(Né Salvatore Lombino. Also wrote as Evan Hunter, Hunt Collins, Richard Marsten, Curt Cannon, Ezra Hannon and John Abbott; 1926 -2005)
ED McBAIN was best known among crime fiction fans -- and rightfully so -- as the creator of the ground-breaking 87th Precinct police procedural series.
But he also managed to contribute to this genre ours with such notable gumshoes as Matt Cordell, Ben Smoke, Matthew Hope and Curt Cannon. He even wrote one of the all-time great spoofs of the genre, "Kiss Me Dudley," featuring Dudley Sledge, a private peeper who knows how to handle both women AND fish.
But his writings went far beyond just the crime genre. Under a slew of pseudonyms, he wrote horror, science fiction, melodrama, westerns and children's books. He wrote short stories, novels, television shows, films and even a couple of plays, and saw much of his work adapted to both TV and film. In fact, his first large-scale success was the film version of his novel The Blackboard Jungle.
Still, he'll always be remembered for creating the cops of the 87th Precinct, Isola's finest.
Why Isola, instead of New York City? Here's McBain's take on it, from The Craft of Crime, edited by John C. Carr, Houghton Mifflin, 1983:
"When I started writing the first book, I found I was on the phone with the cops every ten minutes to check something...I thought, 'This is getting to be a headache; I'm going to be spending more time talking to the cops than writing the books." And I said, 'I'm going to make this an imaginary city."
And hence Isola (it means "island" in Italian) was born. He goes on to say how much he enjoys making up "baloney" about Isola. It's obvious from the interview that McBain is serious about his work, but he never takes himself too seriously.
* * * * *
Born Salvatore Albert Lombino in 1926 in New York City, he legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952. While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956. He also used the pen names John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, Dean Hudson, and Richard Marsten.
Salvatore Lombino was born and raised in New York City. He lived in East Harlem until age 12, when his family moved to the Bronx. He attended Olinville Junior High School, then Evander Childs High School, before winning an Art Students League scholarship. Later, he was admitted as an art student at Cooper Union. Lombino served in the Navy in World War II and wrote several short stories while serving aboard a destroyer in the Pacific. However, none of these stories was published until after he had established himself as an author in the 1950s.
After the war, Lombino returned to New York and attended Hunter College, where he majored in English and psychology, with minors in dramatics and education, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He published a weekly column in the Hunter College newspaper as "S.A. Lombino". In 1981, Lombino was inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame, where he was honored for outstanding professional achievement.
While looking to start a career as a writer, Lombino took a variety of jobs, including 17 days as a teacher at Bronx Vocational High School in September 1950. This experience would later form the basis for his novel Blackboard Jungle (1954), written under the pen name Evan Hunter.
In 1951, Lombino took a job as an executive editor for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, working with authors such as Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, Lester del Rey, Richard S. Prather, and P. G. Wodehouse. He made his first professional short story sale that same year, a science-fiction tale titled "Welcome Martians", credited to S.A. Lombino.
Soon after his initial sale, Lombino sold stories under the pen names Evan Hunter and Hunt Collins. The name Evan Hunter is generally believed to have been derived from two schools he attended, Evander Childs High School and Hunter College, although the author himself would never confirm that. (He did confirm that Hunt Collins was derived from Hunter College.) Lombino legally changed his name to Evan Hunter in May 1952, after an editor told him that a novel he wrote would sell more copies if credited to Evan Hunter than to S.A. Lombino. Thereafter, he used the name Evan Hunter both personally and professionally.
As Evan Hunter, he gained notice with his novel Blackboard Jungle (1954) dealing with juvenile crime and the New York City public school system. The film adaptation followed in 1955.
During this era, Hunter also wrote a great deal of genre fiction. He was advised by his agents that publishing too much fiction under the Hunter byline, or publishing any crime fiction as Evan Hunter, might weaken his literary reputation. Consequently, during the 1950s Hunter used the pseudonyms Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, and Richard Marsten for much of his crime fiction. A prolific author in several genres, Hunter also published approximately two dozen science fiction stories and four science-fiction novels between 1951 and 1956 under the names S.A. Lombino, Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, D.A. Addams, and Ted Taine.
