Mickey Spillane, the macho mystery writer who wowed millions of readers with the sex and violence of gumshoe Mike Hammer, has died. He was 88.
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 films, 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 films. 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.
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 typewriter, always claimed he did not care about reviews. He considered himself a "writer" as opposed to an "author," defining a writer as someone whose books sell.
"This is an income-generating job," he said. "Fame was never anything to me unless it afforded me a good livelihood."
His style was basic and hardboiled. He wrote for his readers, he always insisted, not for critics or posterity.