The P.I. Calendar
This day in P.I. history
Births, deaths, anniversaries, celebrations and other reasons to celebrate.
JANUARY January 1 Novelist and screenwriter Ernest B. Tidyman, the creator of Shaft, the black private eye who dug like a private sex machine with all the chicks, born on this day in 1928. January 1 The Adventures of Sam Spade makes its debut on CBS radio in 1946, starring Howard Duff. January 1 British author Leopold Horace Ognall passed away on this date in 1979. He was better known by the pseudonym of Hartley Howard, who wrote forty books about Glenn Bowman, a hard-boiled New York City private eye. January 1 Mystery writers Oriana Papazoglou (Gregor Demarkian) and William L. DeAndrea (Matt Cobb) get hitched in Siuth Norwalk, Conneticutt on this day in 1984. January 2 Author Isaac Asimov born on this day in Petrovici, Russia. He wrote over 400 books, most of them science fiction, of course, but he also wrote a couple of darn good mysteries, as well as one of the first truly successful sci-fi/mystery hybrids, The Caves of Steel (1953), feauring the human/robot team of detectives, Lije Baley & R.D. Olivaw. January 3 Prolific mystery author, screenwriter and playwright Rufus King, born on this day in New York City in 1893, is most famous for his Lieutenant Valcour police procedurals, but also wrote Holiday Homicide (1940), a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek pastiche of Rex Stout and Archie Goodwin, featuring high-priced sleuth Cotton Moon and his secretary-assistant-narrator, Bert Stanley. January 4 Harlan Coben, creator of Myron Bolitar, a sports agent who insists on playing private eye, born on this day in 1962. January 5 Author and film noir champion Arthur Lyons, creator of one of the finest -- and most unkustly forgotten -- private eyes to come out of the seventies, Southern California's Jacob Asch, born on this day in 1946 in -- where else? -- Los Angeles. January 6 Sherlock Holmes born on this day in 1854, at Mycroft, North Riding, Yorkshire, according to the calculations of Sherlockian scholar William S. Baring-Gould. January 7 Ed Lacy, creator of the first truly-credible black private eye, Toussaint Moore, and the winner of the Edgar for Best Novel for Room to Swing (1965), suffers a fatal heart attack in his Harlem home in 1968. Room to Swing, says Ed Gorman, is "the one that got him into heaven." January 8 Wilkie Collins, whose most popular works were The Woman in White (1860), and The Moonstone (1868), forerunner of the modern detective novel, born on this date in 1824. January 8 Dashiell Hammett's last -- and most successful novel -- The Thin Man, which introduced husband and wife sleuths Nick and Nora Charles to the world, published on this date in 1934. January 9 Actress, playwright, mystery author (maybe) and world class ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee born on this day in 1911 as Ellen June Hovick in Seattle, Washington. January 10 Dashiell Hammett dies on this date in New York City on this day in 1961. January 12 Walter Mosley, creator of Easy Rawlins, Socrates Fortlow and Leonid McGill, among others, born on this date in 1952 in Los Angeles. January 13
California mystery and sci-fi writer and unabashed fan of comic books, pulp fiction and sci-fi, Ron Goulart born in 1933. Beside penning a slew of non-fiction books on his obsessions, he created numerous private eyes including John Easy, Jake and Hildy Pace, Ben Jolson, Jim Haley, Max Kearney and even Jake Cardigan, allegedly written by William "T. J. Hambone" Shatner.
January 14 In 1938, LAPD Intelligence Squad Captain Earle Kynette blows up the car of former police chief and then-current private detective Harry Raymond. With Raymond inside it. Just in case anyone thought Los Angeles was ever the City of Angels. Fortunately Raymond survived to testify against the bastards. January 15 Dennis Lynds (aka Michael Collins, William Arden, John Crowe, Robert Hart Davis, Carl Dekker, Maxwell Grant, Mark Sadler, Sheila Lynds, Sheila McErlean, John Douglas, Walter Dallas and house pseudonyms Nick Carter, Brett Halliday, Don Pendleton & Maxwell Grant), the creator of, among others, Dan Fortune and Slot Machine Kelly, born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1924. January 16 Carroll John Daly, creator of Race Williams and whom William F. Nolan dubbed "the father of the hard-boiled private eye," died on this day in 1958 in Los Angeles. January 17 Jakob Arjourni, writer of five acclaimed novels featuring Frankfurt private eye Kemal Kayankaya, passed away on this day in 2013 after a long battle against pancreatic cancer. January 17 Benjamin M. Schutz, expert in forensic psychology, one helluva nice guy and the author of five acclaimed novels featuring Washington DC private eye Leo Haggerty, passed awasy on this date in 2008. Too soon, too soon. January 19 The Queen of Darkness, Patricia Highsmith, born on this date (as Mary Patricia Plangman) in 1921 in Texas. January 19 Edgar Allan Poe, born on this date in Boston in 1809. January 22 Cop writer Joseph Wambaugh born in Pittsburg in 1937. He gave us at least one P.I. novel, Fugitive Nights. January 24 Beer in a can makes its debut on this day in 1935, and stakeouts become a lot more fun, if not more conscientious, thanks to the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of Virginia. January 26 NYC cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer born in 1929. His P.I. novel., Ackroyd (1977), is a real head-scratcher: an existential