Robert Leslie Bellem

(1902-68; aka Ellery Watson Calder, Harley L. Court, Walt Bruce, John Grange, Nelson Kent, Kenneth A. Nelson, John A. Saxon, Jerome Severs Perry, Richard Lathrop Steed & Harcourt Weems)

"And then, from an open window, a roscoe coughed Ka-Chow..."

The hard-boiled private eye, born in the low-rent pages of the pulps way back in twenties, has become a remarkably resilient mainstay of American popular culture, evolving with the times, popping up not just in literature, but film, radio, television, comics, the internet and undoubtedly whatever lies beyond. He's also proven to be quite fertile ground for all kinds of writers, from brain-dead hacks pounding out the most clichéd and purplish of prose just to pay the rent, to those who sweated and struggled over every single comma, taking themselves very, very seriously. You only have to read the innumerable letters and essays by high-faluting hard-boiled pen-pushers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald to know that these men (commonly referred to, almost in awe, as "The Big Three" of detective fiction) took themselves very seriously indeed.

But it's a pretty safe bet that Robert Leslie Bellem (1902-1968), the creator of legendary Hollywood eye Dan Turner, never took himself that seriously. Or expected his readers to.

He seemed to effortlessly churn out the stuff, and it's estimated he wrote an astounding 3000 or so pulp stories, with Turner starring in at least 300 of them, not to mention 60 or 70 comic book stories. In his prime, it was said that Bellem was pumping out a million words annually, and selling almost every single one of them to the pulps. But he was more than merely prolific -- he was a riot.

The question, though, is did he know it? Was he was trying to parody the hard-boiled detective genre, barely ten years after its birth, with his stories of Turner, or (and this is even scarier) was he simply, completely unaware of how funny and original his style was?

Bellem was born in 1902 in Philadelphia, and worked in Los Angeles as a newspaper reporter, radio announcer and film extra. But it was as a writer for the pulps that he truly made his mark.

Most of his worked was published by the notorious Culture Publications, home of the "spicy" line of pulps: Spicy Detective, Spicy Adventure, Spicy Western and Spicy Mystery. He wrote in a variety of genres, under numerous pen and house names, including John Grange, Victor Rousseau, Walt Bruce and Jerome Severs Perry. He wrote vampire stories, weird menace stories, and of course, tons of detective stories.

He created Dr. Zarkov, the mysterious Surgeon of Souls, who would appear "phantasmagorically to those who found themselves at a moral crossroads, offering an alternative ethical and healthy course of action... to remove the cancerous tumors of hate, envy, lust, greed from their souls so they may find peace . . . and redemption."

With fellow pulpser W.T. Ballard, Bellem wrote ten stories featuring Jim Anthony, a half-Comanche, half-Irish crimefighter created by Victor Rousseau Emanuel. Anthony evolved over the course of his brief career from a kind of Doc Savage superhero to a more traditional hard-boiled dick, which was when Ballard and Bellem, writing together as John Grange, came in.

Ballard and Bellem also teamed up, this time as Walt Bruce, to write several stories featuring Doctor Zeng, originally written by E. Hoffman Price. Zeng was a white man from San Francisco of rather impressive skills posing as a Chinese scholar, all the better to fight crime.

He was also the man behind such two-fisted eyes as Jeff Quinlan, Sam Welpton, Cliff Downey, Little Jack Horner, Rusty Regan, Sergeant Nolan, Nick Ransom and Duke Pizzatello.

