Queenie Starr

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“Hope I get home before this torn dress falls off.”
— how come Mike Hammer never worries about that?

QUEENIE STARR, “The Glamor Girl of Hollywood,” was not a private eye, but she at least deserves mention here as the frequently rescued damsel in distress in a dozen or so comic strip adventures that ran in the pages of the Hollywood Detective pulp.

A buxom blonde with “unusual dexterity,” Queenie was a Hollywood starlet whose career, it seemed, was perpetually about to take off. So she and her roomie, the equally lovely Rita Raye, spend a lot of time dressing and undressing, lounging around in various stages of undress, posing for girlie shots or sunning poolside in a bathing, killing time, waiting for their big break.

Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, she kept running into criminals, and somehow, in almost every story, Queenie would–through some mishap or another–in the course of fleeing from some kind of Tinsel Town villainy, would suffer from a major wardrobe malfunction. She would then have to race through the remainder of each story in her skimpies, which often consisted of stockings, garters, flowing negligees, merry widows, and high heels (the better for running). Jealousy of a another actress seems to be a common motive.

Whereupon, she would require rescue from some studly alpha male, often a producer or director.

Uh-huh.

It’s obvious what they were really selling here, and it wasn’t Queenie’s crimefighting skills. But the times were changing, albeit slowly.

Still, by the time one of Queenie’s stories, “Death on Tour,” was eventually re-reprinted in Dark Mysteries (July 1955), some of the artwork was altered: gun blasts and blood were removed, and Queenie’s skimpy skimpy attire was swapped out for long dresses. I guess that counts as progress of sorts. At least until you consider that Honey West was just around the corner.

By the way, it’s unclear who created Queenie, given that creators were often left uncredited (just ask Bill Finger), and the work was often unsigned, or only signed by the artist, although her first adventure suggests Jim Barry may have created her. Eugene “Gene” Leslie, meanwhile, drew most of the strips, and another of her artists was Keats Petree, who was known for his work on Queenie, as well as Sally the Sleuth, another clothing-challenged trouble magnet.

UNDER OATH

  • “Unfortunately for the various Hollywood crooks, schemers and murderers she gets mixed up with, prancing about in negligees or lingerie doesn’t seem to hinder her ability to solve Tinsel Town’s crimes. All in all, quirky retro stuff, but very interesting.”
    — The Stilletto Gumshoe

COMIC STRIPS

Art by Jim Barry, R. Brown, Keats Petree, Gene Leslie,

  • “Death on Watch” (November 1948, Hollywood Detective; art by Jim Barry)
  • “The Race with Death” (February 1949, Hollywood Detective; art by Ray Brown)
  • “Focus for Death” (June 1949, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Primeval Passions” (October 1949, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Death at the Party” (December 1949, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Brush with the Law” (January 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Death Scene” (February 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Death Directs” (March 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Death on Tour” (April 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Eugene Leslie)
  • “Drive-in to Danger” (May 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Keats Petree)
  • “Starring: A Corpse” (June 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Keats Petree)
  • “The Fatal Hair” (August 1950, Hollywood Detective; art by Keats Petree)

REPRINTS

  • CRIME MYSTERIES
    (1952-54, Ribage Publishing Corp.)
    15 issues
    Reprints of Queenie only appeared in the first six issues. When Crime Mysteries was combined with another short-lived comic book, Crime Smashers, beginning in issue #7, Queenie was replaced with strips featuring Sally the Sleuth.

    • “Death Directs”(May 1952; #1)
    • (July 1952; #2)
    • (September 1952;  #3)
    • “Drive-In to Danger” (November 1952; #4)
    • “Death on Tour” (January 1953; #5)
    • “Primeval Passions”(March 1953; #6)

COLLECTIONS

  • THE HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVES | Buy this book
    (1991, Malibu)
    Reprints several stories featuring Queenie Starr and Dan Turner. Not together, though, and the cover is truly horrid.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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