Mike Hammer

Created by Mickey Spillane

“The monicker is Mike Hammer, kid. I’m a private eye.”
— please allow him to introduce himself (I, the Jury)


If you want something done right, do it yourself. Mickey Spillane as Mike Hammer in The Girl Hunters (1963).

Whatever else you may think about MIKE HAMMER, one word may well be appropriate: extreme. The Hammer books are not only extreme in their subject matter, but they also have a tendency to provoke an extreme reaction. The first – and best known – in the series, I, The Jury (1947), quite literally takes no prisoners. Written in six days (or nine, or nineteen) it is a fever dream pulp classic. Avenging a friend’s death, Hammer makes his mark following a code of violence which allows nothing to stand in his way. The bloody ending leaves no room for anything much, let alone subtlety. Extreme indeed but there is no questioning the impact of the book or the fact that, in picking up where Race Williams left off, Hammer was in the classic P.I. mold.

The reaction from Mickey Spillane‘s peers was equally extreme. Few writers have been as disliked as much (and as quickly) as Spillane. Anthony Boucher maintained that I, The Jury should be “required reading in a Gestapo training school.” The books, however, sold in their millions (by the early 80’s Spillane had sold nearly 150 million). But the genre continued to shun him. Although Hammer received a ‘life long achievement’ award from the Private Eye Writers of America, no similar honour was forthcoming from the Mystery Writers of America. Hated by the “liberal” writing establishment — for some reason — Hammer very probably represented a rampant right wing and reactionary politics. This is entirely in keeping with his historical context — the expansionist and paranoiac 50’s America — an age when America lost what little innocence it could pretend to have.

Call him sexist, perverse or psychotic, Mike Hammer wouldn’t have even understood what you were talking about — and would definitely not have liked it even if he did. Its interesting to note, for example, that the vogue for extreme violence — take any film from Dirty Harry to Natural Born Killers — is given huge support in opposing its censorship by the very people who would also condemn Hammer.

Hammer certainly took no prisoners. Within the first five books forty-eight people die violently — thirty-four of whom had Hammer to thank for their untimely demise. The books are littered with an almost casually extreme violence: a cigarette lighter flicked into an eye, clothes stripped of a woman who is a communist and who is then whipped. Whatever you thought about Hammer, he was not one to walk away from the fight. One Lonely Night (1951), for example, sees Hammer take on a liberal judge who condemns his actions. Critics? Who needs them?

Whatever else you say or think, it’s hard to ignore Mike Hammer.

Extremely hard.

Respectfully submitted by Peter Walker.


Forget about comparisons to Chandler or Hammett. MIKE HAMMER‘s roots go directly to Race Williams, Carroll John Daly’s seminal eye-for-an-eye shoot-first private detective. If, as has often been repeated, Nero Wolfe is the son of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, then Hammer is the bastard son of Race and his nemisis, The Flame (aka “The Girl With The Criminal Mind”) as suggested by Tony Sparafucile in the 1978 preface to a Race Williams reprint. Not for Hammer the frayed romanticism of Philip Marlowe, or the cold, amoral, passionless vengeance of Sam Spade. Nope, the fuel that stokes Hammer’s bloody fury is vengeance, and lots of it. The bloodier the better.

Clad in a trenchcoat, with his hat jammed down low on his forehead, his trusty .45 strapped on and loaded for bear, with his beloved secretary, Velda, holding the fort back at the office, Mike goes down the mean (and very viscious) streets of New York, shooting a few here, kicking a few groins there, the blood lust flowing in his veins as he makes the world safe for his particular brand of justice.

And, of course, all his victims had it coming.

Hammer’s “fever dream melodramas,” as Max Allan Collins calls them, must have struck a nerve with the public. His books were instant bestsellers. Indeed, Spillane has to be considered one of the bestselling mystery authors of all time, with over 160 million (and by some accounts, over 200 million) books sold.

Which means it didn’t take Hollywood long to take notice. In 1953, at the height of Hammer-mania, Hammer made it to the big screen in the Harry Essex-directed I, the Jury. Biff Elliot (who?) starred as Hammer, and managed to capture at least some of the brooding brutality of the character. It was originally offered in 3-D, no less, and while nobody will ever mistake it for John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, it got the job done.

The same year — it was a big one for Spillane and Hammer — That Hammer Guy made its radio debut. On air, Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled detective obviously couldn’t engage in the violence and sexual escapades that excited the millions of readers of the paperback novels. In fact, Spillane didn’t even write the radio scripts; Ed Adamson did, but Ed managed to convey the gritty realism of Hammer’s world, within the confines of network radio. The series debuted on January 6, 1953 but only ran until October 5, 1953. It was an excellent show of its type but since it arrived after television, it failed like many other fine radio shows.