blowout that's part-mind game and part-satire. January 27 Novelist, journalist, scriptwriter and giant finger in the eye of all pretence, Mordecai Richler born in 1931 in Montreal. He shoulda/coulda written the Great Montreal Private Eye Novel. January 28 Dora Amy Elles passes away on this date in 1961. She was bettert known as British crime writer Patricia Wentworth, who wrote 32 bestselling novels featuring spinster private eye Miss Silver. January 30 Richard Brautigan, much-beloved Beat poet and novelis who gave the world Trout Fishing in America (1967) born in 1935 in Washington, also gave us a P.I. novel, much less beloved. FEBRUARY February 1 Allan J. Pinkerton signs this contract between the Illinois Central Railroad and the Pinkerton's Detective Agency, Pinkerton & Company, agreeing to establish a "Police Agency" in Chicago to assist the Railroad in the "prompt and efficient performance of their business," on this date in 1855. February 2 Frank Gruber, proud survivor of The Pulp Jungle, born in Elmer, Minnesota in 1904. February 5 Television producer, writer, and bestselling crime novelist, Stephen J. Cannell, creator of Jim Rockford, The A-Team, Shane Scully et al, born on this day in 1941 in Los Angeles. February 5 Basil Copper, an unlikely bit appropriate name for a Brit who wrote 52 American-style hard-boiled pulp starring tough guy gumshoe Mike Faraday, born on this day in 1924. February 5 Margaret Millar born on this day in 1915 in Canada. Her early success at writing mysteries inspired her husband Ken to try his hand at it, but she wrote some damn good P.I. novels herself, most notably How Like an Angel (1962). February 5 William S. Burroughs, the Big Daddy of the Beats, born on this day in 1914. Not only did he create private eye Clem Snide, but Burroughs worked, albeit very briefly, as a private eye himself. Some critics think Snide was creared as a surrogate for Burroughs. February 14 In honour of St. Valentine's Day, here's Raymond Chandler commenting in a letter on his relationship with his wife, Cissy, who had recently passed away. February 19 Birthday (1941) of Jersey boy Stephen Dobyns, poet and novelist, who wrote several books about Saratoga milkman/private eye Charlie Bradshaw. February 22 The Thrilling Detective and The Girl Detective make ity official, 2003. February 22 Ed Hoch, serial short story writer, with over 700 stories to his credit, and creator of such series heroes as New York State cop Captain Leopold, master thief Nick Velvet, crime-solving gypsy Michael Vlado, 2000-year old Simon Ark and my favourite, private eye Al Darlan, born in Rochester, New York in 1930. February 22 Stephen Marlowe, creator of the Chester Drum series, passed away on this date. February 22 Peter Cheyney, an Englishman who learned to speak American, and gave us hard-boiled private eye Slim Callaghan and hard-boiled spy Lemmy Caution, born in 1896. February 22 Philip Kerr, creator of the acclaimed series of historical thrillers which follow hapless Berlin private eye Bernie Gunther as he gets kicked around by history before, during and after World War II, born on this day in Edinburgh in 1956. A sly mix of Chandleresque prose and LeCarre reach, the series remain a high-water mark in the genre. February 23 Dashiell Hammett stands his ground, testifying before Supreme Court in 1955. "Communism for me is not a dirty word." February 26 In memory of writer Michael Avallone (who passed away on this day in 1999) and his greatest creation, it's suggested that everyone grab a nooner. February 26 Wisconsin writer August William Derleth, born on this day, 1909, creator of Solar Pons, arguably the world's greatest Sherlock Homes pastiche. February 26 Hugh Wiley, creator of Chinese private eye James Lee Wong, born in Zanesville, Ohio in 1884 on this date. Don't blame him for the movies. February 29 Dennis Farina, Chicago cop turned film and television actor, born on this day in 1944. Best known for his television roles in Crime Story, Law and Order and, of special interest to this group, Buddy Faro, a short-lived 1998 show where he played a Rat Pack-era private eye stuck in modern day LA. MARCH March 6 One of the lost greats, Thomas B. Dewey, born on this day in Elkhart, Indianna, in 1915. His novels featuring world-weary Chicago eye Mac who bridged the gap between Philip Marlowe and Lew Archer, and laid the groundwork for such future compassionate, heart-on-their-sleeve eyes as Dan Fortune, Pronzini's Nameless and John Shannon's Jack Liffey. March 7 Versatile Japanese playwright and novelist Abe Kobo, born on this date in 1924; came up with one real headscratcher of a P.I. tale, The Ruined Map (1967). March 7 South African-born Peter Temple, best known for his novels featuring Australian P.I. Jack Irish, and for being the first Australian to win the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger (in 2007), passed away on this day in 2018. March 9 Mike Hammer creator and Miller Lite plugger Frank Morrison Spillane born on this date in 1918. Happy birthday, Mickey. March 10 Australian writer Peter Temple, best known for his novels featuring Australian P.I. Jack Irish, and for being the first Australian to win the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger (in 2007), born on this day in 1946 in South Africa. March 11 The party that was British sci-fi satirist Douglas Adams' life began on this day in1952. To celebrate, Dirk Gently will be serving tea. Bring your own towels. March 11 Fredric Brown, whose