Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Frank Morrison Spillane: 1918-2006

Mickey Spillane, the Brooklyn-born pulp novelist died this week at age 88. Spillane was a nasty little fireplug of a man, known for his Mike Hammer detective series and his commercials for Miller Lite in the 70s and 80s. He was a devout Jehovah's Witness, a reactionary conservative, a close friend to Ayn Rand, and an outspoken anti-communist. Rumor has it there was a point when his first seven mystery novels were seven of the top ten best-selling novels of all time.

The broad on the cover of his 1972 novel The Erection Set was his second wife Sherri Malinou. The book was called his "most ambitous work," and his attempt at a "literary" novel. I have, as you can see, an immaculate paperback copy of the book, but -- surprise -- I haven't read it. Now might be a good time.

From the U.K. Guardian:
There were three Mrs Spillanes. He divorced the first and married Sherri Malinou in 1964. A model 24 years his junior, she caught Spillane's eye when she was featured on the cover of one of his books. He called the agency and asked them to send over the blonde with the beautiful butt: "they sent her over, and I never sent her back." He used her (nude) on the cover of The Erection Set. The marriage, however, broke up, and Spillane married Jane Rodgers Johnson in 1983.

New York Times

Los Angeles Times

Washington Post

The Times Online

Spillane's writing was blunt and violent, but it was clever and compelling. When his Mike Hammer novels came out in the late 40s and the 50s they were shocking, not only for how bloody they were, but for the staggering number of copies they sold. I've only read one of them. More on Spillane soon.

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