his victims are often left vomiting after a blow to the stomach or groin, the vomiting being a kind of Spillane signature.
The Washington Times obituary of Spillane said of Hammer, "In a manner similar to Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, Hammer was a cynical loner contemptuous of the "tedious process" of trials, choosing instead to enforce the law on his own terms
Mike Hammer Television Series
There have been four serialized television shows based on the exploits of Mike Hammer.
Mike Hammer Films
Filmed in 3-D starring Biff Elliot as Mike Hammer.
Robert Aldrich was the director, Ralph Meeker was cast as Hammer, Maxine Cooper portrayed Hammer's sexy secretary/companion Velda.
Robert Bray was cast as Hammer, with more of the violence originated from the villain rather than the detective.
The film grossed $308,000 with a total of $602 overseas.
Mickey Spillane was given the rare opportunity to portray his own creation in this film. This is one of the few occasions in film history in which the creator of a literary character was later hired to portray that character in a film.
Armand Assante plays Hammer in this version.
Rob Estes plays Hammer in this TV movie. Pamela Anderson plays his secretary Velda.
Mike Hammer Comic Strip
A short-lived comic strip starring Mike Hammer was distributed by Phoenix Features Syndicate from 1953 to 1954. It was entitled "From the Files of... Mike Hammer" and written by Spillane, Ed Robbins and Joe Gill, with art by Ed Robbins. Collections of the strip were published in the 1980s.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Frank Morrison Spillane (March 9, 1918 – July 17, 2006), better known as Mickey Spillane, was an American author of crime novels. He was known for the series of novels featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer, among other works. More than 225 million copies of his books have sold around the globe. By 1980, Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 all-time bestselling fiction titles in America.
Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Spillane was the only child of his Irish-American bartender father, John Joseph Spillane, and his Scottish mother, Catherine Anne. He started writing while in high school and briefly went to Fort Hays State College in Kansas. He worked a variety of jobs, including summers as a lifeguard and a period as a trampoline artist for the Barnum and Bailey circus.
Like another famed writer of crime fiction, Patricia Highsmith, Spillane started as a writer for comic books, While working as a salesman in Gimbel's 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 and concocted adventures for major 1940s comic book characters, including Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman and Captain America.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Spillane joined the United States Army Air Corps the next day, December 8, 1941. 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 house in the country, 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. Published in 1947, with a Signet paperback in December 1948, I, the Jury sold six and a half million copies in the United States alone. I, the Jury introduced Spillane's tough 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.
Mickey and Mary Ann Spillane had four children (Caroline, Kathy, Michael, Ward), but their marriage ended in 1962. In November 1965, he married his second wife, nightclub singer Sherri Malinou, who posed nude for the cover of The Erection Set (1972), a novel dedicated to her. After that marriage ended in divorce (and a lawsuit over money) in 1983, Spillane shared his waterfront house in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina with his third wife, Jane Rodgers Johnson, whom he married in October 1983. Meanwhile, first wife Mary Ann and their four children lived only a short distance away. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo ravaged his Murrells Inlet house to such a degree it had to be almost entirely reconstructed. A TV interview showed Spillane standing in the ruins of his house.
Spillane portrayed himself as a detective in Ring of Fear (1954), directed by screenwriter James Edward Grant. Several of the Mike Hammer novels were made into movies, including the classic film noir, Kiss Me Deadly (1955). In The Girl Hunters (1963) Spillane appeared as Mike Hammer, one of the few occasions in film history in which an author of a popular literary hero has portrayed his own character. In the TV series Columbo Spillane played a writer who is murdered. During the 1980s, he appeared in Miller Lite beer commercials.
Spillane became a Jehovah's Witness in 1951 (NPR Interview). He died July 17, 2006 at his home in Murrells Inlet from pancreatic cancer. Spillane's novels went out of print, but in 2001, the New American Library began reissuing them. He received an Edgar Allan Poe Grand Master Award in 1995.
Literary critics had a negative reaction to Spillane's writing, citing the high content of sex and violence. Spillane answered his critics with a few terse comments: "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar... If the public likes you, you're good."
However, Russian-American author Ayn Rand publicly praised Spillane's work at a time when critics were almost uniformly hostile. She considered him an underrated if uneven stylist and found congenial the black-and-white morality of the Hammer stories. She later publicly repudiated what she regarded as the amorality of Spillane's Tiger Mann stories.
German painter Markus Lüpertz claimed that Spillane's writing influenced his own work. He certainly loves to shock his critics by saying that Spillane ranks as one of the major poets of the 20th Century.
Popular culture references
"Now what happened with Ernest Hemingway was that he wrote this nasty piece about me... So I was on a show in Chicago, a live TV show. It was a big theatre and there was a stage audience, and the guy who was interviewing me said, "Did you read that piece that Hemingway wrote about you?" And I said, "Hemingway who?" It brought the house down, but he hated my guts after that."
Gateway is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. Hosting is by Flying Porcupine at www.flyingporcupine.com - and web design by Gateway. Submitting to Gateway: Basically, all you need do is e-mail it along and I'll consider it - it can be any length, if it's very long I'll serialise it, if it's medium-length I'll put it in as a novella, if it's a short story or a feature article it will go in as it comes. Payment is zero, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from Gateway, I do it all for fun! For Advertising rates in Gateway please contact me at Should you be kind enough to want to send me books to review, please contact me by e-mail and I will gladly forward you my home address. Meanwhile, here's how to contact me: