Mort: Yvette Mimieux

Autograph Hound Saturday and Brian Leno pulls an image from his collection as a gesture of “respect for Yvette Mimieux, who died on the 17th.”

Struggling with a Wellsian Morlock from the beloved 1960 George Pal production of The Time Machine — but what else to expect from the Leno trove?

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Rediscovered: REH and HPL Dip Tentative Toes into Newsprint

“I’ve been aware of your blog for years,” Bill Mullins told me in a recent note, “but have recently started reading it more closely via being acquainted with Terry Zobeck.”

Bill’s one of those guys jumping into the quest for material lost in the rotting newspapers of yesteryear, and already he’s unearthed a previously unknown Hammett article.

And Bill’s even called me out for a technical error!

“You recently said — in your Rediscovered: ERB in the Papers, Too post on December 20 — ‘Too bad figures such as H. P. Lovecraft or Robert E. Howard never got in on the newsprint.'”

Now, in my defense, in context I thought it was clear enough that I was talking about writers such as Hammett who had tons of his Op yarns reprinted in paper after paper all over the world — or authors such as Edgar Rice Burroughs or Louis Tracy who got entire novels recycled for the entertainment of the newspaper reading public.

But a quibble is a quibble, and technical accuracy isn’t something to be ignored casually.

“This isn’t quite true,” Bill reports. “Robert E. Howard’s story ‘The Ghost of Camp Colorado’ appears in the Coleman TX Democrat-Voice​ of 9/27/1934.

“And comparing the newspaper version to the online version shows some minor textual differences. The newspaper version makes reference in the first line and elsewhere to Jim Ned creek, while the online version says Jim Ned River. And while the newspaper version reads ‘From Camp Colorado went Major Van Dorn,’ the online version reads ‘And from Camp Colorado went General James P. Major with the force under Van Dorn.’ Further differences can be found, and I am not enough of a scholar of Howard material to guess which version should be considered canonical.”

Bill also cites the fact that REH’s high school essay  “What the Nation Owes the South” made The Brownwood Bulletin, 5/26/1923 — and that several pieces appeared in his college paper, the Howard Payne Yellow Jacket.

My reply was that the Yellow Jacket wasn’t exactly the Detroit Free Press. If you know what I mean.

The Howard Studies guys have had this material under the microscope for a long while, but it never hurts to have fresh eyes on something.

I found Bill’s delving into Lovecraft more on point — poignantly so. Bill reports, “I’ve also found numerous articles on astronomy, poetry, and a letter to the editor by him in newspapers” — much of the poetry being part of the Fungi from Yuggoth sequence that he sold to the Providence paper. One of the many (many) excellent moments in John D. Haefele’s Lovecraft: The Great Tales as he follows the Fungi.

The only HPL story in newsprint Bill has found (so far): “The Music of Erich Zann” (1922) which shows up in the London Evening Standard, 10/24/1932.  “The story is behind a paywall,” Bill tells me, but other than looking at it, who hasn’t read this standard?

But that’s what I’m talking about — part of HPL’s early recognition in England, much faster than in the States. If only he had gotten a reprint roll going in the UK papers even vaguely similar to Hammett’s run with the Ops, how different might Lovecraft’s life story have turned out to be.

Still, it’s hard to imagine some guy opening his paper over the morning spotted dick and encountering “The Call of Cthulhu”. . . .

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Hammett: Hollywood Goes Sports Mad

Terry Zobeck, back on the Mean Streets — and today he tells us about “a tongue-in-cheek article that Hammett published in 1934” with a link to its appearance in the November 8, 1934 issue of the Hartford Courant.

“I verified that it was not previously known,” Terry reports. “Not in Layman’s bibliography or in the Hammett section of his and Bruccoli’s Hardboiled Mystery Writers.

“Bill Mullins is the person who found it.

“While not major Hammett, it is another piece of the puzzle and exciting to have.

“Regardless, it has not been publicly identified.”

Until now.

In my recent post about Hammett’s cameo in the television production of “Two Sharp Knives” I mentioned I discovered this amazing clip as a result of an online newspaper search by a fellow FictionMags correspondent, Bill Mullins.