But of course, by far his most famous creation was Dan Turner, whose stories were written in the first person in a racy, slangy style that the public apparently never tired of. Turner was a "private skulk," an "orb for hire," working the weird and wacky streets of Hollywood. His cases seemed to always involve the film world, and its tyranical film directors, jealous husbands, amourous starlets, treacherous stuntmen and back-stabbing co-stars. But it wasn't the outlandish, albeit predictable, plots or the cardboard characters that made the stories so funny, although some of the methods of murder were certainly pretty high on the Quirk-O-Meter. Nope, it was the high-octane use of every slang word known to man (and more than a few Bellem must have coined himself) that fueled the tales. Women were wrens or frills, and their breasts were pretty-pretties or tiddlywinks, something that Dan, "as human as the next gazabo," always took the time to notice. Cars were chariots, money was geetus and no one ever got killed in the stories, they were croaked, cooled, iced, de-lifed or had an act of killery performed upon them. Guns didn't go bang – they were roscoes and they spat, coughed and belched. Or somtimes they just sneezed, though the end result was the same -- people ended up dead. Dead as a fried oyster. As vaudeville. As an iced catfish. In fact, just knowing Turner seemed to be dangerous. Years before TV's Jessica Fletcher watched the citizens of Cabot's Cove drop like flies, Dan was cutting a wide swatch through the population of Hollywood. The only other recurring character in the series was his pal, and sometime-rival, Lieutenant Dave Donaldson of the homicide squad, whose chief purpose seemed to be to get the bodies hauled away.

Set against the background of the Hollywood film industry (of which Bellem had personal knowledge), the first stories were published in the pages of Spicy Detective, a pulp that specialized in "racy" subject matter. Turner subsequently appeared in each issue from June 1934 to 1947. Eventually, the magazine was re-christened Speed Detective (and supposedly cleaned up), but the Turner stories continued, with Bellen often recyling older stories, toning down the "spiciness." But even that didn't seem to stop his output.

By 1942, Turner was so popular, Culture Publications had given him his own pulp, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective (later just Hollywood Detective), which lasted for eight years. Not only would there be a Turner story or three in each issue, sometimes Bellem would write the entire issue, using a variety of pen names (and, okay, occasionally, slyly retitling or reworking a previously published story).

Turner also appeared in a film, 1947's Blackmail, adapted from a July 1944 Speed Detective story, starring Richard Cortez as a blackmailed playboy who asks Turner (William Marshall) for help. Strictly B, from all reports. And more than forty years later, Turner fanatic John Wooley scripted an original story for The Raven Red Kiss-Off (1990) wherein Turner (Marc Singer) gets involved with a movie mogul, a beautiful starlet named Vala DuValle (Tracy Scoggins) and, as usual, blackmail. Apparently, this went straight to video, that era's equivalent of a B film.

Though, you ask me, film's the wrong medium for Turner anyway. With its breakneck pace, and bursts of wonky chatter, a half-hour TV show might be better, but let's face it – nothing compares to simply reading this stuff. Hackneyed and predictable, yes, but also hilarious as hell. Bellem may have been a hack, but the gink sure knew how to fling those words around.

Certainly, even back then, Bellem had his defenders. In a now-classic New Yorker piece, "Somewhere a Roscoe," humourist S.J. Perelman, an unabashed fan, lauded Bellem and called Turner "the apotheosis of all private detectives...out of Ma Barker by Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade." And fellow pulpster Frank Gruber allowed, in his memoirs, that Bellem was a rather eccentric character himself, so let's just assume he knew what he was doing.

But I bet Bellem didn't take himself very seriously. And neither should we. Let's just enjoy him. I mean, "dead as six buckets of fish bait"? You have to be one sad sack of a gazabo not to get a chuckle out of that one.

When the the pulps finally sputtered to an end in the fifties, Bellem dusted himself off and switched to writing for television. He penned numerous scripts, most notably for The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Superman, Perry Mason and 77 Sunset Strip.

But of all the characters he created, none had the staying power of Dan the Man.

THE EVIDENCE

  • "She was a hell of a sweet number. Her skin was as warm and smooth as new cream, and she had what it takes to drive a man utsnay."

-- Dead Man's Head

SHORT STORIES

  • Incomplete. I bet even Bellem couldn't provide a complete list.

