Toughguy writer had cancer: wife
Lou Krasky/Associated press
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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. Spillane’s wife, Jane, told The Myrtle Beach Sun News he had cancer.
After starting in comics, Spillane wrote his first Mike Hammer novel — I, the Jury — in 1946. Twelve more followed, including The Killing Man, The Girl Hunters and One Lonely Night. Sales topped 100 million.
Many of these books were made into movies, including the classic film noir Kiss Me, Deadly and The Girl Hunters, in which Spillane 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 ads.
Besides Hammer, 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.
Spillane’s prose was boilerplate. From The Big Kill, Hammer slugs out 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.”