Bill Peepe

Created by Fred MacIsaac (pseudonyms include Donald Ross and Francis Moore)
(1886-1940)

A brassy and brash Hollywood press agent, BILL PEEPE often went to extreme lengths to obstensibly protect his clients, making like a hard-boiled shamus in the pages of Argosy in the thirties. Peepe had a rather cynical view of the movie industry, likening himself at times to a sewer worker, dealing with assorted kidnappers, blackmailers, extortionists, scam artists and other bottomfeeders who prey on his clients.

Not that his clients are necessarily the salt of the earth. But then again, neither is Bill. We're told that he's "not an estimable person. He had so many faults it would take hours to detail them. He was unprincipled, shifty and unable to resist strong drink very long." He also cheats on Lura Leeds, the beautiful young (and wealthy) British actress he's married to. As in, "Bill loved his wife but she was away on location."

And so, Bill's free to poke his snout into matters that may (or may not) concern him and run his various con games, living off the proceeds of Lura's burgeoning acting career and admiring the view from his room in a castle (Yes, a castle!) on top of Lookout Mountain in Laurel Canyon. (He at one point boasts he can see Catalina from his bedroom, and almost see William Wrigley chewing gum). Basically a cad and a coward, but when forced to he can rise to the occasion, firing guns, kicking down doors and otherwise indulging in all that good ol' private eye stuff.

Frederick John MacIsaac was born in 1886 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and after stints as a newspaper reporter and drama critic, became one of the pulp era's more prolific writers, with over a hundred stories published in Argosy alone, many featuring Bill Peepe, as well as creating a couple of other series sleuths: "The Rambler", a "tramp reporter" who appeared in Dime Detective, and Regginald "Reggie" Royce, whose adventures ran in Detective Tales. MacIsaac died in Los Angeles in 1940.

UNDER OATH

  • "(Bill Peepe) is one of the most entertaining rogues characterized by MacIsaac. Without conscience, ethics, or honesty (but) he is still kind-hearted and generous, courageous, ingenious, a schemer sometimes outwitted by others but generally able to come out on top. Each of these novelettes is interesting and well-plotted, with Bill in hot water from the start."

-- The Book Reviews of Chester Cuthbert

SHORT STORIES

I'm working from contradictory sources, but as far as I can tell these all feature Bill.

  • "The Press Agent" (December 22, 1928, Argosy)
  • "The British Blonde" (December 13, 1930, Argosy)
  • "Rogue of the Movies" (July 25, 1931, Argosy)
  • "Sixty Grand" (February 11, 1933, Argosy)
  • "Honest Bill Peepe" (May 13, 1933, Argosy)
  • "Buyer Beware" (December 16, 1933, Argosy)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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