  • "Murder By Proxy" (June 1934, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Diamonds of Death" (July 1934, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Scoop!" (July 1934, Spicy Detective; Ted McFarland; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Dead Man's Bed" (August 1934, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death by Telephone" (September 1934, ; Spicy DetectiveDan Turner)
  • "The Waterloo of Willie the Dip" (September 1934; Spicy Detective; as Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Sleeping Dogs" (September 1934, Spicy Detective Stories; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder at Malibu" (October 1934, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Bracelets for a Lady" (October 1934, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Murder for Fame" (November 1934, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Fifty Grand in Rubies" (November 1934, Spicy Detective; John Allison; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Girl With Green Eyes" "December 1934, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death On Location" (February 1935, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Fog Over Limehouse" (February 1935, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "The Horoscope Case" (March 1935; Dan Turner)
  • "Cop Trap" (March 1935, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Bullet From Nowhere" (April 1935, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Temporary Corpse" (May 1935, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Night Scene" (May 1935, Spicy Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Corpse Without a Face" (May 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "The Cache Car" (May 1935, Spicy Detective; Ted McFarland; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Murder Masquerade" (June 1935; Dan Turner)
  • "Fangs of the Bat" (June 1935, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Five-Grand Fee" (July 1935; Dan Turner?)
  • "The Peacock Clue" (July 1935, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Dead Man's Head" (August 1935, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Executioner" (August 1935, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Dead Legs Walk" (August 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Cats of Cassandra" (August 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka as "Eyes of the Cat;" by R. L. Morris)
  • "Mistress of Serpents" (September 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Voice from Beyond" (September 1935; Dan Turner)
  • "Master of Death" (September 1935, Spicy Mystery)
  • "The Blood Drinkers" (September 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Death's Bright Halo" (October 1935, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Command to Kill" (October 1935, Spicy Mystery)
  • "The Belled Rat" (October 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Castle Sinister" (October 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Too Many Diamonds" (November 1935, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Beyond Justice" (November 1935, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Man Who Was Not" (November 1935, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Murder from Nowhere" (November 1935, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "The Fall of Frisco Freddie" (November 1935, Spicy Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Murder's Message" (December 1935; Dan Turner)
  • "The Crimson Crone" (December 1935, Spicy Mystery)
  • "A Comet Passes" (January 1936, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Labyrinth of Souls" (January 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Portrait of Terror" (January 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Shadows Pass" (February 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Graveyard Honeymoon" (February 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Murder Takes an Alibi" (February 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Beyond the Veil" (March 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Dark Splendor" (March 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Taupoo Dance" (April 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Smuggler's Subterfuge" (April 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Trick of the Trade" by Richard Lathrop Steed)
  • "Cooked" (May 1936, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Cavern of the Faceless" (May 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "You Can't Try a Corpse" (May 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "She Who Was Dead" (May 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "The Million Buck Snatch" (June 1936, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Surgeon of Souls" (June 1936, Spicy Mystery; Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Fate of the Faulains" (June 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Death's Chrysalis" (June 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Death, Advanced Stage" by Walter Cook)
  • "The Second Dagger" (July 1936; Dan Turner)
  • "Death's Nocturne" (July 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Numbers" (July 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Pineapple Policy" by Perry Watson)
  • "Code of Valor" (August 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Gold Code" by Richard Lathrop Steed)
  • "Dead Man's Head" (August 1936; Dan Turner)
  • "Reunion Beyond" (August 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Falling Star" (September 1936, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Flowers of Desire" (September 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Fatal Make-Up" (October 3, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly; Buck Whalen)
  • "Silverscreen Spectre" (October 1936, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Bullets at Bledsoe's" (October 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "I Must Have Five Corpse" (November 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Jerome Severs Perry)
  • "Crooner's Caress" (November 1936, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "From the Sea" (December 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "Death Orchids" (December 1936, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Dog of Death" by L. N. Snyder)
  • "Death's Passenger" (December 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Hell's Dark Fragrance" (December 1936, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "The Moon God Takes" (December 1936, Spicy Mystery)
  • "A Deal for Denver Dave" (January 1937, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Death's Diary" (February 1937, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Bitter Reckoning" (March 1937, Spicy Mystery; Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Death for a Name" (April 1937; Dan Turner)
  • "Sacrifice Rap" (April 1937, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "When the Dead Awaken" (April 1937, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Murder Debt" (May 1937, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Murder Claws" (May 1937; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder on the Sound Stage" (June 1937, Private Detective Stories; Dan Turner)
  • "Corpse in the Close" (July 1937; Dan Turner)
  • "Thirty Seconds" (July 1937, Spicy Mystery; aka "30 Seconds Death;" Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Star Chamber" (August 1937, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death's Detour" (August 1937, Spicy Mystery; Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Frozen Fire" (September 1937; Dan Turner?)
  • "The Corpse Screams Twice" (September 1937, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Veiled Lady" (October 1937, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Find That Corpse" (November 1937, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Gallows Heritage" (December 1937, Spicy Mystery; Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Dark Star of Death" (January 1938, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Duty and the Beast" (January 1938, ; by Ellery Watson Calder)Spicy Detective
  • "Silverscreen Shakedown" (April 1938, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Killer's Method" (April 1938, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Fifty Percent True" by Max Neilson)
  • "Brunette Bump-Off" (May 1938, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Color Scheme" (June 1938; Dan Turner).
  • "Ghost Cavalcade" (June 1938, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "Burn Witch Burn;" by Clark Nelson)
  • "Killer's Harvest" (July 1938, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Front for a Killer" (July 1938, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Appointment with a Corpse" (September 1938, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Alimony League" (September 1938, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Strange Journey" (October 1938, Spicy Mystery; Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Drums in the Distance" (October 1938, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Payroll Pay-Off" (November 1938, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Blackmail From Beyond" (November 1938, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Dark Eyes of Hell" (December 1938, Spicy Mystery; Dr. Zarkov)
  • "Crimson Quest" (February 1939, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Ghost of the Sea" (February 1939, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Murder Car" (February 1939, Private Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Kill That Deadline" (February 1939, Romantic Detective; Ken Fitch, City Editor)
  • "Snow Flight" (March 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Merely Murder" (April 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Design for Dying" (April 1939, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Muggles Mess-Up" (May 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Dead Lips Can't Talk" (July 1939, Spicy Detective; John Allison; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Bullet Pay-Off" (August 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder; aka "For the Murderer;" by John Phillips)
  • "Photograph Finish" (August 1939; Dan Turner)
  • "Rifle Mike" (September 1939; Dan Turner).
  • "Ringside Seat for Murder" (September 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "The Corpse Accuses" (October 1939, Spicy Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Murder from the Grave" (October 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Killers Running Wild" (November 1939, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Badger Bump" (February 1940, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Murder Claws" (April 1940; Dan Turner?)
  • "Peril for Sale" (April 1940, Detective Dime Novels; Nick Ransom)
  • "Drunk, Disorderly and Dead" (June 1940, Private Detective Stories; Dan Turner)
  • "Thug's Threshold" (June 1940; Dan Turner)
  • "Diamond Fingerprints" (June 1940,; by Ellery Watson Calder) Spicy Detective
  • "Danger's Delegate" (June 1940, Red Star Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Pinball Pay-Off" (July 1940, Private Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Death Dubbed In" (July 1940, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Crimson Ritual" (August 1940; Dan Turner)
  • "Hazard's Harvest" (August 1940, Red Star Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Study in Copper" (August 1940, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Death's Blue Discs" (September 1940; Dan Turner)
  • "Jeopardy's Jackpot" (October 1940, Red Star Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Premiere in Purgatory" (November 1940; Dan Turner)
  • "Death's Passport" (December 1940; Dan Turner)
  • "Angel in Hell" (December 1940, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Cat Act" (February 1941, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Reckoning in Red" (March 1941; Dan Turner).
  • "Killer's Cue" (April 1941, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Future Book" (May 1941, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death by Arrangement" (July 1941; Dan Turner)
  • "Witch Hunt" (August 1941, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Boomerang Blunder" (August 1941, Spicy Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Risks Redoubled" (August 1941, Double Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Murder On The Sound Stage" (January 1942, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Cooked!" (January 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Death Dance" (January 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "A Comet Passes" (January 1942, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "The Horoscope Case" (January 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Million Buck Snatch" (January 1942, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Murder on the Sound Stage" (January 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Murder's Messenger" (January 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Bullet From Nowhere" (January 1942, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Million Buck Snatch" (January 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Death in the Doghouse" (February 1942; Dan Turner)
  • "Beyond Justice" (April 1942; Dan Turner)
  • "Death on Location" (April 1942; Dan Turner?)
  • "Murder for Fame" (April 1942; Dan Turner?)
  • "Payoff on Peril" (April 1942; Dan Turner?)
