Spillane, Mickey Spillane--Cool Brother Spillane-naked wife on the cover
Spillane, Mickey Spillane
He pulled no punches and his pen was as fast as his gun.
After all, it took almost three whole weeks for Mickey to type his first novel
I, THE JURY.
MIKE HAMMER, whose private eye name is never written without somebody tacking on the phrase: “hard-boiled detective,” sold books galore to the delight of publishers about to discover a new phenomenon.
But wait--there’s more to Mickey Spillane than his success as a writer.
Spillane was a member of puritanical, doomsday religious cult!
Mickey Spillane’s first novel, I- THE JURY, was also released in a new form, a new technology of the day called the “pocketbook” or paperback.
(Paperback books (small/cheap)---needed a 3rd element to explode:
Sensation, Sex, Simplicity.)
Mickey Spillane’s MIKE HAMMER was all that and more!
The hardback sold a respectable 4,000 copies.
The paperback version sold--not thousands--but millions.
More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally.
Reading a hardback was for eggheads and respectable titles.
You could hide a paperback if somebody looked your way--get it?
A paperback was cheap, two-bits cheap, cheaper than a hardback. (Five bucks.)
Covers were garish, eye-catching, and lurid and married up perfectly with
Spillane’s antihero who could be a real blunt-force trauma of a man.
Who was this guy, Spillane?
A tough Irishman?
He’d joined the army right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and served as a flight instructor. When he mustered out, he tried creating...a comic book hero named MIKE DANGER...but Danger didn’t fly, bounce bullets, or have X-ray vision.
Besides, kids only like their eggs hard-boiled.
Spillane the man was terse, quiet, and matter-of-fact.
Surprisingly, he was also a Jehovah’s Witness.
A JW knocked on his door and convinced him of "The Truth" in 1951.
This public and private persona may seem odd at first glance--but, once one myself, I can tell you leading a double life is what it’s all about.
Brother Spillane’s gritty prose was a necessary counterbalance to the straitlaced, puritanical side of the door knocking evangelistic cult.
This was his gulp of “fresh air.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses see life as black and white and the narrative driving their Universe is a simple story of Good VS Evil. JW’s are a male-dominated religion of men who are the “head” of the family and the Sisters need to know their place in the grand scheme of things. God is a Big Kahuna who’ll strike down men, women, children, animals--hell, don’t get in his way!
(A subconscious MIKE HAMMER?)
I, THE JURY reflects such a worldview.
At the end of this novel, MIKE HAMMER does something to a woman which shocked readers at the time. It also titillated them. They wanted more.
A career was born which lasted into the late 1990’s.
Every time a new MIKE HAMMER novel was published, a cub reporter was dispatched to track Mickey down and corner him with silly questions--always the same ones. Mickey always looked bored and cynical. He had a crewcut like a naval recruit and he suffered no fools.
The very picture of a Christian evangelist!
He’d tell the cub reporter he only wrote: “for the money.”
"I don't give a hoot about reading reviews. What I want to read is the royalty checks."
His style? Self-parody.
“He took off like a herd of turtles.”
Or, “Her breasts were laughing things.” _______________________________
His view of homosexuals and blacks was gratuitous and mean-spirited. Nuanced? What’s a “nuance?”
As one writer remarked, “...the virgin/whore complex Hammer had towards women and particularly in regards to his peculiar relationship with Velda, his long-suffering secretary, was nothing short of just plain twisted.”
Heck--that’s just a Jehovah’s Witness viewpoint!
A reviewer observed, “Hammer novels possess a fierce, driving energy and white-hot passion that cannot be denied; one that drags the reader along in its wake and keeps them turning pages.”
Mickey Spillane, the man?
"I'm actually a softie. Tough guys get killed too early... I've got a full head of hair and don't wear eyeglasses... And I've kept the smoke coming out of the chimney for a very long time."
"Spillane broke down the barriers, where sex and violence were concerned, and this pissed people off. Also, he was perceived as right-wing. The vigilante approach Hammer used turned the stomachs of many liberals... (Spillane) is number three, after Hammett and Chandler (in a list of the 10 most important detective novelists of the 20th century).