Larry Haines’ voice fit Hammer like a pair of brass knucks, having previously been the tough guy lead on Treasury Agent and Manhunt. When he spotted “a sexy dame wrapped around a bar stool” or threatened a punk with “I’ll wrap your head around this bed post”, the listeners believed this guy was for real. Hammer’s daily arena of crummy dives, back alleys, and bourbon soaked flop-houses was the stuff of this radio series. At least once in most episodes, “smoke swirled up from the nose of a gun.” Jan Miner provided the voice of most of the hip-swinging broads Hammer encountered. Richard Lewis was the director; he had also directed radio versions of The Falcon and Murder and Mr. Malone. Even the sponsors for this Mutual Network series seemed to fit: Esquire Magazine (“…this month’s issue has a revealing sexual expose: Call Girls and Fall Guys…”), Camel Cigarettes (every character smoked on this show) and Kix cereal (“Food For Action!”).

1953 also saw the appearance of a Mike Hammer comic strip, From the Files of…Mike Hammer, scripted by Spillane himself. Sorta appropriate, since originally, Hammer was intended to be a comic book eye (under the name Mike Danger) until the bottom fell out of the post-war comic market. The strip appeared in dailys, and a self-contained Sunday continuity, and Spillane claims to have written most of the strip himself. Alas, this was the 1950’s, and what the public eagerly snapped up in paperbacks wasn’t looked on with much favor on the comics page. The strip was cancelled, in a censorship battle, over excessive violence, but Spillane fans like Max Allan Collins have had some prtetty nice things to say about it.

In 1954, there was a first attempt to bring Hammer to television. The 1954 pilot starred Brian Keith as Hammer, and was written and directed by Blake Edwards. By most accounts, it was pretty good, but nobody bought it. But a few years later, in 1958, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, starring Darrin McGavin, made its debut. The syndicated series ran for two years, and while McGavin was nobody’s idea of Mike Hammer, his arched eyebrow approach to the scripts made the at times casually extreme violence of the show all the more effective.

Meanwhile, Hammer continued to appear in films that never quite nailed the character Spillane had envisioned. 1955 saw Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, now acknowledged as a noir classic, but the California hipster Hammer (as played by Ralph Meeker) missed the mark by a mile, while the sudden mood swings in Robert Bray’s woodenly performance as Hammer in 1957’s My Gun is Quick (also set in California) practically shot out splinters.

Finally, in 1963,  after three films — and three less than satisfying Hammers — Spillane decided to show everyone how Hammer should be played, casting himself as Hammer in The Girl Hunters (1963). The film has its defenders, but they’re few and far between. The fact is, earnestness and enthusiasm can carry you only so far.

But by the mid-sixties, Spillane was slowly falling out of favor — and certainly even further out of critical favor. He still managed to sell an astounding number of books, of course, but Hammer’s essential conservatism and taste for violence seemed out of place in the increasingly swinging sixties or the “Have a nice day” seventies.

Then, in the more conservative eighties, with Reagan in the White House, Hammer came riding back, introduced to a whole new generation of fans when Warner Brothers released a new film version of I, The Jury, starring a smouldering, slightly psychotic Armand Assante as Hammer.

More significantly, however, CBS started airing Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, featuring Stacy Keach as Hammer. Unfortunately, for many fans, Keach’s Hammer was all wrong. The cheesy mustache, the anachronistic fedora and the glib attitude made it all seem like some rather smug period piece. In the books, Hammer didn’t wink.

Some decent scripts, by people like Joe Gores, and a lack of any real competition in the genre, though, were enough to keep the show going through various permutations for a few years. In fact, there was even a hiatus of sorts, when Keach was invited to stay at the crossbar hotel in the U.K. for a bit, due to the posession of a controlled substance or two. Even more interesting, impressionist Rich Little was called in to do Keach’s voice-overs of a few shows left in the can.

A few of the shows were even nominated for Edgars. The eighties also saw the publication of One Lonely Knight, Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor spirited critical defense of Spillane’s much-maligned work. All the attention was enough to prompt Spillane to finally — after a nineteen year hiatus — pen a new Mike Hammer novel, The Killing Man (1989).

In 1993, John Lau was hired to script a made-for-television flick featuring Keach as an older Hammer, trying to adjust to life in retirement. But in their infinite wisdom, CBS decided to create an all new, younger Mike Hammer and stick him in the then hot location of the moment — Miami. “The anti-violence on TV movement was huge back then as it was an election year, and I was ‘advised’ to tone things down,” Lau relates, “so I made it funny and titled it Deader Than Ever.” It eventually aired as Come Die With Me, but it tanked in the ratings while Lau was writing the follow up.

But all the attention prompted Spillance to write another Hammer novel. Black Alley, popped up in 1996, just in time to coincide with a new syndicated television series that Jay Bernstein had managed to sell, with Keach returning as Hammer. The general consensus on Rara-Avis was that the series looked okay and the music was good; even the totally unnecessary new sidekick wasn’t too bad, but the scripts weren’t as strong as they could be.