  • "Star Chamber" (April 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Skyrocket Copper" (May 1942, Mammoth Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Killer's Keepsake" (June 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Killer's Keepsake" (June 1942, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Blood Cargo (June 1942, Popular Detective; by Walt Bruce**; Dr. Zeng)
  • "Lady Scarface" (July 1942; Dan Turner?)
  • "Puzzle in Purple (July 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Forgery's Foil" (August 1942, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Star Chamber" (1942; also Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective #2; Dan Turner)
  • "Death’s Dark Star" (October 1942, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Four Minutes Past Nine" (October 1942; Dan Turner?)
  • "Sinister House (October 1942, Popular Detective; by Walt Bruce**; Dr. Zeng)
  • "Hell's Ice-Box" (October 1942, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "The Days of Death" (November 1942, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Riddle in Red" (November 1942, Spicy Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Broken Melody" (December 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Daughter of Murder" (December 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "Killer's Union" (December 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "League of Leeches" (December 1942; Dan Turner?)
  • "Malibu Mess" (December 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "The Color of Murder" (December 1942; Dan Turner).
  • "The Caribbean Cask" (December 1942, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Eyes of the Dead" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Glittering Clue" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Headlines in Hell" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Homicide Parallel" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Murder in Yellow" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Sleeping Dogs" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Snake Tangle" (January 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "The Murdered Mummy" (January 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Murder Between Shifts" (January 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Cauldron of Death" (February 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Homicide Hunch" (February 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Feature Snatch" (February 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Heads You Lose" (February 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Camelback Kill (February 1943, Popular Detective; by Walt Bruce**; Dr. Zeng)
  • "Murder's Migrants" (March 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Russian Run-Around" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dead Man's Shakedown" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Killer's Investment" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Satan's Shrine" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Sing Me a Song of Murder" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Case of the Slain Gorilla" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Water Cooled" (March 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death For a Flying Dutchman" (April 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Dead Man's Guilt" (May 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Dissolve Shot" (May 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Monster's Malice" (May 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Shakedown Sham" (May 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Homicide Heiress" (June 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Lion's Loot (June 1943, Popular Detective; by Walt Bruce**; Dr. Zeng)
  • "Death's Blind Date" (July 1943, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Curse of the Masters" (August 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Homicide House" (August 1943, Speed Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Keeper of the Frame" (September 1943, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Corpse on Ice" (September 1943,; ) Hollywood DetectiveDan Turner
  • "Death Begins at Forty" (September 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dump the Jackpot" (September 1943, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Homicide Plum" (September 1943, Hollywood Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry; Little Jack Horner)
  • "Dead Man's Code" (October 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Pipeline to Murder" (October 1943, Super-Detective; by John Grange*; Jim Anthony)
  • "Homicide Highball" (October 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "King-Size Kill" (October 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder Off the Record" (October 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death's Dress Rehearsal" (November 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Half-Size Homicide" (November 1943; Dan Turner).
  • "Cat Act" (November 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Coffin Bait" (November 1943, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Slice of Murder" (December 1943, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "The Lake of the Left-Hand Moon" (December 1943, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Seer Sees Death" (December 1943, Hollywood Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry; Little Jack Horner)
  • "Blackmail Clinic (December 1943, Popular Detective; by Walt Bruce**; Dr. Zeng)
  • "Focus On Death" (January 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Widow By Proxy" (January 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Coffin Frame" (January 1944, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dead Heat" (January 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Focus on Death" (January 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Killer's Credentials" (January 1944, Speed Mystery; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Stunt Men Die Hard" (February 1944, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder, Sam Devlin)
  • "Killer's Legacy" (February 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Over the Hill to the Death House" (February 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Vanishing Vampire" (February 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Killer's Cure" (March 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Odds on the Eight-Ball" (March 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder at Auction" (March 1944, Hollywood Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry; Little Jack Horner)