Bill knows that Hammett is my favorite author so he did a search for any potentially interesting Hammett notices in old newspapers. Among the possibilities he sent me was Hammett writing about the new-found enthusiasm for exercise and sport among the Hollywood crowd.

While Hammett wrote many book reviews for newspapers, only one newspaper article by him has been previously identified — a piece titled “Author of Stories Is Sorry He Killed His Book Character” that appeared in the November 3, 1934 issue of the San Francisco Call Bulletin, just five days before the sports in Hollywood article was published.

The “Killed His Character” article is included in the section on Hammett in Bruccoli’s and Layman’s Hardboiled Mystery Writers. In it Hammett expressed his regret for killing Nunheim in The Thin Man. He would have liked to have had him available to kill him in the script he was writing for the movie sequel.

As Layman notes, however, it is unlikely that Hammett actually wrote this article. More likely written by someone in the MGM publicity department. It certainly doesn’t read like Hammett, unlike the current article, which bears the hallmarks of Hammett’s comedic writing.

It’s 1934. Hammett was at the peak of his popularity. He’d published five best-selling novels. He was working as a scriptwriter in Hollywood. The film of The Thin Man, for which he wrote the screen story, was a smash hit.

Sometime that fall he was asked to be the guest columnist for Mollie Merrick’s gossip column, Hollywood in Person. Merrick, not as well-known as Walter Winchell or Louella Parsons, still had a large readership and was syndicated throughout the United States via the North American Newspaper Alliance.

Like the other gossip columnists, Merrick on occasion invited celebrity guests to sub for her. Among her most frequent guest subbers was Carole Lombard.

While I suppose we can’t be certain this piece of fluff was written by Hammett rather than a ghostwriter (a common practice at the time), it certainly reads as authentic.

Hammett, dismayed at the new-found fondness for exercise and activity, longs for the days when he could nap undisturbed in his studio offices. He laments the lack of old-time Hollywood parties. Rather than alcohol-fueled all-nighters, the new Hollywood folks abstain from booze and leave early because they have a golf or polo match the next morning.

He then suggests that he may have to bring his old friend Nick Charles to Hollywood because “some day, some chap who loves his sleep is going to be called early some morning, say sevenish, ‘for 36 holes of golf.’ Alongside his golf sticks will be found the phoning sportsman, cold in death. And a new mystery plot will have had its birth.”

This last bit suggests a darker subtext to the article, and may help to confirm that Hammett was indeed the author.

Perhaps the darkest event in Hammett’s life and certainly the most indefensible was his assault on the actress Elise De Viane in Los Angeles in 1931. According to De Viane’s court testimony she visited Hammett in his hotel suite accompanied by her young niece. By the time she arrived Hammett was already intoxicated. He asked her to have a drink with him, she declined, and then was dragged into the bathroom and assaulted.

She filed a police report which was investigated. No criminal charges were filed against Hammett. However, De Viane filed a civil suit against him for sexual assault and battery, requesting damages of $35,000. Hammett did not appear in court — he was in New York by this time. Following her testimony, the judge found in her favor and awarded her $2,500 in damages.

Hammett did not pay but in 1934 when he was back working in Hollywood, De Viane went back to court and had his scriptwriting wages garnished. In a letter dated November 5, 1934 to Lillian Hellman he writes:

Miss Deviane [sic] caught up with me and so my pay-check is sewed up, but I hope to get it fixed up tomorrow so that only a little is taken out each week — if $300 a week for 9 weeks can be called a little. But I’m stuck for it so I guess there’s no excuse for bellyaching.

The timing of the garnishing of his wages and the publication of the article lamenting the lack of old-style drinking at Hollywood parties may be coincidental, but drinking like it was 1931 seems to have been on his mind.

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Rediscovered: Nosing Around in Newsprint

Noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook sends along some more food for thought, following up the musings he closed out the last year on.

Here’s Kevin:

The newspaper reprint phenomenon has more elements than we have touched on.

For instance, newspapers seem to have had a habit of picking reprints from certain pulps.

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Dashiell Hammett we already know about, but I can attest that other authors from the Munsey group were also reprinted in newspapers; among them H. Bedford-Jones (John Solomon), Ray Cummings and Homer Eon Flint.