crazy-ass takes on sci-fi, fantasy and, of course, detective fiction, can still spin your head around, passed away on this date in 1972. His The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947), which introduced P.I.s Ed and Am hunter, is a must-read. March 13 Bill S. Ballinger born in Chicago in 1912; wrote two novels about Chicago P.I. Barr Breed, as well as pulp classics such as Portrait in Smoke (1950). March 17 Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by reading a book featuring an Irish private eye. We even have a few suggestions. Best served with a pint of the black. March 22 North Dakotan pulp writer Louis L'Amour born in 1908. He wrote at least four stories featuring boxer turned LA private dick Kip Morgan. The westerns ended up paying better. March 23 Popeyed actor Peter Lorre goes to that big silver screen in the sky on this date in 1964. He's best remembered as the child killer in Fritz Lang's M (1931) and as the flamboyant Joel Cairo in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon. March 23 Philip Kerr, creator of the acclaimed series of historical thrillers which follow hapless Berlin private eye Bernie Gunther as he gets kicked around by history before, during and after World War II, passes away on this day in 2018. March 24 Donald Hamilton, best known for creating a respectably hard-boiled and realistic spy, Matt Helm (before Dino turned him into a laughing stock in four atrocious movies in the sixties), born in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1916. March 26 Raymond Chandler, the man who brought poetry to the mean streets, dies on this day in 1959. March 26 Dorothy Porter, Australian poet, born on this day in 1954. She gave us one of the best lesbian P.I. novels of all time, The Monkey's Mask (1995). In verse form, no less. It was subsequently made into a pretty kick ass film, as well, starring Susie Poter and Kelly McGinnis. March 27 "Backlash of the Hunter," the two-hour television pilot which introduced James Garner as Jim Rockford, arguably TV's most beloved private eye, first airs on NBC on this date in 1974. March 28 Some may quibble, but I consider Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak and released on this date in 1958, to be a private eye film. March 29 Max Brand (real name: Frederick Faust) born on this day in 1893 in Seattle, Washington. As Max Brand, he wrote endless mystery and Western short stories for the pulps in the 1920s and 1930s. March 30 Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of beloved shyster Perry Mason, passed away on this day in 1970. March 31 Chicago author John Jakes born in 1932. Responsible for the American Bicentennial series, not to mention cocky, 5'1" private eye Johnny Havoc, a different sort of American Bastard. APRIL April 1 The Thrilling Detective Web Site goes public on this day, appropriately enough, in 1998. My life heads for the ditch... April 1 National Poetry Month (U.S.) kicks off. Those of you will an appreciation for felonious free verse are urged to head to The 5-2 for some crime poetry. April 2 Jack Webb. Television writer, actor. Born 1920. Starred in Dragnet. April 3 British mystery writer Reginald Hill born in County Durham in 1936. Although best known for his Dalziel and Pascoe police procedurals, he's also given us five delightfully soft-boiled novels about unassuming black private eye Joe Sixsmith. Shaft, he ain't. April 3 Basil Copper, an unlikely but appropriate name for a Brit who wrote 52 American-style hard-boiled pulp starring tough guy gumshoe Mike Faraday, died on this day in 2013. April 3 Bruno Richard Hauptmann, charged with the Lindbergh kidnapping, sits down in the New Jersey State Prison electric chair, still maintaining his innocence, in 1936. Those interested are urged to read Max Allan Collins' excellent 1991 novel Stolen Away, featuring private eye Nate Heller -- an astounding and as moving a piece of historical detective fiction as has ever been written. April 3 It was on this day in 1882 that that "dirty little coward" shot Mr. Howard, and laid poor Jesse James in his grave. April 5 Lee Thayer born in Troy, Pennsylvania in 1874. One of the longest writing careers on record, her last book was published in 1966 when she was 92. She wrote 60 novels, all but one featuring the red-headed private detective Peter Clancy and his faithful valet, Wiggar. April 7 Beloved American actor James Garner, who once played Chandler's iconic American private eye in the 1969 film Marlowe and then went on to create, along with Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell, his own iconic American P.I. on television's The Rockford Files from 1974-80, born on this day in 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma. April 7 Baynard H. Kendrick, one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, born in 1894. His greatest creation, blind private detective Captain Duncan Maclain, was based on World War I vets he had met. Maclain appeared in several novels and short stories and at least one film. April 8 Roman Polanski's Chinatown is awarded the Best Picture Oscar on this date in 1974, beating out The Towering Inferno, The Godfather Part II, Lenny and The Conversation, another very worthwhile P.I. flick. April 9 The Old Captain Collier Library, the first American weekly magazine exclusively devoted to crime and detective stories, first published on this date in 1883. April 11 Liza Cody, creator of Anna Lee, one of the first truly credible female private eyes (and still one of the best), in London in 1944. April 11 S.S. Van Dine, creator of the living large, monocle-wearing Philo Vance, once America's most popular detective, dies at the age of fifty in 1939, leaving less than $15,000 in his estate. April 11 Leo Rosten born in Poland in 1908, but grew up in the U.S., best known his bestsellers The Joys of Yiddish, Captain Newman, M.D. and The Education of Hyman Kaplan, but listed here for his two comic novels featuring New York private eye Silky Pincus, whose partner is a giant mutt who will only eat Kosher dog food. April 11 Peter O'Donnell, creator of sexy comic strip spy Modesty Blaise, born in 1920 in London. Although obstensibly a freelance operative, most of the time her client is the British government. April 12 Chicago writer Scott Turow whose legal thrillers are actually legal thrillers (ie: they revolve around the law and its myriad complications, and don't just feature some lawyer being chased around by gangsters and psychotic killers for 400 pages) born on this day in 1949. Turow's never written a private detective novel, per se, but the well-rendered and colorful investigators in supporting roles in his novels suggest he could certainly whack one out of the park if he chose to. April 13 Bill Pronzini, author, critic, anthologist, editor and pulp collector, born in Petaluma, California in 1943. Although he's written everything from westerns to some of the creepiest, nastiest noir imaginable, his greatest creation by far is the long running San Francisco private eye who shall remain Nameless. April 14 Pulpster and screenwriter Horace McCoy born in Pegram, Tennessee in 1897. One of the earliest contributors towhat would become known as the Black Mask style, he's best known today for such nasty, hard-boiled classic as They Shoot Horses, Don't They, No Pockets in a Shroud and Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye. He was also allegedly an uncredited script assistant on King Kong. April 15 TV and film writer, editor and crime novelist Howard Browne born in 1908 in Omaha, Nebraska. As "John Evans" he gave us three excellent private eye novels featuring Chandleresque Chicago P.I. Paul Pine, starting with Halo in Blood in 1946. The fourth and final novel in the series, The Taste of Ashes (1957), was published under his own name, and is a stone-cold classic of the genre. April 15 The Titanic sinks on this day in 1912, taking with her mystery writer Jacques Futrelle, creator of "The Thinking Machine" (aka Professor S.F.X. Van Dusen). He survived long enough to get his wife May and their daughter onto a lifeboat. April 18 Norbert Davis, king of hard-boiled screwball, born on this day in 1909. Take someone you love to Guiterrez' restaurant in Los Angeles to celebrate. Watch your wallet, and don't criticize the food. April 18 Ben Hecht, one of Hollywood & Broadway's most celebrated writers, who had a hand (often uncredited) in the writing of about a zillion classic films, including one of my favourites, the screwball P.I. caper It's a Wonderful World with Jimmy Stewart, dies on this day at the age of seventy-one, in 1964. April 18 Denmark becomes the first nation to officially recogize fingerprinting as the preferred method of criminal identification in 1902. Sales of surgical gloves skyrocket. (No, I just made that up). April 20 What many consider "the first detective story," Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," first appears in Graham's Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine on this day in 1841. April 21 He Who Must Be Celebrated: Barrister and writer John Mortimer, born on this day in Hampstead, London in 1923. Although far from hard-boiled, his greatest creation, Horace Rumpole, shares a rude wit and an unerring sense of morality -- not to mention a poetic eye -- that would not be out of place in Hammett or Chandler. April 23 World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes' death and Shakespeare's birth. Chosen by UNESCO as the day to celebrate and to promote reading, publishing and copyright. First celebrated in 1995. April 23 World Book Night, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes, death, as well as Shakespeare's birth. First celebrated in 2011. April 23 William Shakespeare. English writer, born on this date in 1564 (traditional accepted birth date, based on his April 26th baptism). To keep things neat, he also died on this day in 1616. But I think Hamlet woulda made a great private eye story.... "When a man's father is killed, he's supposed to do something about it." April 24 "B" is for Birthday. Sue Grafton, creator of immensely popular Santa Theresa private eye Kinsey Millhone, born on this day in 1940 in Louisville, Kentucky, April 25 Writer Richard Deming born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1935. A regular contributor to the crime digests and pulps of the fifties, and a writer-for-hire, cranking out TV tie-in novels by the score, his createst creation remains hard-boiled private eye Manville Moon who goes down those mean streets with an artificial leg -- a memento of WWII. April 25 Actor George Sanders, famous for his roles as Leslie Charteris' The Saint and The Falcon and co-writer, with Leigh Brackett and Craig Rice, of two mystery novels, dies on that day in 1972, by his own hand. His suicide note claims he was "bored." April 26 John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln assassin, shot and killed by U.S. troops in a tobacco barn in Virginia in 