  • "Pistol-Packing Premiere" (April 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Killer's Contract" (May 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Tree of the Pointing Finger" (June 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Sleep for a Dreamer" (June 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Stock Shot" (July 1944, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dan Turner Deals an Ace" (July 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Kidnap Ticket" (July 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Stock Shot" (July 1944; Dan Turner).
  • "Corpse Cargo (August 1944, Popular Detective; by Walt Bruce**; Dr. Zeng)
  • "Killer's Clue" (October 1944; Dan Turner).
  • "Stars Die at Night" (October 1944; Dan Turner).
  • "Killer's Clue" (October 1944, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Big Fix" (October 1944, Hollywood Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry; Little Jack Horner)
  • "Gun From Gotham" (1944; aka "Sleep For a Dreamer"; Dan Turner)
  • "Sleep For a Dreamer" (1944; Dan Turner)
  • "A Corpse Comes Home" (January 1945, Hollywood Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry; Little Jack Horner)
  • "Murder Has Four Letters" (February 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Morgue Case" (February 1945, Speed Detective; Dan Turner).
  • "Snatch Buster" (April 1945, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Suicide Stunt" (April 1945, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dolly Shot" (June 1945, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Dead Don't Dream" (July 1945; Dan Turner)
  • "Funeral Fade-Out" (August 1945, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Pin-Up Corpse" (August 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Crazy for the Kill" (October 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Frame Around a Fall Guy" (October 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Lady Regrets" (October 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Book of the Phantom Bullet" (December 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Coffin for a Coward" (December 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dog's Life" (December 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Poison Payoff" (December 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Ruby Ransom" (December 1945, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Green Heat" (February 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Homicide Surprise..." (February 1946; Dan Turner)
  • "Kill Me Again" (February 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder - N.S.F." (February 1946; Dan Turner).
  • "Red Night" (February 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Syndicate Snatch" (February 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Arrangement for Murder" (April 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Fangs for the Memory" (April 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Freak Snow" (April 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder from Music" (April 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Dirge for a Phony" (July 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Queen Was in Her Coffin" (July 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Serial Kill" (July 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Corpse for a Day" (July 1946, Super-Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Graveyard Serenade" (July 1946, Private Detective Stories; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Latin Blood" (August 1946, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Island of Doom" (September 1946, Super-Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Gallows Dance" (October 1946, Speed Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Careless Corpse" (November 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Riddle Thumbs a Ride" (November 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Treachery Pulls the Trigger" (November 1946, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Come Die For Me" (December 1946, Speed Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Killery in the Card" (January 1947, Hollywood Detective; by Jerome Severs Perry; Little Jack Horner)
  • "Hair of the Dog" (January 1947, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Encore for Death" (June 1947, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Suicide Scenario" (February 1948, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Mahatma of Mayhem" (April 1948, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Death Ends the Scene" (May 1948, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Wired Alibi" (May 1948, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The 9th Doll" (August 1948, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Off-Stage Murder" (November 1948, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Homicide Spike" (November 1948, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Serenade with Slugs" (December 1948, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Make with the Mayhem" (February 1949; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder Muscles In" (February 1949; Dan Turner)
  • "Homicide Shaft" (April 1949, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Reefer Reel" (June 1949, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Preview of Murder" (June 1949, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Wire Trap" (October 1949, Super-Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Puzzle in Peril" (October 1949, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Music of Doom" (December 1949; Dan Turner)
  • "Starring Death!" (December 1949; Dan Turner)
  • "Quickie Kill" (January 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Terror on the Doorstep" (January 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Model for a Corpse" (February 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death on the Set" (February 1950; Dan Turner)
  • "Gambling Corpse" (February 1950, Super-Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Blind Man's Fluff" (February 1950, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Headline to Kill" (March 1950, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Action! Camera! - Drop Dead!" (April 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Avenger in Red" (May 1950, Hollywood Detective; by Ellery Watson Calder)
  • "Cast For Murder" (June 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Cutie in a Coffin" (June 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Death in the Spotlight" (August 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "The Doomed Quartet" (August 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Curtains for a Corpse" (August 1950, Hollywood Detective; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder Steals the Scene" (August 1950, Thrilling Detective; Nick Ransom)
  • "Diamonds of Death" (August 1950; Dan Turner)
  • "Murder Wears Makeup" (August 1950; Dan Turner)