But anyone looking for a return of the show’s glory days (or any resemblance to Spillane’s Hammer) were out of luck.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Max Allan Collins and Lynn Myers for their help.


  • The Hammer Investigative Agency was located in Suite 808 in The Hackard Building in New York City.


  • “Mickey Spillane is the last TRUE writer of ‘pulp fiction’.”-
    — Christopher Mills
  • “… Hammer brought the hard-boiled ‘up’ a notch with his personalist vengence message. Chandler spoke of a the PI as a man ‘not himself mean’. Mike Hammer was mean.”
    Tim Wohlforth (December 24, 2001, Rara-Avis)
  • “I was fifteen when I picked up a paperback copy of I, the Jury. I’d had my introduction to private eye fiction the year before – Chandler’s The Big Sleep. This was… different. While Chandler headed me in the direction of Hammett and Macdonald, Spillane opened up the world of Richard Prather and John D. MacDonald (Spillane’s endorsement of The Executioners was plastered on the paperback cover), among other Gold Medal writers. Putting him on my list (The 14 Best Private Eye Novels of All Time) was easy.”
    Dick Lochte
  • “It’s easy prose to mock. The fact is, heartless youngsters such as myself probably read and saw Mickey Spillane parodies before reading the real thing. But he is a pro when it comes to pacing.”
    Laura Lippman (1996, The Baltimore Sun)
  • “Able, if painfully derivative, writing and plotting, in so vicious a glorification of force, cruelty and extra-legal methods that the novel might be made required reading in a Gestapo training school.”
    Anthony Boucher (August 3, 1947, San Francisco Chronicle)
  • “His novel is a shabby and rather nasty little venture from the indefensible logic of its opening scene to the drooling titillation of its final striptease.”
    James Sandoe (August 17, 1947, Chicago Sun Book Week)


  • “… kill ’em left and right, show ’em that we aren’t so soft after all…Kill, kill, kill, kill”
    One Lonely Night
  • “I don’t give a damn for a human life any more, even my own. Want to hear that philosophy? It’s simple enough. Go after the big boys. Oh, don’t arrest them, don’t treat them to the dignity of the democratic process of courts and law… do the same thing to them that they’d do to you! Treat ’em to the unglorious taste of sudden death.”
    One Lonely Night
  • “I turned him around to face me, to let him look at what I was and see how I enjoyed his dying… I had his neck in my one hand and I leaned on the railing while I did it. I squeezed and squeezed and squeezed until my fingers were buried in the flesh of his throat and his hands clawed at my arm frantically, trying to tear me away…. I laughed a little bit.”
    One Lonely Night
  • “But someday, maybe, I’d stand on the steps of the Kremlin, with a gun in my fist and I’d yell at them to come out and if they wouldn’t I’d go in and get them and when I had them lined up against the wall I’d start shooting until all I had left was a row of corpses.”
    One Lonely Night
  • “He took off like a herd of turtles and I was left alone…”
    — Hammer scares off a college kid in I, the Jury. Could someone please tell me what the hell he means?
  • “The temperature was six below zero and it kept me from dying on the spot because the blood coagulated and clotted in ugly smears of cloth and skin and the pain hadn’t started yet, so when the little fat guy who saw my eyes open and still bright pulled me away from the carnage he was almost in the shock I was going into. Nobody would listen to him. He was a drunk. I was nearly dead.”
    Black Alley




  • “The Night I Died” (1953; unproduced radio play)
    Tidied up and presented as a short story by Max Allan Collins in 1998’s Private Eyes, edited by Spillane and Collins
  • “Tonight My Love” (1954, released as 33 1/3 and 45 rpm records Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story; 2022; Kill Me If You Can)
  • “The Screen Test of Mike Hammer” (July 1955, Male; 1995, Hard-Boiled)
  • “The Killing Man” (December 1989, Playboy; a condensation of the novel)
  • “Grave Matter” (2010, Crimes By Moonlight; co-written by Max Allan Collins)Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • “So Long, Chief” (February-May 2013, The Strand Magazine; co-written by Max Allan Collins)
  • “Fallout” (November 2014-February 2015, The Strand Magazine; co-written by Max Allan Collins)
  • “A Dangerous Cat” (February-May 2016, The Strand Magazine; co-written by Max Allan Collins)
  • “Tonight My Love” (October 2018-January 2019, The Strand Magazine; co-written by Max Allan Collins)
  • “The Punk” (2022, Kill Me If You Can)


  • The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 1 (2001)Buy this book Kindle it!
    Handsome new paperback omnibus collection of first three Mike Hammer novels, with a new introduction by Max Allan Collins.
  • The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 2 (2001)Buy this book Kindle it!
    Second trade paperback omnibus collects One Lonely Night, The Big Kill and Kiss Me, Deadly, plus an introduction by Lawrence Block..
  • The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 3 (2010)Buy this book Kindle it!
    Third big collection rounds up The Girl Hunters, The Snake and The Twisted Thing.
  • A Long Time Dead (2016; with Max Allan Collins)Buy this book | Kindle it!
    The first-ever collection of Hammer stories
  • The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 4 (2018)Kindle it!
    The fourth collection presents The Body Lovers, Survival… Zero, The Killing Man and Black Alley.


