Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin

Created by Rex Stout

“Compose yourself, Archie. Why taunt me? Why upbraid me? I am merely a genius, not a god.”
–Nero Wolfe humbly confesses, in Fer-de-Lance

“Go to hell, I’m reading.”
— Archie has other things on his mind. Also in Fer-de-Lance

At first glance, Rex Stout’s NERO WOLFE might seem out of place among the hard-bitten, world-weary, pavement-pounding P.I.s that this site is usually devoted to. Massively overweight (somewhere between 1/6th and 1/7th of a ton), he’s a cranky, agoraphobic and sedentary gourmet who rarely never leaves his swank Manhattan brownstone (with ten thousand orchids on the roof and a personal elevator). Wolfe is — in nearly every sense — a true armchair detective. And yet…

Nero Wolfe and his investigator/bodyguard/secretary ARCHIE GOODWIN are just as much “eyes” as their predecessors Holmes and Watson – with a big helping of the American P.I. genes that defined the genre.

Over Wolfe’s 40-year literary lifespan (with several additional and officially sanctioned adventures written by Robert Goldsborough), the fat genius and his sharp-eyed (and smart-mouthed) assistant bring down murderers, blackmailers, wartime traitors, and even (on one memorable occasion) leave J. Edgar Hoover out in the snow. These are men who make a good living at a difficult and dangerous business, not minor lords or churchmen who happened to be at the garden party when the butler was stabbed.

Wolfe himself, though temperamental as an opera tenor, unable to work without a steady supply of beer (Remmers, preferably, or his own homebrew) and so indolent that he considers playing pool or darts ‘exercise’, constantly exhibits the classic P.I.’s blend of cynicism, mercenary instinct and romanticism (though he would certainly admit to only the first two and adamantly deny the third, particularly where women are concerned). Over the years, Stout gave hints–but usually no more than hints–of Wolfe’s younger days, all of which suggest that Wolfe was himself a man of action once, and very much ruled by his passions. (Wolfe gave this away in explaining his present size and lifestyle: “I carry this fat to insulate my feelings. They got too strong for me once or twice… If I had stayed lean and kept moving around I would have been dead long ago.”)

There’s still a hard man under that fat. In the “present day” Wolfe is an intellectual mercenary: “I entrap criminals, and find evidence to imprison or kill them, for hire.” He will always serve the cause of right, but nine times out of ten it will be strictly for money (lots of it), and the tenth case will be a matter of pride or (more rarely) a matter of justice… or perhaps of outright revenge. He may seldom take to the mean streets himself, but he has a long reach–in the person of Archie Goodwin.

If Goodwin hadn’t gone to work for Wolfe, he’d certainly have his own agency by now (and temporarily does, in one novel). Far more of a traditional eye, Goodwin is a tough, handsome guy with a photographic memory, a .32 under his well-tailored suit (and sometimes an extra .38 in his overcoat pocket), and a well-developed appreciation for the ladies. And, in the opinion of more than a few cops, officials and stuffed-shirt executives, a mouth that ought to be nailed shut permanently. (Wolfe isn’t immune either–part of Goodwin’s job, as he sees it, is needling the fat man into taking cases, if only to make sure the bills get covered.) He’s not the deductive genius that Wolfe is, but a smart and tenacious op with a good right hook, and a decent and personable man. Most of all, in his narration of the books, he’s a helluva storyteller; it’s his view of the world, and his interaction with Wolfe, that keeps us coming back for each new mystery.

Master chef Fritz Brenner and “orchid nurse” Theodore Horstmann round out Wolfe’s household. Wolfe sometimes employs or works with outside detectives as well; his favourite hired guns are Saul Panzer and Orrie Cather, and he occasionally crosses paths (and swords) with Stout’s female P.I. Dol Bonner. (Another op, Tecumseh Fox, never made an appearance–although the second Tecumseh Fox novel, Bad for Business, was re-written by Stout as a Nero Wolfe novella–at the behest of his publisher, for supposedly double the money–and published as “Bitter End” in the November 1940 issue of The American Magazine. And Wolfe’s adversary/ally in NYPD Homicide, Inspector Cramer, got one novel of his own in Red Threads).

One thing which does set the Wolfe books apart from many others in the P.I. genre is their somewhat lighter and livelier tone; the stories often have reasonably happy endings, rather than the cold ashes and hangovers of the average op’s life. A few don’t end quite so well, particularly Stout’s last Nero Wolfe novel, A Family Affair (1975). Written at the height of the Watergate scandal, it’s probably the darkest of the Wolfe stories; Stout, a deeply patriotic man who often subtly worked his concerns about American life into his mystery plots, seems to have been writing under a cloud of anger and frustration at the corruption revealed in the Nixon administration. His death soon after left the book a sour and unexpected ending to his great creation.

