Wade Miller

(pseudonym of Robert Wade [1920-2012] and Bill Miller [1920-61]; they also wrote as Whit Masterson, Dale Wilmer, and Will Daemer)

This bio, taken from Brian Ritt's excellent Paperback Confidential, highlights the career of a unique writing partnership that was responsible for the creation of one of the all-time great private eyes, Max Thursday, as well as a couple of other notable eyes, Mort Hagen and Walter James.

The team of Robert Wade (left, born in San Diego, California in 1920) and Bill Miller (born in Garrett, Indiana, 1920) achieved several notable distinctions throughout their career: They successfully created their own private eye (Max Thursday); they wrote a book, Badge of Evil, that served as the basis for one of the best film noirs, Touch of Evil), and wrote another book, Kitten with a Whip, that was the basis for one of the most entertaining "so-bad-it's-good" films.

Wade and Miller started their partnership early. They were both twelve years old and attending a music class at Woodrow Wilson Junior High in San Diego when they met for the first time. They began writing together while teenagers--plays, sketches and radio scripts. They both attended San Diego State College and edited the college newspaper. When WWII came along, they enlisted in the air force.

After WWII, Wade and Miller combined their surnames and wrote their first novel, Deadly Weapon (1946). It was a fine debut from the team and features PI Walter James, who is in San Diego investigating the shooting of his partner.

Their next effort, Guilty Bystander (1947), features private detective Max Thursday, an unkempt alcoholic with an unpredictable temper who lives in a fleabag hotel. In the story, Thursday's ex-wife shows up to tell him their son has been kidnapped and, along with battling to stay sober, he has to battle assorted cops, thugs and doublecrossing hookers.

Reviewers compared Guilty Bystander favorably with the work of Hammett and Chandler. It was made into a movie in 1950, starring Zachary Scott. The other Thursday novels are Fatal Step (1948), Uneasy Street (1948), Calamity Fair (1950), Murder Charge (1950) and Shoot To Kill (1951).

Wade and Miller wrote numerous standalone novels, as well. Kitten with a Whip (1959) is the story of a seductive juvenile delinquent who blackmails a happily married man. It was made into an over-the-top, camp classic starring Ann-Margret and John Forsythe.

Other notable standalone efforts are Devil May Care (1950), the story of an ex-soldier of fortune (with the classic tough guy name of Biggo Venn) who is hired to go to Mexico and obtain a deathbed confession that will exonerate a deported mobster and allow him back into the U.S. to start new rackets; The Killer (1951), where a big game hunter is hired by a father to track down a man who killed his son; and Branded Woman (1952), about a woman who goes to Acapulco to get revenge against the man who branded an "X" into her forehead.

Wade and Miller also wrote several novels under the name Whit Masterson. They used the Masterson name on their novel Badge of Evil (1956)--the basis for the classic film noir Touch of Evil (1959), directed by Orson Welles and starring Welles, Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh. Other excellent Masterson novels are A Cry in the Night (1955), which deals with a kidnapping, and A Hammer in His Hand (1960), which features a policewoman as the protagonist.

In all, the two wrote over thirty novels and a dozen or so short stories together, and several of their works became the basis for films.

Bill Miller died of a heart attack in 1961. He was only 41 years old. Robert Wade continued his career as a successful writer, penning novels both under his own name and as by Whit Masterson, as well as writing a regular column for the San Diego Union. In 1988, Wade was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Private Eye Writers of America.

