Cliff Downey

Created by Robert Leslie Bellem
Pseudonyms include Ellery Watson Calder, Harley L. Court, Walt Bruce, John Grange, Nelson Kent, Kenneth A. Nelson, Jerome Severs Perry & Harcourt Weems

Before there was Dan Turner, there was CLIFF DOWNEY, a P.I. cut very much from the same cloth, although lacking the galloping goofiness that made Turner one of the most popular pulp eyes of all time.

Cliff was the top op for the Consolidated Detective Agency, working on a case that brings him to Shanghai. A pretty unique setting, that, but as it was, Cliff’s big claim to fame is that he appeared in the Volume 1, Number 1 issue of Spicy Detective. It was a pretty standard private eye tale, narrated in the third person, jazzed up with a bit of the wink-wink naughtiness that the Spicy line would soon become known for, but certainly nothing special.

And it certainly featured none of the outrageous verbiage that Bellem would soon unleash upon the world. In fact, the next issue of Spicy Detective (June 1934) brought Dan Turner’s first appearance, in “Murder By Proxy,” and the rest is history.

Or something…

With over 3000 pulp stories to his credit, it’s no surprise Bellem created a few non-Turner P.I.s. Others included Nick Ransom and Duke Pizzatello.


  • “The Shanghai Jester” (April 1934, Spicy Detective)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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