I own a reprint of Flint’s “The Missing Mondays,” a Munsey serial, reprinted complete in the Sunday March 3, 1940 issue of the Akron Beacon Journal in their “The Sunday Novel” feature, 17 years after it’s serialization in Argosy All-Story Weekly — and well after Flint’s death.

Who would have been marketing Flint’s old stories at that point in time, if anyone?

Perhaps Munsey. But my thought has been that some parent newspaper company to the Akron paper bought the rights years back and was just recirculating the story.

Think of the number of Hammett reprints there could be if parent companies bought story rights and then reprinted them in all their different papers over a period of years? Hearst, for instance?

I mean, who would have thought to check the Akron Beacon Journal for pulp magazine reprints?

Does the newspaper even exist today? Are their files on microfilm somewhere?

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “The Man Eater” was only located decades later by going through records of every issue of the New York Evening World that was reprinting tons of his stuff.

That’s why I think that it would be impossible to locate every Hammett reprint, when you know that pulp reprints were appearing in totally obscure newspapers.

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Hammett: “Creeping Siamese” Down Under

The Hammett newspaper reprint action keeps churning!

Terry Zobeck popped me a note taking the search for newsprint Op yarns Down Under. Even my informants have informants.

Here’s Terry:

Our correspondent from Australia, Warren “Woz” Sproule, from a few years ago sent me a link to an Australian paper, The New Wireless Weekly for September 12, 1942, from Sydney.

It reprints “The Creeping Siamese” — with the confusing cover teaser “New Complete ‘Thin Man’ Story by Dashiell Hammett Inside”.

Light editing removes any reference that dates the story to the 1920s, with a few other random touches, including a couple of unfortunate edits to Hammett’s dialogue.

However, it does not use the Dannay version. Most likely because it slipped into print before Dannay (editing as Ellery Queen) began his ambitious reprint program.

I’d like to know how much Hammett was making off these syndicated reprints.

And Woz offers this tip:

When it flashes up, download page 1, then 6 and 7.

If this link works, let me know and I’ll send you another (6-page) Antipodean installment — “First Aide” (i.e., “The Assistant Murderer”). Good Luck.

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Hammett: Another Top Tenner

Brian Leno let me know that an Op story cracked The Top Ten list for Library of America’s Story of the Week feature in 2021.

“The Gutting of Couffignal.”

One of the yarns in Hammett’s white-hot burst of Op action in 1925, one masterpiece after another.

Emphasis on action.

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Hammett: From Ape-Wrangler to Town-Tamer

The other day Evan Lewis tracked down another “lost” movie version of Red Harvest, that would have followed the “lost” version starring Alan Ladd at Paramount — Ladd’s being juggled in 1941 and this next version getting a big blurb by Louella O. Parsons in her column in mid-March 1942.

After the project with Ladd fell apart, some hopeful type tried to keep it going with the actor Bruce Cabot set for the lead.

I wonder how far that one got before it did a nosedive.

Cabot would have made a more authentic tough guy than Ladd in the role, but at over 6’1″ he wasn’t short and he wasn’t fat — not that I would expect Hollywood to cast some short fat actor in the gumshoes of the Continental Op. Even today.

His IMDb page is interesting. Best known (if known at all) as the manly swab Jack Driscoll opposite Fay Wray in the 1933 King Kong — but what a toehold on cinematic history. Apparently auditioned for the role of Ringo Kid in Stagecoach, but lost it to John Wayne. Right there, one hit the road to superstardom and the other faded into the background. Last film role, a backup character in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) — a canonical Bond/Connery-as-Bond flick.

Now I’m wondering whether or not our resident Autograph Hound Brian Leno has Cabot’s John Hancock. He might — he’s got Fay Wray.

But does Brian have a signature under Cabot’s full birth name Etienne Pelissier Jacques de Bujac?

Get on it, Brian.

Never in a million years would I have pulled that name out of the hat for Bruce Cabot.

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Rediscovered: The Big Picnic

John D. Haefele just got a nice nod for Xmas for his Cyclopean tome Lovecraft: The Great Tales — and from noted Lovecraftian Ken Hite, no less.

In November I got an enthusiastic yet somewhat startled note from my academic pal Tom Krabacher, who said: “Here’s a Kickstarter that actually delivered!