NOVELS

  • Blue Murder (1938
  • Half-Past Mortem (1947, Sam Welpton; as by John A. Saxon)
  • Liability Limited (1947, as by John A. Saxon; aka "This Was No Accident;" Sam Welpton)
  • The Window with the Sleeping Nude (1950)

COLLECTIONS

  • I'm not sure if Bellem's stories are public domain or not, but there certainly are a lot of dodgy collections and facsimile reprints by a lot of questionable publishers who seem to be ripping off the estate -- or each other. While some are quite presentable, others are shoddy, poorly produced POD jobs that look like they were spat out by a photocopy machine that needs a new toner cartridge or ebooks that are only slightly less decipherable than an insurance policy written on an Etch-a-Sketch. Buyer beware.

  • God's Gift to the Sherlock Business: Two Adventures of Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective (1981, Air Pirates; Dan Turner).
  • Robert Leslie Bellem's Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective (1983; edited by John Wooley; Dan Turner)....Buy this book
  • Spicy Detective Encores No. 1: Three Dan Turner Stories (1986; Dan Turner).
  • Spicy Detective Encores No. 5: Three More Dan Turner Stories (1987; Dan Turner).
  • Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective: Lights! Camera! Murder! (1990, Eternity Comics; Dan Turner).
  • Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective: Lights! Camera! Murder! (1990, Malibu Graphics; edited by Tom Mason; Dan Turner).

Movie tie-in with several reprints of Turner stories, both prose and comics.

  • Reckoning in Red: From the Case Files of Dan Turner, P.I., Volume 1 (2001; Dan Turner).
  • High Adventure Number 60: Dan Turner Hollywood Detective (2001, edited by John Gunnison; Dan Turner).

Reprints the entire contents (7 stories) of Dan Turner Hollywood Detective, January 1943.

Includes seven stories.

  • Killer's Ruse (2005, edited by Jerry L. Schneider)

Reprints from Private Detective, Super-Detective and Fifth Column Stories.

  • Knife in the Dark and Other Stories (2005, edited by Jerry L. Schneider)

Reprints from Gay Parisienne, Snappy, Spicy Detective and others.

Seven Bellem tales from pulp magazines such as Spicy Mystery Stories, Fifth Column Stories, and The Ghost -- Super-Detective. Intro by Darrell Schweitzer.

Includes several Dan Turner stories.

  • Deja Vue! I've Read That Before! (2008, CreateSpace)....Buy this book

Bellem was not above recycling his work, as evidenced by these six pairs of stories (the original plus the revised version), five featuring Dan Turner.

Contains all six stories.

Collection of non-fiction articles on and by Bellem.

FILMS

  • BLACKMAIL
    (1947, Republic)
    Based on the short story "Stock Shot" by Robert Leslie Bellem
    Screenplay by Royal B. Cole
    Directed by Lesley Selander
    Starring William Marshall as DAN TURNER
    and Grant Withers as Inspector Donaldson
    Also starring Adele Mara, Ricardo Cortez, Stephanie Bachelor, Roy Barcroft, Tristram Coffin, Richard Fraser, Gregory Gaye, George J. Lewis, Eva Novak, Grant Withers, Bud Wolfe

Arthur Lyons, in his Death on the Cheap, says this one's "in the running for the worst tough-guy private eye movie ever made."

  • THE RAVEN RED KISS-OFF
    (1990, fries Entertainment)
    Based on characters created by Robert Leslie Bellem
    Screenplay by John Wooley
    Directed by Christopher Lewis
    Produced by Linda and Christopher Lewis
    Starring Marc Singer as DAN TURNER, HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE
    Also starring Tracy Scoggins, Nicholas Worth, Arte Johnson

COMIC STORIES

  • Besides the more than 300 short stories, Dan Turner also appeared in over 50 (and possibly as many as 100) comic stories and countless reprints. The four-page comic strip stories, all black and white, and frequently untitled, and all scripted by Bellem, most drawn by Adolphe Barreaux, originally appeared as backup features, alongside prose stories, in Spicy Detective, Hollywood Detective and Spicy Detective. They were later reprinted, in full colour, in Crime Smashers, in the 1950's and restored to their original black and white glory, in Spicy Tales: A Naughty Anthology, a 1980's bi-monthly that featured reprints of comic stories from the pulps. Finally, in 1991, Turner fan John Wooley unleashed all-new, original Turner comic stories in a short-lived (four issues) string of comic books, called (what else?) Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective. Some older reprints appeared as back-up.

  • HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE
    Written by Robert Leslie Bellem
    Art by Adolphe Barreaux

  • "Corpse from the Sky" (April 1934, Hollywood Detective; rep: March 1991, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective)
  • "The Murdered Mummy" (January 1943, Spicy Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #1)
  • "Murder With Music" (July 1943, Spicy Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #2)
  • "Zoot Suit Killers" (January 1943, Hollywood Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #3)
  • "Killer's Foil" (March 1944, Spicy Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #4)
  • "Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective" (June 1944, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Sinister Santa Claus" (October 1944, Spicy Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #5)
  • "Quicksand Caper" (April 1945, Spicy Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #6)
  • "Homicide Double" (December 1945, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Alibi Policy" (November 1946, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Crash Kill" (January 1947, Hollywood Detective; rep: March 1991, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective" (May 1948, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Blackmail Bump Off" (June 1949, Hollywood Detective; rep: May 1991, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective #1)
  • "Murder Mine" (September 1947, Spicy Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #7)
  • "Televised Frame" (October 1949, Hollywood Detective; rep: Spicy Tales #8)
  • "Bullwhip Bump-Off" (December 1950, Crime Smashers; rep: Spicy Tales #19)
  • "Make-Up for Murder" (April 1951, Crime Smashers #4; rep: Spicy Tales #18)
  • "Bellyboard Bump-Off" (July 1951, Crime Smashers #5; rep: Spicy Tales #14)
  • "Bear-Trap Kill" (January 1952, Crime Smashers #8; rep: Spicy Tales #8)
  • "Death Trumps The Joker" (May 1952, Crime Smashers #10; rep: Spicy Tales #17)
  • "Strangler's Ballet" (November 1952, Crime Smashers #13)
  • "The Poisoned Puppet" (March 1953, Crime Smashers #15; rep: Spicy Tales #15)
  • "Murder in Wax" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "Roman Holiday Murders" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "Murder in Miniature" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "The Case of the Homicide Dive" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "Zoot Suit Killers" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "Death Crusade" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "Killer's Foil" (Hollywood Detective)
  • "The Star Chamber" (September 1991, Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective)
  • "Corpse from the Sky"

  • DAN TURNER, HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE
    (1991, Eternity Comics)
    Four issues
    Written by John Wooley
    Adapted from stories by Robert Leslie Bellem
    Art by Kevin Tuma, Gary Dumm

  • "The Dark Star of Death" (March 1991)
  • "Ace in the Hole" (May 1991)
  • "Homicide Hunch" (July 1991)
  • "The Star Chamber" (September 1991)

COMIC COLLECTIONS

  • DAN TURNER HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE COMICS
    (2005, Pulpville Press)
    Written by Robert Leslie Bellem
    Art by Adolphe Barreaux

Reprints eight comic stories from the pages of Hollywood Detective.

REFERENCE

  • "Somewhere a Roscoe" (October 15, 1938, The New Yorker; by S.J. Perelman)

The humourist's affectionate tribute to Bellem and Turner. Required reading.

  • "Introducing The Author (July, 1941,) Fantastic Adventures
  • "A Letter from Robert Leslie Bellem (June, 1943, Writer's Digest)
  • "Break It Up!" (July 1944, Writer's Digest)

RELATED LINKS

A Russian site (I think), featuring an impressive partial bibliography, parts of which were apparently taken -- misspellings intact-- from this site.

** John Grange was the house name used by R.L.Bellem & W.T.Ballard for their Jim Anthony stories.
** Walt Bruce was the house name used by R.L.Bellem & W.T.Ballard for their Dr. Zeng stories.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Portions of the bio and bibliography were published in WordWrights Magazine as "His Typewriter Spat Ka-Chow! Robert Leslie Bellem's Dan Turner," with additional bibliographical information generously submitted by Monte Herridge.

Sorry for the lack of an author's photo, but I've been unable to find one. The photo used by Amazon on their Bellem page and a few other sources is actually that of David Goodis. Thanks to my homey, Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Without Borders, for the sharp eye.


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