    aka “The Mickey Spillane Mysteries”
    (1953, Mutual)
    30-minute episodes
    First broadcast: January 6, 1953
    Last broadcast: October 5, 1953.
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Written by Ed Adamson
    Directed by Richard Lewis
    Advisor: Mickey Spillane
    Starring Larry Haines as MIKE HAMMER
    (also Ted De Corsia).
    Also starring Jan Miner


    (1953-54, Phoenix Features Syndicate)
    Daily and Sunday strips
    Written by Mickey Spillane, Ed Robbins and Joe Gill
    Art by Ed Robbins


  • Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Comic Strip, Volume 1
    The Sudden Trap and Other Stories (1982)
     Buy this book
  • Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Comic Strip, Volume 2
    The Dark City and Other Stories 
    Buy this book
  • Mickey Spillane’s From the Files of… Mike Hammer (2012)Buy this book
    Hammer returns to his roots in this handsome hardcover collection, the first to collect all the dailies and Sunday strips from 1953-54.


    (2018, Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics)
    Four issue mini-series
    Based on an unproduced screenplay, “The Night I Died,” by Mickey Spillane
    Adapted by Max Allan Collins
    Art by Marcelo Salaza and Marcio Freire


    (1953, Parklane Productions)
    87 minutes
    Originally released in 3D
    Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane
    Screenplay by Harry Essex
    Directed by Harry Essex
    Starring Biff Elliot as MIKE HAMMER
    Also starring Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, Elisha Cook Jr., John Qualen
  • KISS ME DEADLY | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1955, Parklane Productions)
    Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane
    Screenplay by A.I. Bezzerides
    Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane
    Directed by Robert Aldrich
    Produced by Robert Aldrich
    Starring Ralph Meeker as MIKE HAMMER
    and Maxine Cooper as Velda
    Also starring Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Cloris Leachman, Gaby Rodgers, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Jack Lambert
    Great noir, a classic even, but only so-so Spillane.
  • MY GUN IS QUICK | Buy the DVD
    88 minutes
    Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane
    Written by Richard Collins and Richard Powell
    Screenplay by Richard Powell
    Directed by George A. White and Phil Victor
    Starring Robert Bray as MIKE HAMMER
    Also starring Whitney Blake, Pamela Duncan, Donald Randolph
    Bray’s woody performance actually sorta works.
  • THE GIRL HUNTERS | Buy the video | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1963, Fellane)
    103 minutes
    Black and white
    Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane
    Written by Mickey Spillane, Roy Rowland and Robert Fellows
    Directed by Roy Rowland
    Starring Mickey Spillane as MIKE HAMMER
    Also starring Lloyd Nolan, Shirley Eaton, Hy Gardner, Scott Peters
    Let’s face it — for such an influential literary figure, Hammer has been poorly served on film and television, with actors cast who lack the intensity (or simply the talent) required to capture the seething rage of the revenge-driven dick, or directors seriously misinterpreting the character, until he’s almost unrecognizable. I guess it finally got to Spillane, because in 1963 he decided “the hell with it!”and took matters into his own hands. He would play Hammer himself. The result? Opinions range from “tremendous!” to “terrible!” The film was remastered in 2014, for Blu-Ray, with audio commentary by crime author and Spillane superfan Max Allan Collins, trailers, and vintage on-camera interviews with Spillane and Shirley Eaton.
  • I, THE JURY | Buy this video | Buy the DVD  | Buy the Blu-Ray  | Watch it now
    (1982, Warner Brothers)
    111 minutes
    Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane
    Written by Larry Cohen
    Directed by Richard Heffron
    Starring Armand Assante as MIKE HAMMER
    Also starring Barbara Carrera, Alan King, Lauren Landon, Geoffrey Lewis, Paul Sorvino, Jessica Lange, Leigh Anne Harris, Lynette Harris