Ed McBain, his best known pseudonym, was first used with Cop Hater (1956), the first novel in the 87th Precinct crime series. Hunter revealed that he was McBain in 1958 but continued to use the pseudonym for decades, notably for the 87th Precinct series, and the Matthew Hope detective series. He retired the pen names Addams, Cannon, Collins, Marsten, and Taine around 1960. From then on crime novels were generally attributed to McBain and other sorts of fiction to Hunter. Reprints of crime-oriented stories and novels written in the 1950s previously attributed to other pseudonyms were re-issued under the McBain byline. Hunter stated that the division of names allowed readers to know what to expect: McBain novels had a consistent writing style, while Hunter novels were more varied.
Under the Hunter name, novels steadily appeared throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, including Come Winter (1973) and Lizzie (1984). Hunter was also successful as screenwriter for film and television. He wrote the screenplay for the Hitchcock film The Birds (1963), loosely adapted from Daphne du Maurier's eponymous 1952 novelette. In the process of adapting Winston Graham's novel Marnie (1961) for Hitchcock, Hunter and the director disagreed on the rape scene, and the writer was sacked. Hunter's other screenplays included Strangers When We Meet (1960), based on his own 1958 novel; and Fuzz (1972), based on his eponymous 1968 87th Precinct novel, which he had written as Ed McBain.
From 1958 until his death, McBain's 87th Precinct novels appeared at a rate of approximately one or two novels a year. Additionally, NBC ran a police drama called 87th Precinct during the 1961ñ62 season, based on McBain's work.
From 1978 to 1998, McBain published a series about lawyer Matthew Hope; books in this series appeared every year or two, and usually had titles derived from well-known children's stories. For about a decade, from 1984 to 1994, Hunter published no fiction under his own name. In 2000, a novel called Candyland appeared that was credited to both Hunter and McBain. The two-part novel opened in Hunter's psychologically-based narrative voice before switching to McBain's customary police procedural style.
Aside from McBain, Hunter used at least two other pseudonyms for his fiction after 1960: Doors (1975), which was originally attributed to Ezra Hannon, before being reissued as a work by McBain, and Scimitar (1992), which was credited to John Abbott.
Hunter gave advice to other authors in his article, "Dig in and get it done: no-nonsense advice from a prolific author (aka Ed McBain) on starting and finishing your novel". In it, he advised authors to "find their voice for it is the most important thing in any novel".
A heavy smoker for many decades, Hunter had three heart attacks over a number of years (his first in 1989) and was found to have a precancerous lesion on his larynx in 1992. This was removed, but the problem later returned, and Hunter died from laryngeal cancer in 2005, aged 78, in Weston, Connecticut..Enjoy! Your comments and feedback are always welcome.
Unless otherwise noted, I'm assuming these stories appeared as by Ed McBain.
"Dead Freight" (February 1952, Famous Detective Stories; Guthrie Lamb; as Hunt Collins)
"The Body Beautiful" (May 1952, Famous Detective Stories; Guthrie Lamb; as Hunt Collins)
"Let the Gods Decide (Off-Trail Special)" (July 1952, Ten Story Sports; as Hunt Collins)
"A-Hanging We Will Go!" (September 1952, Smashing Detective Stories; as Hunt Collins; aka "Off-Trail Murder Mystery")
"The Little Man" (October 1952, Famous Western; as Salvatore Lombino)
"P-A-T-R-O-L" (November 1952, War Stories Magazine; as Hunt Collins)
Collection of 25 stories (including intros by McBain himself) from the fifties show the writer in fine form, spinning hard-boiled of alcoholic dicks and other losers, plus one of the all-time great P.I. parodies, "Kiss Me Dudley."
Me and Hitch (1997; as Evan Hunter)
Memoirs of his experience with director Alfed Hithcock, working on The Birds.