The books have dipped in and out of print over the years, but are still fairly easy to find in used-book shops. The short-story and novella collections are uniformly good; the full-length novels are a bit more uneven in quality (some are excellent, but some tend to be novella-length plots stretched beyond their limits).

For those who want every detail of Wolfe and Goodwin’s lives and cases, William S. Baring-Gould, a journalist, literary scholar and Baker Street Irregular, compiled a plethora of references from the stories up to 1968 into a mock biography, Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street. The book also includes the famous essay speculating that Wolfe was in fact the illegitimate son of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler – and a brief note from Stout that neither confirms nor denies the speculations therein.


Through the years, there have been film and radio adaptations, and even a short-lived comic strip. The first film version, 1936’s Meet Nero Wolfe, was, by most accounts, quite a decent piece of work, with Edward Arnold shining as the gruff, rather unlikable detective, and Lionel Stander as Archie. Wolfe’s penchant for imported beer was replaced with one for hot chocolate, but it was Stander’s performance that author Rex Stout supposedly objected to. After the second film, 1937’s The League of Frightened Men, with Arnold replaced by the more affable (but miscast) Walter Connolly, but Stander reprising his role, Stout refused to sell the movie rights to any more of his books or stories. (In Stander’s defence, the books used as source material were the two earliest Wolfe novels. In those, Goodwin often comes across as a near relation to Race Williams or Three-Gun Terry Mack: more muscle than smarts, with the diction and attitude of a Dead End Kid. Stander’s usual on-screen persona would fit perfectly. However, by the time the movies were being made, Stout had refined Goodwin into a smarter and more developed character, still tough and streetwise, but with a better set of brains and manners. From comments by Stout, he apparently thought Humphrey Bogart would have suited the role well!)

The Adventures of Nero Wolfe was brought to radio in 1943 with Santos Ortega in the lead role, and in 1945-46 with Francis X. Bushman as Nero and Elliot Lewis as Archie. The most intriguing casting, though, was the 1950-51 NBC version, with Sydney Greenstreet as the fat man. It may have bee intriguing casting, but our radio guru, Stewart Wright, confides that:

“The Sidney Greenstreet run of the radio series starring has never been one of my favorites; Greenstreet overacts in it quite terribly. The other four ‘Archies’ in the Greenstreet radio series were: Wally Maher, Harry Bartell, Herb Ellis, and Larry Dobkin. In June 1999, at the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound Convention, I got to see Bartell, Ellis, and Dobkin perform in a Nero Wolfe recreation. Dobkin played Wolfe, Bartell played Archie, and Ellis directed. The reason why there were so many Archies during the Greenstreet run is that the ratings for the series were never good and Greenstreet, as the star, could not believe that the poor ratings were his fault, so the fault must lie with the actor playing Archie. Therefore, actor playing Archie was changed several times. Obviously, the changes didn’t help.”

In 1977, a pilot film for a potential television show, simply entitled Nero Wolfe, was aired, starring Thayer David (familiar to many from the Dark Shadows series) as Wolfe, with a suitably brash Tom Mason as Archie and Biff McGuire as Cramer, and Anne Baxter as the guest star. This movie was based on Stout’s The Doorbell Rang (1965) and was an excellent adaptation. Leonard Maltin also gives it good marks in his annual movie guide. Alas, David’s untimely death postponed the series for four years.

By the time the series finally did arrive, though, it starred William Conrad (best known as Cannon, he of the equally-discriminating palate) as Wolfe, and Lee Horsley (future rich-guy P.I. Matt Houston) as Archie. Unfortunately, near-perfect casting and high production values didn’t turn into any kind of ratings success, and the show, although fondly remembered by some, slipped away after only thirteen episodes. (Most of the teleplays were loosely based–at best–on Stout’s stories, usually sharing only titles with the original material.)

Another problem, correspondent Mike Harris notes, is that “the short-lived series was placed in contemporary times rather than the original period of the books. Further, the series lacked the first-person narrative of Archie Goodwin, which greatly alters the ‘feel’ of the stories.”

In 1982, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation tried their hand at bringing back old-time radio with 13 one-hour episodes of Nero Wolfe, all based on novellas or short stories written by Stout. Mavor Moore played Wolfe and Don Francs excelled as Archie. By all accounts I’ve read, it was quite successful.

In 1986, the first of seven new Wolfe novels by former journalist Robert Goldsborough (with the consent of the Stout estate) was released, and were successful enough that following an eighteen year histus, the series was resumed in 2012.