    Unsuccessful pilot
    26 minutes
    Based on
    characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Written and directed by Blake Edwards
    Starring Brian Keith as MIKE HAMMER
    and Robert Bice as Captain Pat Chambers
    Also starring Virginia Lee, Donald Randolph, Don C. Harvey, Dale Van Sickle, Robert Foulk, William Woodson, Leon Burbank, Carol Brewster …
    Curious? You can actually watch this on Max Allan Collins’ The Black Box: Shades of Neo-Noir.
    (1958-1960, US Syndicated series)
    78 episodes
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Writers: Frank Kane, Bill S. Ballinger, Curt Cannon/Evan Hunter, Lawrence Kimble, Bill S. Ballinger, Richard Deming, Richard Ellington, James Gunn, Henry Kane, Stephen Marlowe, Robert Turner
    Directors: Boris Sagal, Richard Irving,
    Theme by Pete Ruggio
    Starring Darrin McGavin as MIKE HAMMER
    Guest stars: Angie Dickinson, Ted Knight, Barbara Bain, Marion Ross, Dick Van Patten, Robert Vaughn, Mike Connors, Lorne Greene, DeForest Kelly
    At times entertaining, and often well-written, but just as often goofy and over-the-top. Darren McGavin had problems taking the scripts seriously, and it shows. Hammer pursues women with all the restraint of a horny poodle, particularly in the first season, and what’s with the picture of the horse in Hammer’s office? Was there something about him and Mister Ed we should know about?

    • Season One
    • “The High Cost of Dying” (January 7, 1958)
    • “Just Around the Coroner” (January 14, 1958)
    • “Hot Hands, Cold Dice” (January 21, 1958)
    • “Death Gets a Diploma” (January 28, 1958)
    • “So That’s Who It Was” (February 11, 1958)
    • “Dead Men Don’t Dream” (February 18, 1958)
    • “Letter Edged in Blackmail” (February 25, 1958)
    • “Death Takes an Encore” (March 7, 1958)
    • “Lead Ache” (March 14, 1958)
    • “Overdose of Lead” (March 21, 1958)
    • “A Grave Undertaking” (March 28, 1958)
    • “A Shot in the Arm” (April 4, 1958)
    • “Stay Out of Town” (April 11, 1958)
    • “Beautiful, Blue and Deadly” (April 18, 1958)
    • “Skinned Deep” (April 25, 1958)
    • “Peace Bond” (May 2, 1958)
    • “Play Belles’ Toll” (May 9, 1958)
    • “For Sale: Deathbed–Used” (May 16, 1958)
    • “Music to Die By” (May 23 1958)
    • “My Fair Deadly” (May 30, 1958)
    • “The New Look” (June 7, 1958)
    • “The Broken Frame” (June 14, 1958)
    • “Look at the Old Man Go” (June 21, 1958)
    • “The Paper Shroud” (June 28, 1958)
    • “My Son and Heir” (July 5, 1958)
    • “Final Curtain” (July 12, 1958)
    • “A Detective Tail” (July 19, 1958)
    • “It’s an Art” (July 26, 1958)
    • “Four Blind Mice” (August 2, 1958)
    • “No Pockets in a Shroud” (August 9, 1958)
    • “The Living Dead” (August 16, 1958)
    • “Old Folks at Home Blues” (August 23, 1958)
    • “No Business Like—–” (August 30, 1958)
    • “Crepe for Suzette” (September 7, 1958)
    • “Letter of the Weak” (September 14, 1958)
    • “That Schoolgirl Complex” (September 21, 1958)
    • “To Bury a Friend” (September 28, 1958)
    • “Mere Maid” (October 5, 1958)
    • “Scar and Garter” (October 2, 1958)
    • Season Two
    • “Baubles, Bangles and Blood” (January 2, 1959)
    • “Accentuate the Negative” (January 9, 1959)
    • “Requiem for a Sucker” (January 16, 1959)
    • “According to Luke” (January 23, 1959)
    • “Jury of One” (January 30, 1959)
    • “Ain’t Talkin'” (February 7, 1959)
    • “The Big Drop'” (February 14, 1959)
    • “Aces and Eights'” (February 21, 1959)
    • “Husbands are Bad Luck'” (February 28, 1959)
    • “Coney Island Baby” (March 6, 1959)
    • “Save Me in San Salvador” (March 20, 1959)
    • “Swing Low, Sweet Harriet” (April 23, 1959)
    • “Another Man’s Poison” (April 23, 1959)
    • “The Last Aloha” (April 30, 1959)
    • “Shoot Before You Look” (May 1, 1959)
    • “Evidence on the Record” (May 8, 1959)
    • “The Commodore” (May 28, 1959)
    • “See No Evil” (June 4, 1959)
    • “Pen Pals” (July 7, 1959)
    • “Stocks and Blondes” (August 7, 1959)
    • “Bride and Doom” (October 3, 1959)
    • “A Haze on the Lake” (1959)
    • “When I Am Dead, My Darling” (1959)
    • “Curtains for an Angel” (1959)
    • “Dixie is Dead” (1959).
    • “M is for Mother” (1959)
    • “Now Die in It” (1959)
    • “Slay Upon Delivery” (1959)
    • “Groomed to Kill” (1959)
    • “Doll Trouble” (1959)
    • “I Remember Sally” (1959)
    • “Wedding Mourning” (1959)
    • “Merchant of Menace” (1959)
    • “Slab-Happy” (1959)
    • “A Mugging Evening” (1959)
    • “Siamese Twinge” (1959)
    • “Goodbye, Al” (1959)
    (1981, CBS)
    2-hour made-for-television movie/pilot (unsuccessful)
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Written by Calvin Clements, Jr.
    Story by Alex Lucas
    Directed by Daniel Haller
    Produced by Alex Lucas
    Starring Kevin Dobson as MIKE HAMMER
    with Cindy Pickett as Velda
    and Charles Hallahan as Pat Chambers
    Also starring John Alderman, Asher Brauner, John Considine, Donna Dixon,
    Floyd Levine, Ivan Saric, Renata Vanni
    Writer Calvin Clements, Jr. was nominated for a 1981 Edgar for this one.
    (1983, CBS)
    2-hour made-for-television movie/pilot
    Premiere: April 9, 1983
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Written by Bill Stratton
    Directed by Gary Nelson
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    with Tanya Roberts as Velda
    Also starring Michelle Phillips
    Keach’s first appearance as Hammer, but not his last.
    (1984, CBS TVM)
    2-hour made-for-television movie/pilot
    Premiere: January 26, 1984
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Story by Bill Stratton
    Teleplay by Bill Stratton and Stephen Downing
    Directed by Gary Nelson
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    with Lindsay Bloom as Velda
    and Don Stroud as Captain Pat Chambers
    Also starring Kent Williams, Tim McIntire, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Sam Groom, Richard Romanus, Denny Miller, Robyn Douglass, Danny Goldman, Gail Ramsey, Kevin King, Ingrid Anderson, John Hancock
    (1984-1985, CBS series)
    22 60-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Writers: Bill Froehlich, Mark Lisson, Frank Abatemarco, Joe Gores, Joe Gunn, B.W. Sandefur, Stephen Downing, Larry Gross, George Lee Marshall, B.W. Sanderfur, Joe Viola, Ed Scharlach, Stephen Kandel, Marvin Paul Kupfer, Paul Bernbaum, Jack B. Sowards, Chester Krumholz
    Directors: Leo Penn, Paul Krasny, Bernard Kowalski, James Frawley, Michael Preece, Arnold Laven, Sy Salkowitz, Russ Mayberry, Christian I. Nyby II, Sy Salkowitz, Ray Danton, Jon Anderson, Paul Stanley
    Executive Script Consultant: Ed Scharlach
    Executive Story Consultant: Stephen Kandel
    Creative Consultant: B.W. Sandefer
    Produced by Bob Singer, Daniel H. Blatt
    Co-Producer: Frank Abatemarco
    Executive Producer: Jay Bernstein
    Music by Earle Hagen
    Theme: “Harlem Nocturne” by Earle Hagen
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    with Lindsay Bloom as Velda
    Don Stroud as Captain Pat Chambers
    Also starring Kent Williams, Danny Goldman, Lee Benton, Ben Powers, Eddie Barth, Eddie Egan , Donna Denton
    Guest Stars: Barbara Stock, Tracy Scoggins, Tom Hallick, Keye Luke, Michael Constantine, Robert Costanzo, Abe Vigoda, Delta Burke, Sharon Stone, Barbara Bain, Shannon Tweed, Jeff Conaway, Stepfanie Kramer, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Ray Liotta, Barbi Benton, Lou Ferrigno, Michael Ironside, Janine Turner, Dick Van Patten, Susan Strasberg, Henry Gibson, Shanna Reed, Susan Anton, Barbra Horan, George Murdock, Allan Miller, Stephen Elliott, Steven Keats, John Patterson