NOVELS

As "Wade Miller," unless otherwise noted

  • Deadly Weapon (1946; Walter James).. Buy this book...Kindle It!
  • Guilty Bystander (1947; Max Thursday)...Kindle It!
  • Pop Goes The Queen (1947; aka "As Murder-Queen High")
  • Fatal Step (1948; Max Thursday)..Kindle It!
  • Uneasy Street (1948; Max Thursday).. Buy this book..Kindle It!
  • Devil On Two Sticks (1949; aka "Killer's Choice,")
  • Calamity Fair (1950; Max Thursday)..Kindle It!
  • Devil May Care (1950)
  • Murder Charge (1950; Max Thursday)..Kindle It!
  • Stolen Woman (1950)
  • The Killer (1951)
  • Shoot To Kill (1951; Max Thursday)..Kindle It!
  • The Tiger's Wife (1951)
  • Memo For Murder (1951; by Dale Wilmer)
  • The Case of the Lonely Lovers (1951; by Will Daemer)
  • Branded Woman (1952)
  • South Of The Sun (1953)
  • The Big Guy (1953)
  • Dead Fall (1954; by Dale Wilmer)
  • Jungle Heat (1954; by Dale Wilmer)
  • All Through The Night (1955, aka "A Cry In The Night:" by Whit Masterson)
  • Dead, She Was Beautiful (1955; Mort Hagen; by Whit Masterson)..Kindle It!
  • Mad Baxter (1955)
  • Kiss Her Goodbye (1956)
  • Badge Of Evil (1956, aka "Touch Of Evil;" by Whit Masterson)..Kindle It!
  • Murder Bait (1956; aka "The Case of the Lonely Lovers;" by Will Daemer)
  • A Shadow in the Wild (1957; by Whit Masterson)
  • Kitten With A Whip (1959)
  • The Dark Fantastic (1959; by Whit Masterson)
  • Sinner Take All (1960)
  • A Hammer In His Hand (1960; by Whit Masterson)
  • Nightmare Cruise (1961; aka "The Sargasso People")
  • Evil Come, Evil Go (1961; by Whit Masterson)

As "Whit Masterson" (Robert Wade only)

  • The Girl From Midnight (1962)
  • Murder Bait (1956; aka "The Case of the Lonely Lovers;" by Will Daemer)
  • The Man on a Nylon String (n.) Dodd 1963; by Whit Masterson)
  • 711-Officer Needs Help (1965; aka "Warning Shot" "Killer With a Badge;" by Whit Masterson)
  • Play Like You're Dead (1967; by Whit Masterson)
  • The Last One Kills (1969; by Whit Masterson)
  • The Death of Me Yet (1970; by Whit Masterson)
  • The Gravy Train (1971; aka "The Great Train Hijack;" by Whit Masterson)
  • Why She Cries, I Do Not Know (1972; by Whit Masterson)
  • The Undertaker Wind (1973; by Whit Masterson)
  • The Man with Two Clocks (1974; by Whit Masterson)
  • Hunter of the Blood 1977; by Whit Masterson)
  • The Slow Gallows (1979; by Whit Masterson)

SHORT STORIES

As "Wade Miller," unless otherwise noted

  • "The Author Confesses" (September 1946, Mammoth Detective)
  • "This Deadly Weapon" (September 1946, Mammoth Detective)
  • "Devil on Two Sticks" (November 1949, Famous Detective)
  • "Murder Has Girl Trouble" (Spring 1950, Mystery Book Magazine; Max Thursday)
  • "The Corpse Walked Away" (January 1951, Two Complete Detective Books; Max Thursday)
  • "Invitation to an Accident" (July 1955, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)
  • "A Bad Time of Day" (September 1956, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)
  • "Midnight Caller" (January 1958, Manhunt)
  • "Suddenly It's Midnight" (January 1958, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine;" by Whit Masterson).
  • "The Women in His Life" (June 1958, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine" by Whit Masterson)
  • "The Memorial Hour" (March 1960, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)
  • "We Were Picked as the Odd Ones" (July 1960, The Saint Mystery Magazine)
  • "Seek Him in Shadows" (April 1966, Argosy; aka "What Happened to Timothy Owen?;" by Whit Masterson)

FILMS

  • GUILTY BYSTANDER
    (1950, Film Classics)
    Screenplay by Don Ettlinger
    Based on the novel by Wade Miller
    Directed by Joseph Lerner
    Produced by Rex Carlton
    Starring Zachary Scott as Max Thursday
    Also starring Faye Emerson, Mary Boland, Sam Levene, J. Edward Bromberg, Kay Medford
  • A CRY IN THE NIGHT
    (1956 Warner Brothers)
    Based on the novel All Through the Night by Whit Masterson
    Written by David Dortort
    Directed by Frank Tuttle
    Starring Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr, Edmond O'Brien, Brian Donlevy

Burr kidnaps teenage daughter (Wood) of a police captain.