Anyone who doesn't recognize Spillane's importance is an idiot."
James Bond and Dirty Harry all rolled into one.
Spillane’s writing tips?
1. Something’s got to happen.
2. Don’t take your reader where he wants to go. Tease them. Go against expectations.
3. Keep your sequels short and to the point. Forget inner dialogue and motivation. Move it along.
4. Let your Detective discover clues and identities he doesn’t share with the reader. It keeps them glued to the page.
5. Sex and violence, in their varying degrees, are really the only two colors on the writer’s palette.
6. Only write when you’re broke. Spillane only wrote when he needed money and spent the rest of his time deep-sea fishing
As a Jehovah’s Witness, Spillane went door to door. He didn’t kick them in and force Bible study at the point of a gun. Nope, he was mild-mannered and polite. As publicity for or against the Watchtower Organization--the truth is this. He was a “man’s man” and that’s what JW men like to think about themselves. Married and divorced 3 times, Spillane remained a golden boy to Watchtower leaders
When he died of cancer, a memorial service was held July 29 at the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall near Spillane's Murrells Inlet home, about 80 miles northeast of Charleston.
Spillane had helped build that Kingdom Hall with his own two hands.
I knew a JW Brother while I lived in California who used to play chess secretly in the local park.
(Chess is frowned upon as too war-like. Giggle giggle.) His name was Brother Kurt Rossit.
He told me in the course of conversation that he knew Brother Spillane when he lived near Myrtle Beach, SC.
“When Brother Spillane was assigned a talk (sermon) in the Ministry School, he’d show up in a Hawaiian shirt. You couldn’t make him wear a necktie! How he got away with it--I don’t exactly know. His attendance was spotty. Spillane tooled around in bright white tennis shoes, wearing his military-style crew-cut which gave the gossipers a fit. He went his own way and was considered cool by the men in high places.”
Kurt told me a story I wanted to believe whether it was true or not.
“Spillane liked to hang out at the bars. He’d invariably get into a religious argument. One time he reached into his back pocket and counted out a thousand dollars in cash and bet everybody in the bar they couldn’t find one scripture in the Bible to support the Trinity.”
The Brothers in Spillane’s congregation loved to go water skiing with him or fishing. He was like the cool dad they wish they’d had. They could be themselves around him, cuss, talk dirty about women and sex and not feel like he’d rat them out.
There has always been gossip among JW’s that Spillane “kept getting Disfellowshipped” for his trashy and prurient books. I have NEVER been able to verify this. Witnesses are among the biggest gossips on earth, from my experience. If you know or think you know some juicy tidbit, you repeat it as though it were sworn testimony. As far as I know, Brother Mickey Spillane got off scot-free. If you know different (and can prove it) I’d love to see your evidence :)
I never met Brother Spillane. I met plenty of shady JW’s in my time--but not the creator of MIKE HAMMER. More’s the pity--I think I’d have liked him! Wouldn't you?
I liked his style and as someone who secretly writes (I have a book on kindle under a pen name and I've been published in women's mags) I would use Mickey Spillane as 'well, there's a witness who writes, why can't I?' to which I was tersely told, he wrote when he WASN'T a witness.
It sickens me that at my age, I was so fearful of being found out by my elders I used a pen name! I didn't dare tell a soul. Sounds like Mickey didn't give a flying fig, well done him.
If the DF stories are founded in truth, it may be that Mickey was DF'd when he needed the money :)
The GB back in the 50's is a far cry from the Torquemada Inquisition of today.
For a few decades, the GB has become full-blown Pharisee unleashed as ethics officers of the Universe.
G.O.D. (Guardians of Doctrine).
Torquemada would be proud and the Inquisition in full force, if Watchtower minions could get away with it.
Still, all in all, no JW should have been able to complain because that would mean they read such tawdry "trash" in the first place.
It's like saying, "I saw Brother Brown at the orgy the other night."
In an interview for People magazine, Spillane said, "I’m not a tough guy. Every time my wife gets wise with me, I punch her right in the mouth --with my lips."