    • Season One
    • “24 Karat Dead” (January 28, 1984)
    • “Hot Ice” (February 4, 1984)
    • “Seven Dead Eyes” (February 11, 1984)
    • “Vickie’s Song” (February 18, 1984)
    • “Shots in the Dark” (March 3, 1984)
    • “Dead on a Dime” (March 10, 1984)
    • “Sex Trap” (March 24, 1984)
    • “Negative Image” (March 31, 1984)
    • “The Perfect Twenty” (April 7, 1984)
    • “Satan, Cyanide, and Murde” (April 14, 1984)
    • Season Two
    • “Torch Song” (September 29, 1984)
    • “Too Young to Die” (October 6, 1984)
    • “Kill Devil” (October 13, 1984)
    • “Catfight” (October 20, 1984)
    • “Warpath” (October 27, 1984)
    • “Bonecrunch” (November 3, 1984)
    • “Dead Card Down” (November 10, 1984)
    • “The Deadly Prey” (November 10, 1984)
    • “A Death in the Family” (November 24, 1984)
    • “Cold Target” (December 1, 1984)
    • “A Bullet for Benny” (December 8, 1984)
    • “Dead Man’s Run” (December 29, 1984)
    • “Firestorm” (January 5, 1985)
    • “Deadly Reunion” (January 12, 1985)
    (1986, CBS).
    Original airdate: April 18, 1986
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Story by Mark Edward Edens and Rudy Day
    Teleplay by James Miller, Janis b. Hendler, Larry Brody
    Directed by Ray Danton
    Executive producer: Jay Bernstein
    Produced by Gray Fredrickson
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    with Lindsay Bloom as Velda
    Don Stroud as Captain Pat Chambers
    Also starring Lauren Hutton, Bruce Boxleitner, Dabney Coleman, Dionne Warwick, John Karlen, Kent Williams, Stephen Macht, Vince Edwards
    This made-for-TV flick marked the return of Hammer to the tube, after the demise of the weekly show the previous year, and the return of star Stacy Keach to American television after his coke bust in the U.K.
    (1986-1987, CBS series)
    22 60-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Writers: Herman Miller, Fred Freiberger, Duke Sandefur, B. W. Sandefur, Arthur Ginsberg, Howard Berk, Ray Danton, Ed Scharlach, S. S. Schweitzer, Jay Bernstein, Howard Berk, Judy Burns, Nancy Ann Miller, James Schmerer, Don Balluck, Edward DiLorenzo, Paul Bentley Diamond, Stephen Lord, Gregory S. Dinallo, E. Nick Alexander
    Directors: Ray Danton, Bruce Kessler, Don Weis, Sig Neufeld, David Hemmings, John Herzfeld, Marc Daniels, Jon Andersen, David Jackson, Frank Beascoechea, Thomas J. Wright, Paul M. Lynch, Chuck Braverman, Stacy Keach, Ted Lange, Jay Bernstein
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    with Lindsay Bloom as Velda
    Don Stroud as Captain Pat Chambers
    Guest stars: Luca Bercovici, Bill Macy, Barbara Bosson, Lyle Waggoner, Randi Brooks, Julianna McCarthy, Cornel Wilde, Robyn Douglass, Leslie Wing, Peter Iacangelo, John S. Ragin, Michael Delano, Ernie Hudson, Isabel Sanford, George Benson, Jack Carter, Arte Johnson, Jeff Conaway, Malgosia Keach, Bo Hopkins, Theodore Bikel, Foster Brooks, Bernie Kopell, Karen Valentine, Barbara Billingsley, Micky Dolenz, Claude Akins, Peter Scolari, Barbara Carrera, Dennis Cole, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Barbara Stock, Greg Evigan, Emma Samms
    A continuation of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, under a new title. Were they laundering money or something?