Meanwhile, in 2000, A&E aired a two-hour TV adaptation of The Golden Spiders, starring Maury Chaykin as the big man himself and Timothy Hutton as Archie. The show proved successful enough that a new series, based on the Stout novels, tmade its debut in 2001.

The show turned out to be quite popular with fans, though it struggled in the ratings. Part of the problem may have been the show’s too-cute-by-half notion of a recurring troup of actors appearing in all episodes. It was hard to get your head around a killer one week being a suspect the next or possibly the victim. The plots, as they were, were intricate enough. Still, Chaykin was, as usual, impressively solid as Wolfe, and Hutton, as a flippant, wise-cracking Archie, was a relevation, all nervous energy and slick style. Alas, A&E cancelled the show after only two seasons.

But it’s not just North American television that’s come a-calling — over the years there have been series from West Germany, a couple from Italy and even one form Russia, featuring the portly, irascible detective and his wise-cracking legman.


Wolfe’s creator, Rex Stout, was an American mystery writer, businessman, and activist. Born in Indiana in 1886 to Quaker parents, he was raised in Kansas and, by most accounts, was quite the precocious child, reading the Bible cover to cover (twice!) before he was four, and becoming state spelling champion at the age of thirteen. After a brief time at Kansas University, joined the navy, and served on President Roosevelt’s yacht from 1906 to 1908. He worked as a bookkeeper, a salesman, hotel manager and store clerk, while trying to crack the pulps, cranking out tales of science fiction, romance and adventure. Ever practical, Stout teamed up with his brother, and established a business whose success would enabler him to continue with his writing.

The first of forty-seven Nero Wolfe books, Fer-de-Lance was published in 1934, to popular and critical acclaim, and by the start of World War II, Stout was a full-time writer. He was also a tireless promoter of the war effort, giving speeches, as hosting radio shows and chairing the Writers War Board. After the war he actively worked for groups including Friends for Democracy, Society for the Prevention of World War III and Writers Board for World Government. Not surprisingly McCarthy’s HUAC committee came sniffing around, but Stout managed to avoid appearing before them. Stout also served several terms as an officer of the Authors’ League of America and one term as president of the Mystery Writers of America. In 1958 he was honored with the MWA Grand Master Award.

Besides books featuring private eyes Dol Bonner, Alphabet Hicks, Sally Colt and Tecumseh Fox, Stout wrote several non-series books, including Under the Andes (1924), How Like a God (1929), and the political thriller The President Vanishes (1934).


  • “Where’s the beer?”
    – the first lines Wolfe ever utters in his very first appearance in Fer-de-Lance
  • “When the day finally comes that I tie Wolfe to a stake and shoot him, one of the fundamental reasons will be his theory that the less I know the more I can help…He merely can’t stand to have anyone keep up with him at any time on any track.”
    — Archie Goodwin
  • “You know, son, you have one or two good qualities. In a way I even like you. In another way I could stand and watch your hide peeling off and not shed any tears. You have undoubtably got the goddamnedest nerve of anybody I know except Nero Wolfe.”
    — Inspector Cramer to Archie
  • “Business is taboo at the dinner table, but crime and criminals aren’t, and the Rosenberg case hogged the conversation all through the anchovy fritters, partridge in casserole with no olives in the sauce, cucumber mousse, and Creole curds and cream.”
    — Death of a Doxy


  • “I don’t know whether to call them vampires or cannibals…let them roll their own.”
    Rex Stout on someone continuing a literary series after the author’s death
  • “Nero Wolfe, the fat detective of Rex Stout’s novels, towers over his rivals… he is an exceptional character creation.”
    — The New Yorker
  • “Rex Stout, through the voice of Archie telling us about his world (a full third of which was occupied by Nero Wolfe), raised detective fiction to the level of art with these books. He gave us genius of at least two kinds, and a strong realist voice that was shot through with hope.”
    — Walter Mosley
  • “The archetypical series detective for me was and is the pair of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin from the Rex Stout series. Wolfe and Goodwin exist in a kind of limbo where the world changes around them, but they don’t change with it, and the world… kind of bends to protect their lack of change.”
    — Sara Gran (June 2016, The Secret Ingredient is Crime)
  • “The conceit was perfect. He drank beer and never left his house.”
    — Dick Wolf (Law & Order) (July 2015, Entertainment Weekly)
  • “Rex Stout writes it exactly how it would be done; it’s like a training manual.”
    Elizabeth Breck in The Five Most Realistic Pis In Fiction (2021, CrimeReads)