“The second volume of Ken Hite’s Tour de Lovecraft  arrived a couple days ago. This one, The Destinations, looks at HPL’s use of locales, both real and imaginary. 

“It comes with a updated and expanded edition of the earlier Tales volume in a nice slipcase. There’s a sewn-in bookmark ribbon and, for those of us who need them to decorate our Jr. High trapper keepers, some stickers as well. 

“All at a very reasonable $35 price.

“The process wasn’t without glitches; the original delivery date was Halloween 1919, but delays with their Romanian printer and the pandemic got in the way. Still, there were regular updates and it came through in the end. 

“No Chicken-Fried Cthulhu here!”

Krabacher is a big booster of the original Hite book — he loanered it to me awhile back — but I think he’s been burned on Kickstarter too many times for his own good. He likes to toss in money on potentially worthy causes, he really does, but resisted on Chicken-Fried Cthulhu because it was being done by some of the same people who put forth the magazine Skelos.

As I recall, the vague proposed plan was that Skelos would appear quarterly and so you’d Kickstart in for four issues, get them all in a year, then resub. I think the first three issues may have dribbled out over the course of three or four years, with a two or three year wait before issue four was pronounced as available.

Of course, Krabacher — who paid the full freight up front — has yet to receive his copy of that fourth issue. Makes you lose faith in humanity and its endeavors.

He’s lucky Hite can deliver.

And the guy knows a great book on Lovecraft when he sees one.

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Hammett: More Dashiells

I did a quick Dashiell Hammett Tour by appointment on Saturday the 18th. Initially the guy had Monday the 13th in mind — you know, the day one of those atmospheric rivers unloaded the agua on the mean streets all day and night.

I told him he probably didn’t want to drown his parents on the walk, and we lucked out on a different day they were still in town on a visit.

The easy backstory is that his parents named him Dashiell, and he figured they might enjoy the tour. He’d been on the walk before himself, back in 2013, so it wasn’t just a shot in the dark.

I got to ask them about how they came to pull the name Dashiell out of all the names in all the cultures in all the world, and much of it was what I consider the usual. They like the stories — but they also respect Hammett standing up to McCarthy back in the blacklist days.

An even more specific detail helped nail down the name selection for them.

The mom noticed that Harry “The Hat” Anderson was naming his newborn Dashiell Anderson — born January 26, 1986 in the midst of Harry’s run as Judge Stone on Night Court, 1984-1992.

Dashiell — yeah, why not?

And so one new Dashiell quickly followed up another in that mid-80s boom.

Incidentally, on Wikipedia it notes that in 2002, Anderson and his second wife, Elizabeth, whom he met in New Orleans, opened a small shop in the French Quarter named “Spade & Archer Curiosities by Appointment” selling various “magic, curiosities, and apocrypha.”

Spade & Archer. Also catchy.

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Rediscovered: ERB in the Papers, Too

The noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook sent in some additional thoughts and info on the idea of writers such as Hammett getting a ton of newspaper action with reprints — lots of reprints — from their backlog. Kevin approaches the subject via Tarzan scribe Edgar Rice Burroughs.    

“With the newspaper reprints the most interesting things the Burroughs fans found was additionally unknown illustrations by major artists like J. Allen St. John — the same may happen as enough different Hammett newspaper reprints are discovered, although illustrations for Hammett have never been a major focus for his collectors.

“Plus” Kevin continues, “some textual differences. 

“For instance, additional text for Burroughs’ Beyond Thirty was found in newspaper printings that was not included in the All Around Magazine printing — and the newspapers were provided with their text from Burroughs’ manuscript rather than magazine tear sheets.

“Therefore, the missing text was written by ERB and edited out by Street and Smith editor A.L. Searles.

“The most important point is what you noted about more people reading Hammett in newspapers than the pulps, and the same was undoubtedly true for ERB as well.” 

It may well be that the entire perception of the history of pulp fiction — or at least some of the major writers to emerge from the pulps — must be redone, taking all these newspaper appearances into the account.

Too bad figures such as H. P. Lovecraft or Robert E. Howard never got in on the newsprint. But newsprint could be a deciding factor alongside book publication that made some of the pulpsters famous more quickly.

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