1865. Even Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston called Booth's act "a disgrace to the age." Botth's last words were "useless, useless." April 27 George Alec Effinger, American sci-fi author, dies at the age of 55, leaving behind a slew of great novels, but is best remembered for his genre-rattling cyber-punk trilogy featuring private eye Marîd Audran who plies his trade in an unnamed Arab city in the not-so-distant future that is "so grim, stark and sleazy that... it makes Blade Runner's Los Angeles look like Sunnybrook Farm." April 30 Anthony Boucher (né William Anthony Parker White), mystery author and revered critic, dies at the age of fifty-six. The Bouchercon, the annual world mystery convention, is named in his honour. April 30 D.O.A., the film noir classic starring Edmund O'Brien as a hapless sap who's been slipped a lethal dose of a slow-acting poison, makes its debut in 1949. It's got one of the all-time great noir openings: O'Brien staggers into a police station to report a murder. "Whose?" he's asked. "Mine," he replies. MAY May 1 Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-nah Batman! The Dark Knight makes his debut in Detective Comics #27, 1939. May 2 Robert A. Arthur, Jr., best known for creating the popular Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators series of YA mysteries, dies on this day in Philadelphia in 1969. May 3 One of the greatest pulpsters of all time, Frederick Nebel, creator of tough dicks such as Kennedy of The Free Press,Donahue and Cardigan, among others, died on this day in 1967. May 3 Mary Astor, Academy Award-winning American actress, best known for her portrayal of Brigid O'Shaughnessy in John Huston 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon, born on this day in 1906 in Quincy, Illinois. Her real name? Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke. May 4 Booker Prize-winning novelist Graham Swift born in London in 1949. Justly praised for such novels as Waterland and Last Orders, he also wrote the crackerjack P.I. novel The Light of Day. May 7 Sherlock Holmes, the first American Sherlock Holmes film, is released on this day in 1922. The silent film stars John Barrymore as the Great Detective and celebrated German actor Gustav von Seyffertitz as Moriarty. A young Hedda Hopper is along for the ride. May 7 Darren McGavin, perhaps best known for A Christmas Story, managed to play three television detectives listed on this site: Mike Hammer, Carl Kolchak and David Ross, born on this date in 1922. May 7 Bank robber Willie Sutton tunnels his way out of the Philly State Pen on this day in 1945, only to be promptly re-arrested by a couple of beat cops. Of course he's most famous for his retort to the question "Why do you rob banks?" His infamous reply? "Because that's where the money is." May 8 The Blue Dahlia, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake and directed by George Marshall from an original screenplay by Raymond Chandler, is released on this day in 1946. The story behind the film is better than the film itself: Chandler's contract with the studio allowed him to write the script at home, while drunk, with a nurse standing by. May 8 Novelist and literary heavyweight Thomas Pynchon born in 1937 in New York, known for his dense, complex novels, such as Gravity's Rainbow. Also the author of a P.I. novel, Inherent Vice (2009), which Publishers Weekly hailed as a "throwaway masterpiece." They were half right. May 9 Washington, D.C. native, African-American novelist, short story writer, and physician Rudolph Fisher born in 1897. He wrote what is often considered the first black American detective novel, The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem (1932), although not necessarily the first African-American to write a mystery or the first detective novel to feature an African-American sleuth. May 10 Edward L. Stratemyer, the godfather of kiddie pulp and founder of the fabled Stratemyer Syndicate, dies on this day in 1930. Stratemeyer's"Factory" pumped out hundreds of mystery and adventure novels aimed at children and young adults, including The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift and The Bobbsey Twins. American youth has yet to recover. May 12 On this day in 1907 Leslie Charteris, creator of Simon "The Saint" Templar, adventurer and modern day Robin Hood, is born in Singapore to his English mother and his Chinese father. His birth name is Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin. May 12 Oakley Hall, who as Jason Manor, wrote three mysteries featuring California private eye Steve Summers, dies on this date at the age of 87 in 2008. May 17 Nicholas Ray's noir classic, In a Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame and (loosely) based on the novel by Dorothy Hughes, is released on this date in 1950. The film's pretty good, but the book is far better -- and for 1950s Hollywood, way more subversive. May 18 What many purists see as the last great film of the noir cycle, Robert Aldrich's Kill Me Deadly, is released on this date in 1955. It stars Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, but takes some jaw-dropping liberties with the novel. May 18 Character actor Elisha Cook, Jr. dies on this date in 1995. he made a career out of playing cowardly villains and mousy headcases in dozens of crime films and is probably best known for his portrayal of the "gunsel" Wilmer in John Huston's 1941 adaptation of The Maltese Falcon. May 19 Canadian banker, convict and writer (and eventual Edgar winner) Paul Erdman born on this day in 1932. May 20 The Killing, Stanley Kubrick's first film, based on Lionel White's caper novel Clean Break, is released on this day in 1956. Revolving around an elaborately planned racetrack robbery, it remains one's of Kubrick's best and most satisfying flicks -- certainly a lot more entertaining than some of the pretentious, plot-free gobbledegook he foisted on folks over the years. The young director co-wrote the screenplay with crime novelist Jim Thompson. May 21 Raymond Burr is born on this day in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1917 and will go on to star in a remarkable run on televsion as Erle Stanley Gardner's lawyer (and sometime sleuth) Perry Mason. May 22 Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, and later to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is born in Edinburgh on this day in 1859. May 22 The 271st (and final) episode of beloved television's Perry Mason series, starring Raymond Burr, airs on this date in 1966. The episode was, appropriately enough, entitled "The Final Fadeout." Burr takes a well-deserved rest. May 23 Bonnie and Clyde park for the last time in 1934. May 24 Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan born on this day in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. Not quite sure why he's on this claender? Let's just say that something IS happening and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones? May 25 The film version of Dashiell Hammett's final -- and most commercially successful novel -- The Thin Man, premiered on this day in 1934, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as husband and wife sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. The book had been released less than six months earlier, and was reportedly shot in just sixteen days. May 27 Italian-Americans Sacco and Vanzetti arrested on this day in 1920 in South Baintree, Massachusetts, and charged with robbery and murder. They will eventually be die in the electric chair, despite any real evidence. May 27 Dashiell Hammett born on this date in 1894 in St. Mary's County, Maryland. You may have heard of him... May 28 James Bond creator Ian Fleming born on this day in 1908. May 30 George Sims is born in Iowa in 1902. As Paul Cain, he gained a reputation for hard, fast stories which were published in Black Mask, two of which feature the singularly named private eye Black. His only novel is the appropriately titled The Fast One (1933). May 31 On this day, Irish author John Connolly, creator of super-creepy Charlie Parker novels, about a New England private eye who regularly tussles with demons, fallen angels and other more terrestrial foes, born in Dublin in 1968. May 31 On this day, in the Year of Our Lord 1829, Sir Robert Peel's Police Bill is passed, thus creating an official British police force, housed in Whitehall Palace adjoining Great Scotland Yard Road. In honour of the founding of what will become known simply as "Scotland Yard," take a copper to lunch. JUNE June 1 English actor Edward Woodward, OBE, born on this date in 1930, best known to North American audiences for his portrayal of British ex-secret agent and vigilante-for-hire Robert McCall in the American TV show The Equalizer. June 4 George C. Chesbro, creator of the Mongo novels, about a dwarf private eye whose cases frequently wander into the occult, born on this day in 1940. June 4 Steel-jawed Dick Tracy makes an honest girl of Tess Truheart in 1949, after an eighteen year engagement. June 5 Georgiana Ann Randolph, aka "Craig Rice," creator of hard-boiled, screwball attorney sleith John J. Malone, born in Chicago on this day in 1908. June 6 Jack Lynch, former journalist and creator of the acclaimed Peter Bragg private eye novels, died on this day in 2008. June 13 Rex Burns, best known for the Gabe Wager series about a Colorado cop, born on this day in 1935, but also managed to crank out three fine novels about a Denver private eye, Devlin Kirk. June 20 Roman Polanski's acclaimed P.I. classic, Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston, is released on this date in 1974. It went on to win the Best Picture Oscar on this date in 1974, beating out The Towering Inferno, The Godfather Part II, Lenny and The Conversation, another very worthwhile P.I. flick. June 20 British author Leopold Horace Ognall born in Montreal on this day in 1908. Perhaps best known for the almost forty Glenn Bowman books about a hard-boiled New York City private eye that he wrote as Hartley Howard, he was tremendously popular. June 24 Walk this way. MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block, creator of Matt Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr and others, born on this day in 1938. Starts telling lies for fun and profit soon after... June 26 Actor Peter Lorre born on this date in Rosenburg, Hungary in 1904 as Lazlo Lowenstein. He's best remembered as the child killer in Fritz Lang's M (1931) and as the flamboyant Joel Cairo in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon. JULY July 1 Allan J. Pinkerton, who founded the Pinkerton Detective Agency, dies in Chicago, Illinois, in 1884. July 1 Oakley Hall, who as Jason Manor, wrote three mysteries featuring California private eye Steve Summers, born in San Diego on this date in 1920. July 10 Douglas Enefer, Britsh pulpster who created several private eye, including Dale Shand, Dale Bogard and Mike Power, but found his greatest fame writing