  • “Bitter End” (November 1940, The American Magazine; reworking of Double For Death, the first Tecumseh Fox novel)
  • “Cordially Invited to Meet Death” (April 1942, The American Magazine)
  • “Not Quite Dead Enough” (December 1942, The American Magazine)
  • “Will To Murder” (1942, The American Magazine; aka “Invitation to Murder”)
  • “Black Orchids” (1942, Black Orchids)
  • “Booby Trap” (August 1944, The American Magazine)
  • “Help Wanted, Male” (August 1945, The American Magazine)
  • “Instead of Evidence” (May 1946, The American Magazine; aka “Murder on Tuesday”)
  • “Before I Die” (April 1947, The American Magazine)
  • “Man Alive” (December 1947, The American Magazine)
  • “Bullet for One” (July 1948, The American Magazine)
  • “Omit Flowers” (November 1948, The American Magazine)
  • “Door to Death” (June 1949, The American Magazine)
  • “The Gun with Wings” (December 1949, The American Magazine)
  • “Disguise for Murder” (September 1950, The American Magazine; aka “The Twisted Scarf;” included in Curtains For Three)
  • “Cop Killer” (February 1951, The American Magazine)
  • “See No Evil” (August 1951, The American Magazine; aka “The Squirt and the Monkey”)
  • “Home to Roost” (January 1952, The American Magazine; aka “Nero Wolfe and the Communist Killer”)
  • “This Will Kill You” (September 1952, The American Magazine; aka “This Won’t Kill You”)
  • “Scared to Death” (December 1953, The American Magazine; aka “The Zero Clue”)
  • “When a Man Murders” (May 1954, The American Magazine)
  • “The Body in the Hall” (December 1954, The American Magazine; aka “Die Like a Dog”)
  • “The Last Witness” (May 1955, The American Magazine; aka “The Next Witness”)
  • “Immune to Murder” (November 1955, The American Magazine; also 1957, Three For the Chair)
  • “Nero Wolfe and the Vanishing Chair” (May 1956, The American Magazine; aka “A Window For Death;” included in Three For the Chair)
  • “Too Many Detectives” (September 14, 1956, Colliers; included in Three For the Chair)
    Several of Stout’s detectives appear, including Dol Bonner and  Sally Colt.
  • “Christmas Party” (January 4, 1957, Colliers; aka “The Christmas Party Murder;” included in And Four To Go)
  • “Easter Parade” (April 19, 1957, Look; aka “The Easter Parade Murder”)
  • “Fourth of July Picnic” (July 9, 1957, Look; aka “The Labor Union Murder”)
  • “Murder Is No Joke” (February 14, 1958, And Four To Go)
  • “Frame-Up for Murder” (1958, The Saturday Evening Post; published in three parts in the June 21, June 28 and July 5 issues; expanded from “Murder Is No Joke”)
  • “Method Three for Murder” (January 30, 1960, The Saturday Evening Post)
  • “Poison à la Carte” (1960, Three at Wolfe’s Door)
  • “The Rodeo Murder” (1960; Three at Wolfe’s Door)
  • “Counterfeit for Murder” (January 14, 1961, The Saturday Evening Post; aka “Counterfeiter’s Knife”)
  • “Death of a Demon” (June 10, 1961, The Saturday Evening Post)
  • “Eeny Meeny Murder Mo” (March 1962, EQMM)
  • “Kill Now – Pay Later” (December 9, 1962, The Saturday Evening Post)
  • “Murder Is Corny” (1962, The Saturday Evening Post)
  • “Blood Will Tell” (December 1963, EQMM)
  • “Assault on a Brownstone” (1985, Death Times Three)
    An unpublished early version of “Counterfeit for Murder.” Having finished the story Stout was displeased with it, and reworked it, keeping only a few starting pages and even changing who gets murdered. It was eventually published posthumously in Death Times Three (1985).



  • Black Orchids (1942; aka “The Case of the Black Orchids”; two stories) Buy this book
    Some paperback editions contain only the title story.
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (1944, two stories) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • Trouble in Triplicate (1949, three stories)
  • Three Doors to Death (1950, three stories)
  • Curtains for Three (1951, three stories)
  • Triple Jeopardy (1952, three stories)
  • Three Men Out (1954, three stories)
  • Three Witnesses (1956, three stories)
  • Three for the Chair (1957, three stories) | Buy this book
  • And Four To Go (1958, four stories)
  • Three at Wolfe’s Door (1960, three stories)
  • Homicide Trinity (1962, three stories)
  • Trio for Blunt Instruments (1964, three stories)
  • Triple Zeck (1974)| Buy this book
    Collects And Be a Villain, The Second Confession and In the Best Families.
  • Death Times Three (1985, three stories; published posthumously)
  • The Nero Wolfe Mystery Series: The Zeck Trilogy (2016) Kindle it!
    Collects And Be a Villain, The Second Confession and In the Best Families.


