BMEWS
 
Death once had a near-Sarah Palin experience.

calendar   Tuesday - July 18, 2006

Obituary

Going through childhood in the 1950’s was tough. I had no Nintendo, computer or iPod to play with. In fact, Dad didn’t buy a TV until 1956 ... and even then there were only two channels to watch - from 7:00am to station sign-off around 11:00pm. Kids like me had to fend for ourselves when it came to entertainment. I spent a lot of time at the local movie theatre, playing with friends or .... reading books.

I read voraciously ... any book I could get my hands on. For non-fiction I preferred history, biographies, war stories and science. For fiction, I had two loves: the first was science fiction from the likes of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke and all the writers in John Campbell’s stable of writers during the golden age of Sci-Fi. My second favorite fiction literature was mystery books and one name stood at the top of the list of writers in that genre - Mickey Spillane.

“I, The Jury” was the first Spillane book I picked up (paperback - .25¢) and I was hooked. I thought Mike Hammer was the coolest dude who ever walked the mean streets of the city. And he had a knockout female secretary named Velda that every boy lusted after. Hammer was a “take-no-prisoners” kind of private dick and he took no crap off of anyone. Hard and to the point, you could depend on Mike Hammer to bring the crooks to justice and in some cases he was judge, jury and executioner.

Mike Hammer has all but disappeared from today’s modern touchy-feely, pussified society. Mickey Spillane created a real character who was larger than life and he entertained an entire generation by reminding us that it’s a mean, tough world out there and sometimes you just gotta take out a crowbar and beat the living crap out of some weasel just as an example to the others. Mike Hammer was about as politically incorrect as you could get - but that was back in the days before people started getting offended at the drop of a hat.

Rest in peace, Mickey. You will be missed.

imageimageMickey Spillane
(1918-2006)


CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Mickey Spillane, the macho mystery writer who wowed millions of readers with the shoot-’em-up sex and violence of gumshoe Mike Hammer, died Monday. He was 88. Spillane’s death was confirmed by Brad Stephens of Goldfinch Funeral Home in his hometown of Murrells Inlet. Details about his death were not immediately available.

After starting out in comic books, Spillane wrote his first Mike Hammer novel, “I, the Jury,” in 1946. Twelve more followed, with sales topping 100 million. Notable titles included “The Killing Man,""The Girl Hunters” and “One Lonely Night.”

Many Hammer books were made into movies, including the classic film noir “Kiss Me, Deadly” and “The Girl Hunters,” in which Spillane himself starred. Hammer stories were also featured on television in the series “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” and in made-for-TV movies. In the 1980s, Spillane appeared in a string of Miller Lite beer commercials.

Besides the Hammer novels, Spillane wrote a dozen other books, including some award-winning volumes for young people. Nonetheless, by the end of the 20th century, many of his novels were out of print or hard to find. In 2001, the New American Library began reissuing them. As a stylist Spillane was no innovator; the prose was hard-boiled boilerplate. In a typical scene, from “The Big Kill,” Hammer slugs a little punk with “pig eyes.”

“I snapped the side of the rod across his jaw and laid the flesh open to the bone. I pounded his teeth back into his mouth with the end of the barrel ... and I took my own damn time about kicking him in the face. He smashed into the door and lay there bubbling. So I kicked him again and he stopped bubbling.”

Mainstream critics had little use for Spillane, 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, a bearish man who wrote on an old manual Smith Corona, always claimed he didn’t care about reviews. He considered himself a “writer” as opposed to an “author,” defining a writer as someone whose books sell.

Spillane was born Frank Morrison Spillane on March 9, 1918, in the New York borough of Brooklyn. He grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., and attended Fort Hays State College in Kansas where he was a standout swimmer before beginning his career writing for magazines. World War II broke out and Spillane enlisted. When he came home, he needed $1,000 to buy some land and thought novels the best way to go. Within three weeks, he had completed “I, the Jury” and sent it to Dutton. The editors there doubted the writing, but not the market for it; a literary franchise began. His books helped reveal the power of the paperback market and became so popular they were parodied in movies, including the Fred Astaire musical “The Band Wagon.”

He was a quintessential Cold War writer, an unconditional believer in good and evil. He was also a rare political conservative in the book world. Communists were villains in his work and liberals took some hits as well. He was not above using crude racial and sexual stereotypes.While the Hammer books were set in New York, Spillane was a longtime resident of Murrells Inlet, a coastal community near Myrtle Beach.

He moved to South Carolina in 1954 when the area, now jammed with motels and tourist attractions, was still predominantly tobacco and corn fields. Spillane said he fell in love with the long stretches of deserted beaches when he first saw the area from an airplane.

The writer, who became a Jehovah’s Witness in 1951 and helped build the group’s Kingdom Hall in Murrells Inlet, spent his time boating and fishing when he wasn’t writing. In the 1950s, he also worked as a circus performer, allowing himself to be shot out of a cannon and appearing in the circus film “Ring of Fear.”

The home where he lived for 35 years was destroyed by the 135 mph winds of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Married three times, Spillane was the father of four children.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 07/18/2006 at 04:21 AM   
Filed Under: • LiteraturePolitically-Incorrect •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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