TV tie-ins, most notably for American television's Cannon, born on this day in 1906. July 11 Donald J. Sobol, creator of beloved boy detective Encyclopedia Brown (who solved mysteries for nearly 50 years and never charged more than a quarter) passed away on this date in 2012. July 14 Woody Guthrie, singer-songwriter and folk icon, whose tales of pen-totin' thieves, sympathy for the "workin' folks" and talent for reinvention suggest he would have made a killer P.I. novelist, born on this day in 1912 in Oklahoma. July 14 Novelist and screenwriter Ernest B. Tidyman, the creator of Shaft, the black private eye who dug like a private sex machine with all the chicks, passed away on this day in 1984. July 17 Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of beloved shyster Perry Mason, born this day, in 1889. July 19 Beloved American actor James Garner, who once played Chandler's iconic American private eye in the 1969 film Marlowe and then went on to create, along with Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell, his own iconic American P.I. on television's The Rockford Files from 1974-80, passed away on this day in 2014 in Brentwood, California. So long, Jimbo, you'll be missed. July 22 Dennis Farina, Chicago cop turned film and television actor, passed away on this day in 2013. His biggest claims to fame were his television roles in Crime Story, Law and Order and, of special interest to this group, Buddy Faro, where he played a Rat Pack kinda eye stuck in modern day LA. July 23 Raymond Chandler, the man who brought poetry to the mean streets, born on this day in 1888. If Ray were alive today, he’d be really really old. And probably still a bit of an asshole. AUGUST August 1 Carter Brown, who cranked out hundreds of trashy paperbacks featuring such randy P.I.s as Mavis Seidlitz, Rick Holman and Danny Boyd, born on this date as Alan Geoffrey Yates in London in 1923. August 20 Elmore Leonard, American novelist and screenwriter, one of the most acclaimed crime novelists of the hard-boiled school, praised for his gritty realism, strong dialogue and quirky sense of black humour, died in his home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on this date in 2013 of complications from a stroke. He was 87 years old.Stephen King has called him "the great American writer." August 25 Ed Lacy, creator of the first truly-credible black private eye, Toussaint Moore, and the winner of the Edgar for Best Novel for Room to Swing (1965), born Leonard "Len" S. Zinberg on this date in 1911. August 25 Allan J. Pinkerton, who founded the Pinkerton Detective Agency, born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1819. SEPTEMBER September 1 NBC takes its popular radio series Martin Kane, Private Eye and adapts it for television, making William Gargan as Kane TV's first private dick. Others were soon to follow... September 7 Gregory McDonald, former newspaper reporter and creator of the irrepressible Fletch, passed away on this date in 2008. September 12 Harry O, starring David Janssen as world-weary private eye Harry Orwell, begins its three-year run on this date in 1974. September 14 Carroll John Daly, creator of Race Williams and whom William F. Nolan dubbed "the father of the hard-boiled private eye," born on this day in 1889 in Yonkers, New York. September 29 Stuart Kaminsky, creator of Hollywood dick Toby Peters and the author of well over fifty novels born on this day in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. September 30 Television producer, writer, and bestselling crime novelist, Stephen J. Cannell, creator of Jim Rockford, The A-Team, Shane Scully et al, born on this day in 1941 in Los Angeles. OCTOBER October 3 Woody Guthrie, singer-songwriter and folk icon, whose tales of pen-totin' thieves, sympathy for the "workin' folks" and talent for reinvention suggest he woulda made a killer P.I. novelist, dies on this day in 1967. October 4 Donald J. Sobol, who would go on to create beloved boy detective Encyclopedia Brown (who solved mysteries for nearly fifty years and never charged more than a quarter) born on this date in 1924 in New York City. October 8 Jakob Arjourni, writer of five acclaimed novels featuring Frankfurt private eye Kemal Kayankaya, born on this date in 1964. He wrote the first book featuring Kemal, Happy Birthday, Turke! when he was just nineteen. October 9 Stuart Kaminsky, MWA Grand Master and recipient of "the Eye," the PWA Lifetime Achievement Award, passed away this day in 2009. October 11 Elmore Leonard, American novelist and screenwriter, praised for his gritty realism, strong dialogue and quirky sense of black humour, born on this day in 1925 in New Orleans. He started out writing Westerns (3:10 to Yuma, Hombre) before moving on to crime fiction (Get Shorty, La Brava, Glitz, Out of Sight), where he eventually became one of the most acclaimed writers of the genre, for his abilty to write the things readers didn't skip. October 12 James Crumley, "the patron saint of the post-Vietnam private eye novel" who created two of the most memorable private eyes of the seventies, Milo Milodragovitch and C.W. Sughrue, and penned one of the all-time great P.I. novels, 1978's The Last Good Kiss, born on this day in 1939 in Three Rivers, Texas.. October 17 James Crumley, who created two of the all-time great private eyes of the seventiesMilo Milodragovitch and C.W. Sughrue, and penned one of the all-time great P.I. novels, 1978's The Last Good Kiss, died on this day in 2008. October 23 Jonathan