  • “Watson Was a Woman” (March 1, 1941, The Saturday Evening Post)


    (1957-58, Columbia Features)
    Dailies & Sundays
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Writers: John Broome (credited to Rex Stout), Ed Harron
    Artist: Mike Roy, Pete Hoffman, Fran Matera, Jim Christiansen
    The comic strip adaptation, despite being well-drawn, had no such popularity or longevity. The daily and Sunday strip debuted at the end of November 1956 and managed to stay afloat for less than a year and a half. For such a short-lived strip it had a tumultuous history.
    One thing that’s rather odd about the story that you excerpt: Wolfe was notorious in the books for refusing to leave his brownstone, and very little could induce him to so leave. Usually, it was Archie that did the legwork. Yet here is Wolfe, in the fresh air, no less. Curious.


    (1936, Columbia)
    Based on the novel Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
    Directed by Herbert Biberman
    Starring Edward Arnold as NERO WOLFE
    with Lionel Stander as Archie Goodwin
    Also starring Joan Perry, Victor Jory, Nana Bryant, Dennie Moore
    Look for Rita Cansino (later Rita Hayworth) in a minor role.
    (1937, Columbia)
    Based on the novel by Rex Stout
    Directed by Alfred E. Green
    Starring Walter Connolly as NERO WOLFE
    with Lionel Stander as Archie Goodwin
    Also starring Eduardo Ciannelli, Irene Hervey, Victor Kilian, Walter Kingsford


    (1943, NBC Blue)
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Produced by Himan Brown
    Starring Santos Ortega as NERO WOLFE
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Starring Francis X. Bushman as NERO WOLFE
    and Elliot Lewis as Archie Goodwin

    • “Shakespeare” (December 15, 1946)
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    (1950-51, NBC)
    30-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Starring Sydney Greenstreet as NERO WOLFE
    and Gerald Mohr as Archie Goodwin
    (later replaced by Luis Van Rooten, Wally Maher, Harry Bartell, Herb Ellis, and Larry Dobkin. In the same one-year run!)

    • “Stamped For Murder” (October 20, 1950)
    • “Dear Dead Lady” (November 3, 1950)
    • “The Careless Cleaner” (November 17, 1950)
    • “The Case of the Beautiful Archer” (November 24, 1950)
    • “The Friendly Rabbit” (December 1, 1950)
    • “The Impolite Corpse” (December 8, 1950)
    • “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” (December 15, 1950)
    • “The Slaughtered Santas” (December 22, 1950)
    • “The Bashful Body” (December 29, 1950)
    • “The Deadly Sell-Out” (January 5, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Calculated Risk” (January 19, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Phantom Fingers” (January 26, 1951)
    • “Vanishing Shells” (February 2, 1951)
    • “Party for Death” (February 16, 1951)
    • “The Case of he Benevolent Medic” (February 23, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Hasty Will” (March 2, 1951)
    • “The Disappearing Diamonds” (March 9, 1951)
    • “The Midnight Ride” (March 16, 1951)
    • “The Final Page” (March 23, 1951)
    • “The Tell-Tale Ribbon” (March 30, 1951)
    • “A Slight Case of Perjury” (April 6, 1951)
    • “The Case of the Lost Heir” (April 20, 1951)
    • “The Case of Room 304” (April 27, 1951)
    (1982, CBC Radio)
    13 one-hour episodes
    Based on novellas and short stories by Rex Stout
    Adapted and Produced by Ron Hartman
    Music by Don Gillis
    Starring Mavor Moore as NERO WOLFE
    and Don Francks as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    with Cec Linder as Inspector Cramer
    Frank Perry as Fritz
    Alfie Scopp as Saul
    Guest appearances by Lally Cadeau, Jack Creely, Neil Munro, Eric Peterson, Fiona Reid, Jayne Eastwood, August Schellenberg, Maria Loma, Jackie Burroughs, Brian George, Arch McDonnell, Barbara Hamilton, Terry Tweed, Lynne Griffin, Sandy Webster, Martha Gibson, Charmion King, Budd Knapp, Ailine Seaton, Mary Peery, Patricia Hamilton, Meana E. Meana, Helen Hughs
    Generally considered the best radio adaptation, although your mileage may vary. 