    • Season One
    • “Deirdre” (September 27, 1986)
    • “Dead Pigeon” (October 4, 1986)
    • “Golden Lady” (October 11, 1986)
    • “Mike’s Baby” (October 18, 1986)
    • “To Kill a Friend” (November 5, 1986)
    • “Mistress for the Prosecution” (November 12, 1986)
    • “Harlem Nocturne” (November 26, 1986)
    • “Murder in the Cards” (December 3, 1986)
    • “Requiem for Billy” (December 10, 1986)
    • “Little Miss Murder” (January 7, 1987)
    • “To Kill John Doe” (January 21, 1987)
    • “Elegy for a Tramp” (January 28, 1987)
    • “Body Shot” (February 4, 1987)
    • “Who Killed Sister Lorna?” (February 11, 1987)
    • “Deadly Connection” (February 25, 1987)
    • “Green Blizzard” (March 4, 1987)
    • “The Last Laugh” (March 18, 1987)
    • “Lady Killer” (March 25, 1987)
    • “Mike Gets Married” (April 15, 1987)
    • “A Blinding Fear” (April 29, 1987)
    • “Green Lipstick” (May 6, 1987)
    • “A Face In The Night” (May 13, 1987)
    • “Pulses In A Ripple Tank (June 6, 1987)
    Original airdate: May 21, 1989
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Story by Mark Edward Edens and Rudy Day
    Teleplay by Mark Edward Edens
    Directed by John Nicolella
    Executive producer: Jay Bernstein
    Supervising producer: Peter Dunne
    Produced by Jeffrey Morton
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    Also starring Lynda Carter, Lindsay Bloom, Don Stroud, Jim Carrey, Stacy Galina
    Final episode of original CBS series, presented as a standalone made-for-TV flick, featuring a pre-stardom Jim Carrey.
    (1994, aka “Deader Than Ever”)
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Written by John Lau
    Starring Rob Estes as MIKE HAMMER
    and Pamela Anderson as Velda
    Also starring Randi Ingerman, James Hong, Geoff Meed, Chuck McCann and Dr. Joyce Brothers (as herself)
    A pilot for a potential series, with Hammer moving his act to Miami and onto a houseboat. Say what?
    (1997-98, syndicated series)
    26 60-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Mickey Spillane
    Writers: Jennifer Boller
    Directors: Rex Piano
    Executive Producer: Jay Bernstein
    Starring Stacy Keach as MIKE HAMMER
    with Shane Conrad as Nick Farrell
    Shannon Whirry as Velda
    Peter Jason as Capt. Skip Gleason
    Kent Williams as Deputy Mayor Barrington
    Malgosia Tomassi as Maya Ricci
    and Rebecca Chaney as The Face
    Guest stars: Dr. Joyce Brothers, Julian Stone , Leslie Horan, Edward Albert , Mark Arnott, Elizabeth Baldwin, Tracy Scoggins, Tamara Clatterbuck
    Bernstein and Keach try once again to recapture the glory days, in this all-hands-on-deck syndicated show. Keach’s wife, Malgosia Tomassi even chipped in, playing a supporting character.

