Mickey Spillane was born Frank Morrison Spillane on March 9, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of an Irish bartender. He grew up, by his own report, in one of the tougher neighborhoods of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Little is known about his early schooling. In the mid-1930’s he attended Kansas State College, hoping eventually to study law. During the summers, he was captain of the lifeguards at Breezy Point, Long Island.
In 1935, when Spillane was seventeen years of age, he began selling stories to the pulps. He was able to pay his college tuition by writing for radio and by writing comic books. (He claimed to have been one of the originators of the Captain Marvel and Captain America comics, which enjoyed enormous popularity in the 1930’s and 1940’s.) During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Force, training cadets and in time flying fighter missions. After the war, he briefly worked as a trampoline artist for Barnum and Bailey’s circus.
Spillane’s success as a writer really began in 1947, with the publication of what remains his most popular book, I, the Jury. In 1952, after publishing half a dozen additional titles, he was converted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Almost a decade passed before the release of The Deep (1961), considered by many to be his finest novel. His last book, Black Alley (1996) concluded a half-century-long career. Though Spillane wrote his books in a matter of...
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