Spillanes' 3rd wife was interviewed. (The naked blonde)
"Sherri on Mickey:
The first time I met Mickey, I’d never heard of him. I thought he was a gangster. He was very violent and began knocking me around and pulling my hair. I had just left school and was modeling for the back cover of Mickey’s book The Girl Hunters. The photo session was meant to last an hour, but it went on for three and ended up with Mickey and me necking. That night he asked me out for dinner and told me he was going to marry me. I thought he was crazy. Then he gave me his high school ring off his finger and said, “We’re engaged.” Mickey was the first man I ever went with.
I think the only reason Mickey and I stayed together so long is because we were apart such a lot. When we’re together, we drive each other crazy. The longest we are ever together is about a month. We have at least three or four arguments a day. We have absolutely nothing in common except that we love each other. His house in South Carolina is right on the beach, and I hate the water. Mickey likes to go fishing all day, but I hate boats and the smell of fish.
He keeps all my old clothes, and when I throw something out he’ll keep it because it reminds him of something. I throw things out like crazy. He doesn’t like to go anywhere. He just likes to hang around in a pair of cut-off jeans, no shoes and a dirty old T-shirt and watch television.
We also fight over money. I think money is to be spent. I love to spend money on clothes and jewelry. I like presents that cost a lot of money, so Mickey buys me diamonds and minks. I buy Mickey silly presents. I once bought him a pair of lovebirds, and the male loved the female to death.
If I could change anything in my life, I’d change Mickey so that he enjoyed all the things I like to do. Then we could spend time together—and not fight all the time."
READ THIS INTERVIEW. It sounds like his wife is lying:
Just as an item of interest: At least one of his daughters attended the Pine Bush Kingdom Hall when I was a Bethelite at Watchtower Farms. She seemed to be quiet, unassuming people. Just regular folks. I believe that you are right about his wife lying, Terry. I am not 100% positive, but I think that they were married in a Kingdom Hall and so she was well aware that Mickey was a Witness. If my mother was alive I could ask her. My mother was an acquaintance of one of Mickeys friends who was our Congregation Servant or Assistant back in the late '50's early '60's and was Mickeys best man at the wedding.
Thanks, Sparky 1.
Mickey probably bit off more than he could chew in marrying a lady he was attracted to who did not share ANY of his interests.
As far as I know, at a certain point in time (after the movie THE EXORCIST) was released, Kingdom Halls were abuzz with almost nothing else but "demons" and being "demonized."
My mother, for example!
So, Mrs. Spillane might have walked into one of "those" situations and a Q & A standing around before or after the meeting could well have spooked her.
Let me know if you find out anything. It would be nice to put to rest many of rumors without evidence and to nail down those with facts to back them up.
Hi Terry ,their have been many posts on here about mickey Spillane going back 16 years .One I posted about 6 years ago as smiddy.
Before I became a convert I used to love reading his books when I was a teenager.
Their have also been a couple of TV series with two different actors playing Mike Hammer many years ago and at least one movie or two about the Private eye Mike Hammer.
Relying on my memory ( which is not always reliable nowadays ) I believe it has come out in a publication that he was converted after finding a leaflet left under his door ,and he became a book study conductor some time later .
I think he stopped writing for a period of about 10+ years ? And then he started writing again which made me think he was out of the religion .
But that was just my thoughts.
This is a well written article. Thank you for this post. I greatly enjoyed it.
Thanks, all--a fellow on Facebook asked me about Mickey Spillane because he knows I was a JW. I usually write little snippets, anecdotes, or stories about interesting people who have passed through my life. Unfortunately, Spillane and Terry never shared breathing space but I wrote this for the joy of writing and to extract a bit of portraiture for the younger ex-Dubs who almost never hear about the rebel Dubs who did things pretty much their way rather than strictly "by the book."
truth_b_known36 minutes ago37 minutes ago
This is a well-written article. Thank you for this post. I greatly enjoyed it.
THANK YOU--that's why I tried to do right by M.S.
Thanks, again, Terry -- very interesting. You're quite the writer and we're fortunate for your sharing here.