    • “Disguise For Murder” (January 16, 1982)
    • “Before I Die” (January 23, 1982)
    • “Counterfeit for Murder” (January 30, 1982)
    • “The Cop Killer” (February 6, 1982)
    • “Christmas Party” (February 13, 1982)
    • “Cordially Invited to Meet Death” (February 20, 1982)
    • “Man Alive” (February 27, 1982)
    • “Instead of Evidence” (March 6, 1982)
    • “Eeney Meeny Murder Mo” (March 13, 1982)
    • “The Squirt and the Monkey” (March 20, 1982)
    • “The Next Witness” (March 27, 1982)
    • “Death of a Demon” (April 3, 1982)
    • “Murder is No Joke” (April 10, 1982)


    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Written by Sydney Carroll
    Directed by Tom Donovan
    Starring Kurt Kasznar as NERO WOLFE
    and William Shanter as ARCHIE GOODWIN

    • “Count the Man Down”
      Intended as a pilot, and starring Kurt Kasznar (who?) as Nero Wolfe, and Captain Kirk as Archie. Kasnar was okay, but Shatner made for a pretty good Archie. Unaired and unsold, but occasionally available on YouTube.
    (1961, NWRV-Hamburg)
    Mini-series, in German
    Black and white
    Based on the novel Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout
    Directed by Kurt Wilhelm
    Starring Heinz Klevenow as NERO WOLFE
    and Joachim Fuchsberger as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    Also starring Coral, Robert Graf, Herbert Hübner, Gerlinde Locker, Harald Mannl, Karl Paryla, Rosel Schäfer, Horst Tappert, Karl Michael Vogler
    A West German production.
    (1969, RAI)
    10 made-for-television movies
    Varying lengths, from 73-151 minutes
    Black and white
    Language: Italian
    Based on the the novels and novellas by Rex Stout
    Directed by Giuliana Berlinguer
    Starring Tino Buazzelli as NERO WOLFE
    and Paolo Ferrari as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    With Pupo De Luca as Fritz Brenner
    and Renzo Palmer as Inspettore Cramer
    Also starring Paola Borboni, Silvia Monelli, Ugo Pagliai, Silvio Spaccesi, Aldo Giuffrè, Carla Gravina, Marina Berti, Aroldo Tieri, Tino Schirinzi, Mario Pisu, Vittorio Sanipoli, Gianni Bonagura, Giusi Raspani Dandolo, Corrado Olmi, Eros Pagni, Mario Carotenuto, Giuseppe Mancini, Maria Monti, Nicoletta Rizzi, Mario Bardella, Gianna Paiz, Esmeralda Rispoli
    These supposedly aired on Italian TV in the late 1960s and early 70s, and many fans feel actor Tino Buazzelli (picture) was the actor who most closely resembled the Wolfe of Stout’s books… and their imagination.

    • “Il pesce più grosso” (“The Doorbell Rang”)
    • “Per la fama di Cesare” (“Some Buried Caesar”)
    • “Veleno in sartor” (“The Red Box”)
    • “Circutto chiuso” (If Death Ever Slept)
    • “Il patto dei sei” (“The Rubber Band)
    • “La casa degli attori” (“Counterfeit For Murder)
    • “La bella bugiarda” (Murder Is Corny”)
    • “Salsicce ‘Mezzanotte'” (“Too Many Cooks )
    • “Sfida al cioccolato” (“Gambit”)
    • “Un incidente di caccia” (“Where There’s a Will “)
    (1977, ABC)
    Based on the novel The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout
    Written and directed by Frank D. Gilroy
    Music: Leonard Rosenman
    Starring Thayer David as NERO WOLFE
    and Tom Mason as Archie Goodwin
    with David Hurst as Fritz
    John O’Leary as Theodore
    Lewis Charles as Saul
    and Biff McGuire as Inspector Cramer
    Also starring Anne Baxter, Frank Campanella, John Randolph, John Gerstad , John Hoyt, Brooke Adams
    (1981, NBC)
    14 60-minute episodes
    Based on novellas and short stories by Rex Stout
    Executive producers: Ben Roberts, Ivan Goff
    Starring William Conrad as NERO WOLFE
    and Lee Horsley as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    Allan Miller as Inspector Cramer
    George Voskovec as Fritz
    George Wyner as Saul Panzer
    Robert Coote as Theodore Horstman