BLACKBOARD JUNGLE...Buy this video
101 minutes, black & white Based on the novel by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Richard Brooks Directed by Richard Brooks Produced by Pandro S. Berman Starring Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Louis Calhern, Margaret Hayes, John Hoyt, Richard Kiley, Emile Meyer, Warner Anderson, Basil Ruysdael, Sidney Poitier, Vic Morrow, Dan Terranova, Rafael Campos, Paul Mazursky, Horace McMahon, Jamie Farr, Danny Dennis Classic fifties JD flick, based on McBain's book. Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" supplies the rock'n'roll heart. .
(1958, Barbizon/United Artists)
Black & White Based on the 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain Screenplay by Henry Kane Directed by William Berke Starring Robert Loggia , Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Shirley Ballard, Russell Hardie, Hal Riddle, William Neff, Gene Miller, Vincent Gardenia and Jerry Orbach .
(1958, Barbizon/United Artists)
Black & White Based on the 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain Screenplay by Henry Kane Directed by William Berke Starring Kent Smith, Nan Martin, James Franciscus, Stefan Schnabel, Dick O'Neill, John Alexander, Arthur Storch, Bert Thorn, Albert Dannibal, Dolores Sutton, Beah Richards, George Maharis, Michael Conrad
STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET
(1960, Columbia) Screenplay by Evan Hunter Based on the novel by Evan Hunter Directed by Richard Quine Produced by Richard Quine Starring Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau, Virginia Bruce, Kent Smith, Helen Gallagher, John Bryant, Roberta Shore, Nancy Kovack, Carol Douglas Soap opera, apparently heavy on the suds. .
THE YOUNG SAVAGES...Buy this video
(1961, MGM/UA) Based on the novel "A Matter of Conviction" by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Edward Anhalt, J.P. Miller
Directed by John Frankenheimer Produced by Harold Hecht Executive producer: Pat Duggan Starring Burt Lancaster, Dina Merrill, Edward Andrews, Vivian Nathan, Shelley Winters, Larry Gates, Telly Savalas, Pilar Seurat, Jody Fair, Roberta Shore, Milton Selzer, Robert Burton, David J. Stewart, Stanley Kristien DA investigates the case of three Italian teenagers accused of murdering a blind Puerto Rican boy. .
TENGOKU TO JIGOKU (English title: "High and Low," aka "Heaven and Hell," "The Ransom")
(1963) Based on the 87th Precinct novel "King's Ransom" by Ed McBain Directed by Akira Kurasawa
Set in Tokyo Starring Toshiro Mifune
THE BIRDS...Buy this DVD...Buy this video
(1963) Based on the story by Daphne DuMaurier Screenplay by Evan Hunter Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Produced by Alfred Hitchcock Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Ruth McDevitt, Lonny Chapman, Joe Mantell, Doodles Weaver, Malcolm Atterbury, John McGovern
AKA Woman Without a Face
100 minutes, black & white Based on the novel "Buddwing" by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Dale Wasserman Directed by Delbert Mann( Produced by Douglas Laurence, Delbert Mann Starring James Garner, Jean Simmons, Katharine Ross, Angela Lansbury, George Voskovec, Jack Gilford, Joe Mantell, Raymond St. Jacques, Ken Lynch, Wolfgang Zilzer, Beeson Carroll Garner as an amnesiac wandering NYC, trying to figure out who he is.
LAST SUMMER (1969, Allied Artists Pictures Corporation)
95 minutes Based on the novel by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Eleanor Perry Directed by Frank Perry Produced by Sidney Beckerman, Alfred W. Crown Starring Barbara Hershey, Richard Thomas, Bruce Davison, Catherine Burns, Ernesto Gonzalez, Lou Gary, Andrew Krance, Wayne Mayer, Peter Turgeon, Lydia Wilen Teen angst, 60s style. Based on one of Hunter's darkest, most disturbing novels, it was given an X rating when it was first submitted to the MPAA due to to a rape scene, and was subsequently toned down to give it an R rating. The original X-rated version never saw the light of day.
LE CRI DU CORMORAN, LE SOIR AU-DESSUS DES JONQUES
AKA Cry of the Cormoran
(1970, Gaumont) Based on the novel by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Michel Audiard Directed by Michel Audiard Starring Michel Serrault , Bernard Blier, Paul Meurisse, Marion Game, Françoise Giret, Sylvie Bréal, Nancy Holloway, Jean Carmet, Maurice Biraud, Carlos French caper flick. .