  • TOUCH OF EVIL.. Buy the DVD
    (1958, Universal)
    Based on the novel Badge Of Evil by Whit Masterson
    Written by Orson Welles, Franklin Coen, Paul Monash
    Directed by Orson Welles
    Starring Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich

One of the all-time great film noirs, strung along the Mexican/American border, a seedy masterpiece full of murder, kidnapping, and corruption. Notable for Welles' direction, and Heston being cast as a Mexican cop.

  • KISS HER GOODBYE
    (1959)
    Based on the novel by Wade Miller
    Screenplay by Alan Marcus, Bill Miller
    Directed by Albert Lipton
    Starring Elaine Stritch, Steven Hill, Gene Lyons, Andrew Prine, Sharon Farrell.
  • THE YELLOW CANARY
    (1959)
    Based on the novel Evil Come, Evil Go by Whit Masterson
    Screenplay by Rod Serling
    Directed by Buzz Kulik
    Starring Pat Boone, Barbara Eden, Steve Forrest

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

  • KITTEN WITH A WHIP
    (1964)
    Based on the novel by Wade Miller
    Screenwriter & director: Douglas Heyes
    Starring Ann-Margret and John Forsythe.

TELEVISION

  • ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS
    (1955-65, NBC)

  • "Invitation to an Accident" (June 21, 1959)
    Based on the story by Wade Miller
    Teleplay by Robert C. Dennis
    Directed by Don Taylor
    Starring Gary Merril, Joanna Moore
  • WARNING SHOT
    (1963)
    Based on the novel 711--Officer Needs Help by Whit Masterson
    Screenplay by Mann Rubin
    Directed by Buzz Kulik
    Starring David Jannsen, Edc Begley, Keenan Wynn, Stefanie Powers, Steve Allen, Joan Collins

Above average made-for-TV flcik with Jannsen as a cop who kills a suspect, only to discover the dead man was a well-respected doctor.

  • THE BOLD ONES
    (1969-72)
    Created by Roy Huggins
    Starring Burl Ives, Joseph Campanella, James Farentino
  • "A Game of Chance" (September 21, 1969)
    Based on the novel by Whit Masterson
    Teleplay by Roy Huggins

  • THE DEATH OF ME YET
    (1969 TV movie)
    Based on the novel by Whit Masterson
    Teleplay by A.J. Russell
    Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
    Starring Doug McClure, Darren McGavin, Rosemary Forsyth

The past of a small-town newspaper editor catches uop with him, in the form of a Soviet agent.

RELATED LINKS

Mark M.'s intriguing tribute site to Max Thursday. My favourite part? His hunt for the San Diego locations used in the books.

Respectfully submitted by Brian Ritt, author of Paperback Confidential: Crime Writers of the Paperback, from which this biography was taken. Paperback Confidential is a must-read for anyone interested in the golden era of pulp fiction, offering 132 profiles of the men and women who worked the black vein of crime for the burgeoning paperback market from the 1930s through the 1960s, covering everyone from Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and Cornell Woolricht o Gil Brewer, Norbert Davis, Brett Halliday, Day Keene, Charles Williams, David Goodis, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Ennis Willie and Douglas Sanderson. Additional bibliographical information by Kevin Burton Smith.


Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
"...and I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking to a man that likes to talk."

Copyright 1998-2017 , thrillingdetective.com. All rights reserved.
Web site by The Thrilling Detective Web Guy