    • “The Golden Spiders” (January 16, 1981)
    • “Death on the Doorstep” (January 23, 1981)
    • “Before I Die” (January 30, 1981)
    • “Wolfe at the Door” (Febuary 6, 1981)
    • “Might As Well Be Dead” (Febuary 13, 1981)
    • “To Catch a Dead Man” (Febuary 20, 1981)
    • “In the Best of Families” (March 6, 1981)
    • “Murder by the Book” (March 13, 1981)
    • “What Happened to April?” (March 20, 1981)
    • “Gambit” (April 3, 1981)
    • “Death and the Dolls” (April 10, 1981)
    • “The Murder in Question” (April 17, 1981)
    • “Blue Ribbon Hostage” (May 5, 1981)
    • “Sweet Revenge” (June 2, 1981)
    (2000, A&E)
    Made-for-TV movie/pilot for series
    Two hours
    Premiere: March 5, 2000
    Based on the novel by Rex Stout
    Teleplay by Paul Monash
    Directed by Bill Duke
    Original Music by Michael Small
    Produced by Susan Murdoch
    Executive producers: Howard Braunstein, Michael Jaffe
    Executive producer (A&E Network): Delia Fine
    Starring Maury Chaykin as NERO WOLFE
    with Timothy Hutton as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    Also starring Larissa Laskin, Gary Reineke, Elizabeth Brown, Nicky Guadagni, Robert Bockstael, Beau Starr, Bill Smitrovich, Saul Rubinek, Trent McMullen, Fulvio Cecere, R.D. Reid, Mimi Kuzyk, Nancy Beatty, Colin Fox
    The pilot that finally clicked.
    (2001-02, A&E)
    26 60-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Writers: Michael Jaffe, Sharon Elizabeth Doyle, Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin, Janet Roach, Mark Stein, Stuart Kaminsky
    Directors: Timothy Hutton, Holly Dale, John L’Ecuyer, Neill Fearnley, James Tolkan, George Bloomfield, Alan Smithee
    Producer: Michael Jaffe
    Starring Maury Chaykin as NERO WOLFE
    with Timothy Hutton as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    Also starring Colin Fox as Fritz Brenner
    Bill Smitrovich as Inspector Cramer
    and Conrad Dunn as Saul Panzer
    Guest stars: Debra Monk, Marian Seldes, Francie Swift, Saul Rubinek, George Plimpton, Penelope Ann Miller, Carrie Fisher, Griffin Dunne

    • SEASON ONE | Buy season one on DVD
    • “The Doorbell Rang” (April 22, 2001; two hour debut).,.Buy this video
    • “Champagne for One” (Part One) (April 29, 2001)
    • “Champagne for One” (Part Two) (May 6, 2001)
    • “Prisoner’s Base” (Part One) (May 13, 2001)
    • “Prisoner’s Base” (Part Two) (May 20, 2001)
    • “Eeny Meeny Murder Moe” (June 3, 2001)
    • “Disguise for Murder” (June 17, 2001)
    • “Door to Death” (June 24, 2001)
    • “The Christmas Party” (July 1, 2001)
    • “Over My Dead Body” (Part One) (July 8, 2001)
    • “Over My Dead Body” (Part Two) (July 15, 2001)
    • SEASON TWO | Buy season two on DVD
    • “Death of a Doxy” (April 14, 2002; two hours)
    • “The Next Witness” (April 21, 2002)
    • “Die Like a Dog” (April 28, 2002)
    • “Murder Is Corny” (May 5, 2002)
    • “The Mother Hunt” (Part One) (May 12, 2002)
    • “The Mother Hunt” (Part Two) (May 19, 2002)
    • “Poison a la Carte” (May 26, 2002)
    • “Too Many Clients” (Part One) (June 2, 2002)
    • “Too Many Clients” (Part Two) (June 9, 2002)
    • “Before I Die” (June 16, 2002)
    • “Help Wanted, Male” (June 30, 2002)
    • “The Silent Speaker” (Part One) (July 14, 2002)
    • “The Silent Speaker” (Part Two) (July 21, 2002)
    • “The Cop Killer” (August 11, 2002)
    • “Immune to Murder” (August 18, 2002)
    • Meanwhile, outside the American/Canadian market…
      Several of the episodes were combined and repackaged, or expanded to make 90-minute episodes outside the American/Canadian market.
    • “Wolfe Stays In” (combined “Eeny Meeny Murder Moe” and “Disguise for Murder”)
    • “Wolfe Goes Out” (combined “Door to Death” with “Christmas Party”)
    • “The Next Witness” (expanded into 90-minute episode)
    • “Poison à la Carte” (expanded into 90-minute episode)
    • “Before I Die” (expanded into 90-minute episode)
    • “Immune to Murder” (expanded into 90-minute episode)
    (2001, Russian)
    100 minute TV movie
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Teleplay by Vladimir Valutskiy
    Directed by Yevgeni Tatarsky
    Musical score by Vladimir Dashkevich
    Produced by Sergei Zhigunov
    Starring Donatas Banionis as NERO WOLFE
    and Sergei Zhigunov as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    Also starring Sergei Migitsko, Anna Molchanova
    Supposedly one of at least five Russian Nero Wolfe TV movies made in 2001-02. Other episodes filmed include adaptations of “Before I Die,” The Gun With Wings,” “The Silent Speaker,” “Disguise for Murder” and “Man Alive.” And yes, just like the contemporary A&E production, one of the producers was also the actor who played Archie.
    (2012, RAI)
    Language: Italian
    Based on characters created by Rex Stout
    Starring Francesco Pannofino as NERO WOLFE
    and Pietro Sermonti as ARCHIE GOODWIN
    In this second adaptation by the Italian broadcaster RAI, Nero and Archie are Italian, and live in Rome.


  • Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street (1969, by William S. Baring-Gould) Buy this book
    Though necessarily incomplete (Stout hadn’t finished  writing the series), this landmark volume (subtitled “The Life and Times of America’s Largest Detective”), informative and sometimes amusing.
  • Rex Stout: A Majesty’s Life (1977, by John J. McAleer) Buy this book
    Reprint of Edgar-winning biography. Features an intro by P. G. Wodehouse, and an afterword by Andrew McAleer, creator of mismatched detecting duo James P. Hillton and Madeleine V. LaCroix.
  • At Wolfe’s Door: The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout (1990, by J. Kenneth Van Dover)Buy this book
    First published in 1990, this new edition of the indispensable guide features additional material. Includes synopses of every mystery novel and short story. Each entry includes commentary and short essays, and comments on Stout’s place in the genre.
  • The Nero Wolfe Cookbook (1996, by Rex Stout, and the editors of Viiking Press)Buy this book
    Collection of varied recipes culled from the Nero Wolfe books, with plenty of period photos and quotes from the books. Come for the “eggs au buerre noir,” and stay for the squirrel stew.
  • Pachter, Josh, editor, The Misadventures of Nero Wolfe: Parodies & Pastiches Featuring the Great Detective of West 35th Street (anthology) Buy this book | Kindle it!
    A collection of stories that play fast and loose with Rex Stout’s legendary private detective by Lawrence Block, Loren D. Estleman, John Lescroart, Robert Goldsborough, Thomas Narcejac, Michael Bracken, Robert Lopresti, Robert Goldsborough, Marion Mainwaring and others.


  • Nero Wolfe: A Social Commentary on the U.S.
    An essay by Thrilling Detective Web Site contributor Marcia Kiser.
  • The Wolfe Pack
    The official site of the long-running (since 1969!) Nero Wolfe fan club. A real labour-of-love site, from web master Carol Novak. Tell her I said “Hi!”
  • James A. Rock and Company
    This publisher has several Stout-related offerings, with loads of info about the McAleer Biography, the Van Dover book, and the Rex Stout Interview.
  • The Art of Nero Wolfe
    Mike Roehrman’s fine-looking site devoted solely to the cover art of the Nero Wolfe canon. A book-by-book account, complete with cover scans.Official A&E site offered listings, program information, recipes, quizzes, contests and more for their TV series. I’m not sure how long this site will stay up, now that the show’s been canned.
  • Rex Stout (1886-1975)
    Interesting collection of quotes, articles, essays and linksfrom Alex in Bratislava, Slovakia.
  • The Nero Wolfe Cookbook
    A review by David Partridge (November 2020, Daily Telegraph)
  • “Why Nero Wolfe Likes Orchids” (April 19, 1963 Life Magazine; by Archie Goodwin)
    Actually authored by Rex Stout, of course. A transcription of the article can be found at here.
Respectfully submitted by Don B. Hilliard and Kevin Burton Smith ((C) 1999-2013), with further help and ongoing contributions from Marc LaViolette, Eric Jamborsky, Alex Avenarius, Mike Harris, Brian Baker, James A. Rock, Mike Churchill and Tina Silber(television), Jean Quinn-Manzo (comics) and Stewart Wright (radio).

2 thoughts on “Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin

  1. Hi there, I have a large (though not complete) collection of Nero Wolfe books (including some by Robert Goldsborough) that I feel I should now pass on to new readers. Would anyone be interested in buying them? I’m in New Zealand, but am happy to ship overseas at the buyer’s expense. Most of the books are paperbacks and some are quite old, but they are all in readable condition. Ideally, I would like someone to buy the whole lot, even if it means a lower price per book. I will provide a list of titles to anyone who is interested. Please email me directly at Thank you!

  2. Three Rex Stout novels have Nero Wolfe leaving home: Too Many Cooks, Some Buried Caesar and Death of a Dude.

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