WITHOUT APPARENT MOTIVE
(1972) Based on the 87th Precinct novel Ten Plus One by Ed McBain Directed by Phillippe Labro
Set on the Riviera Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Dominique Sanda
EVERY LITTLE CROOK AND NANNY
92 minutes Based on the novel by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Jonathan Axelrod, Cy Howard, Robert Klane Directed by Cy Howard Produced by Leonard J. Ackerman Starring Victor Mature, Lynn Redgrave, Paul Sand, Margaret Blye, Austin Pendleton, John Astin, Dom DeLuise, Louise Sorel, Phillip Graves, Lou Cutell, Leopoldo Trieste, Pat Morita, Phil Foster, Pat Harrington Jr., Esther Rolle Crooks kidnap a gangster's kid. .
FUZZ.. .Buy this DVD
(1972, United Artists)
92 minutes Screenplay by Evan Hunter Based on the 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain Directed by Richard A. Colla Produced by Jack Farren Starring Burt Reynolds, Jack Weston, Tom Skerritt, Yul Brynner, Raquel Welch, Peter Bonerz, Steve Ihnat, James McEachin, Bert Remsen
SANS MOBILE APPARENT
AKA Senza movente, Without Apparent Motive
(1972, Cinétel/Euro International Film/Président Films)
100 minutes Based on the 87th Precinct novel "Ten Plus One" by Ed McBain Screenplay by Philippe Labro, Jacques Lanzmann Directed by Philippe Labro Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Dominique Sanda, Sacha Distel, Carla Gravina, Paul Crauchet, Laura Antonelli, French/Italian co-production about an investigation into a string of murders comitted in Nice. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the lead detective "Stéphane Carella." .
LES LIENS DU SANG.. .Buy this DVD
(aka "Blood Relatives")
(1978, Cinevideo-Filmel/Classic Film Industries)
100 minutes Based on the 87th Precinct novel, Blood Relatives, by Ed McBain Screenplay by Sydney Banks, Claude Chabrol Directed by Claude Chabrol Starring Donald Sutherland, Aude Landry, Lisa Langlois, Laurent Malet, Stéphane Audran, Walter Massey, Micheline Lanctôt, Donald Pleasence, David Hemmings, Ian Ireland, Guy Hoffman, Marguerite Lemir, Gregory Giannis, Jan Chamberlain Canadian/French production with Donald Sutherland as Carella. .
102 minutes Based on the novel by Evan Hunter Screenplay by Evan Hunter Directed by Robert E. Collins Produced by Lawrence Turman Original music by Robby Benson, Don Peake Starring Robby Benson, Sarah Holcomb, Henry Darrow, Pepe Serna, Trinidad Silva, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Lawrence Pressman, Domingo Ambriz, Brad Sullivan, Irene DeBari Star vehicle for Robby Benson as a young Chicano gang member. Yeah, right...
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (1955-65) Writers include: Evan Hunter
30 60-minute black and white episodes Created by Ed McBain
A Hubbell Robinson Production with MCA Television Starring Robert Lansing, Norman Fell, Ron Harper, Gregory Walcott and Gena Rowlands
TV Series Writers include: Evan Hunter Starring Raymond Burr as Ironside
720 min (4 episodes) Based on the novel "The Chisholms: A Novel Of The Journey West" by Evan Hunter
Screenplay by Evan Hunter Directed by Mel Stuart Produced by Paul Freeman Executive producers: David Dortort, Alan Landsburg Original music by Elmer Bernstein Starring Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris, Ben Murphy, Brian Kerwin, James Van Patten, Stacy Nelkin, Susan Swift, Charles Frank, Glynnis O'Connor, Sandra Griego, David Hayward, Billy Drago, Anthony Zerbe Pioneer family makes their way to Oregon from Virginia in the days of the American West.
