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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Honey West

News of the death of actress Anne Francis on 2 January at the age of 80 inspired me to dig around the shelves to find the few Honey West novels I have. Honey West was one of the first female private eyes to appear on TV, based on a series of novels by G. G. Fickling, the pen-name of husband and wife team Gloria G. (1926- ) and Forrest Ellison 'Skip' Fickling (1925-1998).

The first novel was written in 1956 and published the following year by Pyramid Books. The book was a success and led to seven sequels. The Ficklings were working on the ninth novel in the series when they were approached by Dick Powell of Four Star International, who wanted to adapt the character for TV. After a year of negotiation, Honey West made her debut in an episode of Burke's Law in April 1965 played by Anne Francis. The following September, Honey's own series began, running for thirty 30-minute black & white episodes until April 1966. In her adventures she was joined by Sam Bolt (played by John Ericson) and a pet ocelot called Bruce. The novels were all reissued and sold over a million copies. Most of the series was reprinted by Mayflower in the UK (although out of order); two further novels were published by Pyramid in 1971.

The TV series earned itself a loyal following and Anne Francis was nominated for an Emmy Award. There were plans to expand the show to an hour and film in colour but ABC, on which the show was televised, decided not to renew.

Anne Francis had already had a remarkable career, appearing in films such as Bad Day at Black Rock and Forbidden Planet, and went on to appear in dozens of TV series ranging from Charlie's Angels to Dallas to Murder She Wrote. In 1994 she reprised her role as Honey West for a single episode of the revived Burke's Law.

The Honey West Novels
This Girl For Hire. New York, Pyramid Books G-274, 1957; London, Mayflower (4), 1966.
A Gun For Honey. New York, Pyramid Books G-344, 1958.
Girl on the Loose. New York, Pyramid Books G-366, 1958; London, Mayflower (6), 1966.
Honey in the Flesh. New York, Pyramid Books G-411, 1959; London, Mayflower (3), 1966.
Girl on the Prowl. New York, Pyramid Books G-453, 1959.
Kiss for a Killer. New York, Pyramid Books G-520, 1960; London, Mayflower (5), 1966.
Dig a Dead Doll. New York, Pyramid Books G-560, 1960; London, Mayflower (nn), 1967.
Blood and Honey. New York, Pyramid Books G-623, 1961; London, Mayflower (1), 1966.
Bombshell. New York, Pyramid Books R-1106, 1964; London, Mayflower (2), 1966.
Honey on her Tail. New York, Pyramid Books T2410, 1971.
Stiff as a Broad. New York, Pyramid Books T2494, 1971.

The complete series is available on DVD, as is an excellent book by John C. Fredriksen about the show.

1 comment:

Kid said...

If I remember correctly, Steve, for copyright reasons, she was called HONEY BEST in that episode of the new BURKE'S LAW.