Latimer, one of the great early hard-boiled writers and the creator of the decidedly hedonistic private eye Bill Crane, born on this day in Chicago in 1906. October 23 Don Pendleton passed away on this day in 1995, leaving behind about a zillion Mack Bolan paperbacks featuring the character he created. October 27 Michael Avallone, creator of private eye Ed Noon and claimed to have written over 1000 books in his career, born this day in 1924 in New York City. October 29 Fredric Brown, whose crazy-ass takes on sci-fi, fantasy and, of course, detective fiction, can still spin your head around. born on this date in 1906. His The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947) is some kinda P.I. classic. October 31 Two-time Edgar winner Dick Francis born on this day in 1920, in Tenby, South Wales. The star steeplechase jockey decided to try his hand at writing upon retirement, first as a journalist, but soon turned to crime, writing a string of horse-related mysteries, including several featuring jockey-turned-private eye Sid Halley. October 31 Country and western singer-songwriter, mystery novelist and Texas gubernational candidate Kinky Friedman born "somewhere in Texas Hill country" in 1944. His mystery novels feature himself as a Grenwich Village private eye. NOVEMBER November 2 To celebrate my birthday, the Beta version of The Thrilling Detective Web Site goes live, 1997, at the urging of my good friend Peter from Liverpool. Only Rara-Avians know of its existence. November 3 One of the greatest pulpsters of all time, Frederick Nebel, creator of tough dicks such as Kennedy of The Free Press,Donahue and Cardigan, among others, born on this day in 1903. November 10 Robert A. Arthur, Jr., best known for creating the popular Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators series of YA mysteries, born in Corregidor in the Philippines in 1909. November 10 Dora Amy Elles born on this date in 1878 in India. She grew up to become British crime writer Patricia Wentworth, who wrote 32 bestselling novels featuring spinster private eye Miss Silver, a detective so unworried about appearing "cozy" that she actually knits. November 13 Robert Louis Stevenson born on this day in Edinburgh 1850. Mr. Hyde says he's feelin' alright, Dr. Jekyll says he's not feelin' too good himself. November 18 Author and book designer Lee Thayer (born Emma Redington Lee) dies on this day in 1973, a few months short of her 100th birthday, leaving behind 60 mystery novels, all but one featuring the red-headed private detective Peter Clancy and his faithful valet, Wiggar. November 18 George C. Chesbro, creator of the popular Mongo novels, about a dwarf private eye whose cases frequently wander into the occult, dies on this date in 2008. November 25 Out of the Past, what many consider the ultimate film noir, is released on this day in 1947. Based on a novel by Geoffrey Homes, it stars Robert Mitchum as private eye Jeff Bailey, along with Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas DECEMBER December 7 Leigh Brackett, beloved writer of space operas and crime novels, but best known for her Hollywood screenplays, most notably The Big Sleep (1945), Rio Bravo (1959), The Long Goodbye (1973) and the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), born in 1915. Her P.I. novel, No Good From a Corpse (1944), is a gotta-read classic. December 8 Hillary Waugh passed away on this day in 2008, in Conneticut, the setting for many of his mysteries. He was best known for his police procedurals, perhaps, but all of his work, including those featuring private eyes such as Philip Macadam, Sheridan Wesley and Simon Kaye, drew praise for the way his characters used real police techniques to solve crimes. December 9 Hanns Gustav Adolf Gross, often considered the "Father of Modern criminology," passed away on this day in Graz, Austria, in 1915. December 10 Dorothy Porter, Australian poet, passed away on this day in 2008 of breast cancer. She gave us one of the best lesbian P.I. novels of all time, The Monkey's Mask (1995). In verse form, no less. It was subsequently made into a pretty kick ass P.I. film as well, starring Susie Poter and Kelly McGinnis. December 12 Hanns Gustav Adolf Gross, often considered the "Father of Modern criminology," born on this day in Graz, Austria, in 1847. A fictionalized version of Gross appeared in a series of detective novels by J. Sydney Jones, starting with The Empty Mirror in 2009. December 12 Don Pendleton, creator of Mack Bolan, aka "The Executioner," star of about a zillion action/adventure paperbacks, born on this day in 1927 in Little Rock, Arkansas. After revolutionizing the publishing industry, he created several other series characters worthy of note, including private eyes Joe Copp and Ashton Ford. December 26 Character actor Elisha Cook, Jr. born on this date in 1903. he made a career out of playing cowardly villains and mousy headcases in dozens of crime films and is probably best known for his portrayal of the "gunsel" Wilmer in John Huston's 1941 adaptation of The Maltese Falcon.
This is an on-going project, a compilation of dates, anniversaries and holidays of historical interest to readers of this site, that will be updated frequently. Tell me what I'm missing...
Compiled by Kevin Burton Smith, with suggestions from Stephen Blackmoore, Ed Kurtz and Duke Seabrook.
Missing something? Let me know.
Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
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