THE LEGEND OF WALKS FAR WOMAN
2 hours Teleplay by Evan Hunter Directed by Mel Damski Produced by Tony Converse, Roger Gimbel Co-producer: Lee Levinson Starring Raquel Welch, Bradford Dillman, Nick Mancuso, Eloy Casados, George Clutesi, Nick Ramus, Branscombe Richmond Raquel Welch as Indian woman out to avenge her husband's death at the hands of the white man.
Mini-series Based on the novel by David Nevin Teleplay by Evan Hunter Directed by Dick Lowry Produced by Hunt Lowry Starring Richard Chamberlain, Alice Krige, F. Murray Abraham, René Enríquez, Ben Johnson, Jerry Orbach, G.D. Spradlin, Rip Torn, Fritz Weaver, Anthony Zerbe, Claude Akins, John Anderson, Lee Bergere, Jeff East, Michael Ensign, Mel Ferrer, Cameron Mitchell, Noble Willingham, Bill Campbell, James Cromwell Ambitious mini-series purports to tell the tale of the west. Various TV stars play various historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Kit Carson and Jim Bridger..
COLUMBO (1989--, NBC) Starring Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo
"No Time to Die" (1992; based on a story by Ed McBain)
"Undercover" (1994; teleplay by Ed McBain)
ED McBAIN'S 87th PRECINCT: LIGHTNING....Buy this video...Buy this DVD AKA "ED McBAIN'S 87th PRECINCT" (1995, NBC) Based on the novel by Ed McBain Teleplay by Mike Krohn and Daniel Levine Directed by Bruce Paltrow Starring Randy Quaid, Alex McArthur, Ving Rhames, Eddie Jones, Alan Blumenfeld, Ron Perkins, Steven Flynn, Johann Carlo, Tracy Middendorf, Mary-Joan Negro, Alison Moir, Steve Park, Deanne Bray, Richard Portnow, Dayton Callie, Christopher Darga, Marquita Terry, Juney Smith By most accounts, Quaid, a generally solid and reliable actor, is totally miscast in this one.
ED McBAIN'S 87th PRECINCT: ICE.. .Buy this DVD
(February 18, 1996, NBC)
2 hour made-for-television movie Based on the novel by Ed McBain Written by Larry Cohen Directed by Bradford May Starring Dale Midkiff, Joe Pantoliano, Paul Johansson, Andrea Parker , Michael Gross
ED McBAIN'S 87th PRECINCT: HEATWAVE... .Buy this DVD
(1997, NBC) Based on the novel by Ed McBain Teleplay by Larry Cohen Directed by Douglas Barr Starring Dale Midkiff, Paul Ben-Victor, Paul Johansson, Erika Eleniak, Andrea Ferrell, Michael Gross
.THREE BLIND MICE... .Buy this DVD (2001, Viacom Productions Inc.) Based on the novel by Ed McBain Teleplay by Anne Gerard and Adam Greenman Directed by Christopher Leitch Starring Brian Dennehy as MATTHEW HOPE Also starring Debrah Farentino, Rosalind Chao, John Doman, Glenn Plummer, Mary Stuart Masterson
PROFILE OF A WRITER, VOL. 1: ED McBAIN/EVAN HUNTER...Buy this video (1993)
McBain narrates documentary on infamous ax-happy murder.
MacDonald, Erin E., Ed McBain/Evan Hunter: A Literary Companion...Buy this book
Jefferson, North Carolinia: McFarland & Company, 2012.
An astounding labour of love (and scholarship), as MacDonald, not content with spending seven years kicking the can around on a dissertation on the 87th Precinct novels, wades into the vast ocean of work McBain left us, from short stories in the pulps and digests to his bestselling police procedurtals and crime novels. Detailed overviews and an impressive listing of character-by-character breakdowns, plus oodles of bibliographic info make this an essential reference work for both fans and collectors, both encyclopedic and engaging.
Chicago cop and crime writer Jim Doherty's salute.
Respectfully submitted (and awaiting tons of corrections, I'm sure) by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Rudy, Scott Lawrence, Jerry Mastet and Ted Bergman for at least trying to keep me honest. And an extra big thanks to Erin MacDonald whose Ed McBain/Evan Hunter: A Literary Companion is just absolutely some kind of wonderful.