Created by W.T. Ballard (Willis Todhunter Ballard, pseuds P. D. Ballard, Harrison Hunt, Neil MacNeil and John Shepherd; 1903-1980)
Here's another private eye who's officially not a private eye. Seems the pulps were full of 'em. BILL LENNOX started out in the pages of Black Mask in 1933, as an ex-reporter and publicity flack before becoming a trouble shooter for General Consolidated Pictures, a big-time Hollywood studio. Never afraid to get tough when it was called for, Bill seems to have impressed his employers, because by the time he graduated to novels, he'd become an executive producer. But rest assured that murder and mayhem, in true pulp tradition, seemed to follow him...
It should be mentioned, by the way, that despite being in the constant company of various Hollywood beauties, Lennox remained pure of heart and true to his girlfriend Nancy Hobbs, throughout the series.
Bill's last appearance was in 1960's Lights, Camera, Murder!, which was released under the pseudonym of John Shepherd, for some reason. A few years later, the very first Lennox novel, Say Yes To Murder, was reprinted, under the title of The Demise of Louise, also by Leonard. It seems by that the sixties, Ballard had gained quite a rep as a writer of westerns, and didn't want to confuse his audience.
Ballard was one of the fabled Black Mask Boys, and Lennox was one of the magazine's most popular characters, and his gig as a "troubleshooter" paved the way for several other non-P.I. P.I.s, including house dick Gil Vine, department store dick Don Cadee, and more recently, TV network snoop Matt Cobb.
Author Willis Todhunter Ballard was one of the more prolific and talented pulpsters, writng mostly westerns and mysteries, and he continued writing novels long after the pulp market dried up. He wrote novels about P.I.'s Sam Boyd and Mark Foran, and as Neil McNeil he wrote about the private eye team of Tony Costaine and Bert McCall. After WWII, when Ballard claimed that you couldn't even give detective stories away, he turned to writing westerns as Todhunter Ballard. In fact, the novel Gold in California won a Spur award, and much of his western short story work is great. He also had a knack for romantic comedy. Unfortunately, those stories are mostly buried in the pulps.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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