    • Season One
    • “Prodigal Son” (September 28, 1997)
    • “Beat Street” (October 5, 1997)
    • “www.murder” (October 12, 1997)
    • “Hoop Nightmares” (October 19, 1997)
    • “False Truths” (October 26, 1997)
    • “Halloween” (Novemner 2, 1997)
    • “Body Odor” (November 9, 1997)
    • “Sins of the Father” (November 16, 1997)
    • “A Penny Saved” (November 23, 1997)
    • “The Life You Save” (January 18, 1998)
    • “The Long Road to Nowhere” (January 25, 1998)
    • “The Art of Murder” (February 1, 1998)
    • “Countdown to Murder” (February 8, 1998)
    • “The Cutting Edge” (February 15, 1998)
    • “Big Brother’s Secret” (February 22, 1998)
    • “A Candidate for Murder” (March 1, 1998)
    • “Dump the Creep” (April 12, 1998)
    • “Chop Shop” (April 19, 1998)
    • “The Maya Connection” (April 26, 1998)
    • “Lucky in Love” (May 3, 1998)
    • “Songbird, Part 1” (May 10, 1998)
    • “Songbird, Part 2” (May 17, 1998)
    • “Gone Fishing” (May 24, 1998)
    • “Dead Men Talk” (May 31, 1998)
    • “A New Leaf, Part 1, June 7, 1998)
    • “A New Leaf, Part 2” (June 14, 1998)


    (2018, Clearwater, Florida)
    January 18-February 3, 2018
    Murray Theatre, Clearwater, Florida
    Based on notes left by late Mickey Spillane
    Written by Max Allan Collins
    Directed by Richard Rice
    Starring Gary Sandy as MIKE HAMMER
    With Stephanie Roberts as Velda
    and Jim Wicker as Pat Chambers
    Also starring Mary Rachel Dudley, Rand Smith, Marie-Claude Tremblay, Michele Young, Bob Heitman, Thom Jay
    Based on a page of notes found in the files of the late Mickey Spillane, Collins originally wrote this as an audio drama, and it was in 2011, starring Stacy Keach and a full cast. When it became a stage play it starred Gary (WKRP) Sandy as Hammer. A planned sequel, The Little Death, scheduled for September 2018, also starring Sandy as Hammer, was subsequently cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. Not sure if it was ever produced.


  • Collins, Max Allan, and James L. Traylor.
    One Lonely Knight: Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer  | Buy this book
    Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1984.


    (1998 documentary)
    Written and directed by Max Allan Collins
    This documentary, written and directed by Spillane champion and pal Max Allan Collins made its debut at Noir in Festival in Courmayeur, Italy in 1998 and is currectly available on DVD as part of his Black Box: Shades of Noir collection.


Thanks to Peter Walker (original profile), Jim French (radio info), Max Allan Collins, Christopher Mills, William James Slater, SRey44@aol.com and Lynn Myers for their much-appreciated help with this page.

2 thoughts on “Mike Hammer

  1. GREAT stuff, terrific reference. Glad to see somebody out there who doesn’t automatically hate Biff Elliot or love Ralph Meeker. I got a bootleg DVD of “I, THE JURY” 2 years ago. LOVE it!!! Would love to see an official release, but until then, this one will do.

    Got the Darren McGavin series on DVD a year back. Blew me away. Could NOT stop watching it! Never expected him to top Elliot as my favorite Hammer! Bart Burns as Pat also became my favorite. (The one episode where Ted DeCorsia played Pat, “Death Takes An Encore”, was obviously the pilot, run out of sequence.)

    “COME DIE WITH ME” was the Rob Estes film. His living on a boathouse in Miami makes him more “Tony Rome” than Hammer. Weird. Crazy how Jay Bernstein did that one.

    I’d love “KISS ME DEADLY” a lot more if they’d just changed the names of the 3 main characters. NO WAY that’s Mike, Velda or Pat. It looks & feels like a Joe Stefano “OUTER LIMITS”.

    Read somewhere MY GUN IS QUICK started life as the 2nd unsold TV pilot, expanded to feature length. Makes sense to me. I used to watch Robert Bray on “LASSIE” when I was a kid!

    Kevin Dobson was terrific– I only wish his film had the sex, violence and nudity the Armand Assante film did.

Leave a Reply