John D. MacDonald

Pseudonyms included John Wade Farrel, Robert Henry, John Lane, Scott O’Hara, Peter Reed & Henry Reiser
(1916-1986)

“If any two people could ever really get inside each other’s head, it would scare the pee out of both of them.”
Travis McGee in Dress Her in Indigo

“(He was) the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller.”
Stephen King

jdm
B
est known as the creator of Travis McGee, JOHN DANN MacDONALD was one of the last of the old pulpsters to cross over successfully to the burgeoning paperback market of the fifties.

But he was more, much more than that. He was one of the most successful authors of his time, and he continued to regularly appear on the bestseller lists well into the eighties. In his long career, he produced over seventy books, mostly in the hard-boiled/crime vein, although he did produce some decent work in science fiction, fantasy, romance and other genres. He even produced some notable non-fiction, particularly No Deadly Drug, a true crime book, and The House Guests, a cat’s eye view of the world.

He described himself, in the 1950 Writer’s Yearbook as “a small businessman in a highly competitive field, fabricating a product for sale in a buyer’s market, and required to establish my own merchandising and marketing procedures.”

Sure. But to his millions of fans, he was much, much more than that.

He was born in Pennsylvania in 1916, and received his MBA at Harvard, but moved to Florida after World War II. While stationed in the Far East, he wrote a short story to muse himself and sent it to his wife. His wife loved it, and supposedly without MacDonald’s permission, submitted it to the prestigious slick, Story, where it was accepted. Inspired by this success, MacDonald decided to become a writer, and upon his return Stateside, he wrote hundreds of stories, mostly for the pulps, under various pen names. The May 1950 issue of Detective Tales, for example, contained three stories by MacDonald,including  two under the house names Scott O’Hara and John Lane. He continued to pump them out until, as he put it, “the last of them were shot out from under me.”

Fortunately, just as the pulps were dying out, MacDonald was able to catch the rising wave of the paperback boom. From 1950 until he released his first Travis McGee novel in 1964, he published over forty PBO’s, all stand-alones, mostly crime fiction. Those crime novels that he produced during this period are masters of the form — spare, tight, often dark and even nasty tales of desperate men in way over their heads; taut morbid fables with psychological underpinnings and a burgeoning environmental awareness, often set in his adopted state of Florida.

In fact, MacDonald is often credited with being one of the first crime writers to focus on the environment and made greedy real estate developers (and the politicians who feed off them) his frequent punching bags, with his 1962 novel A Flash Of Green, published the same year as Rachel Carson’s nonfiction bestseller Silent Spring, is a likely contender for perhaps the first environmentally-correct hard-boiled novel (think of it as “green noir”). Many later Florida crime writers have followed suit, and the concern for Florida’s fragile environment has become a recurring theme in much of the crime fiction from that state. Like Tim Dorsey, the author of the Serge Storms books, who tagged MacDonald as “Florida’s Nostradamus. He was writing about protecting our environment long before we knew it was an issue.”

But many of his protagonists weren’t crusaders. They were often simply working joes, harried businessmen or low-level crooks. But of course there were also cops, journalists and other investigator types, most notably the cynical insurance investigator, Cliff Bartells, who appears in the powerful The Brass Cupcake (1950), reporter Jimmy Wing, who shows up in the afore-mentioned A Flash of Green (1962). Both these early novels, in my opinion, seem to me like like dry runs for McGee, and are worth tracking down. An honest-to-god private investigator, Paul Stanial, figures prominently in The Drowner (1963), as well.

And all these books certainly served MacDonlad well when he finally unleashed his series character, the colourful and larger-than-life McGee. What could have been merely a string of cheesy paperbacks about a mouth-breathing pseudo-Robin Hood beach bum instead became, in many ways, a chronicle of America’s own growing awareness of social issues. And, oh yeah, simply as pure adventure, they kicked ass. Serious ass.

MacDonald served as president of The Mystery Writers of America, and was elected a Grand Master in 1972. He also received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Short Story in 1955, the French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in 1964 and the American Book Award in 1980, and was the only mystery writer to ever win the National Book Award, for The Green Ripper (1979).

UNDER OATH

  • “”A novelist of the highest professionalism and a social critic armed with vigorous opinions stingingly expressed. His prose had energy, wit and bite, his plots were humdingers, his characters talked like real people, and his knowledge of the contemporary world was — no other word will do — breathtaking.”
    — Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post.
  • “Most readers loved MacDonald’s work because he told a rip-roaring yarn. I loved it because he was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise, and breath-grabbing beauty…For me and many natives (of Florida), some of McGee’s finest moments were when he paused, mid-adventure, to inveigh against the runaway exploitation of this rare and dying paradise. If a cypress swamp got plowed to make way for another shopping mall, he took it personally: “This was instant Florida, tacky and stifling and full of ugly and spurious energies.” Every McGee saga guarantees such splendidly mordant commentary. The customary targets are greedhead developers, crooked politicians, chamber-of-commerce flacks, and the cold-hearted scammers who flock like buzzards to the Sunshine State. For John D. MacDonald, these were not just useful fictional villains; they were villains of real life. When he passed away unexpectedly in 1986, millions of fans worldwide wondered what would become of Travis McGee. Not me. I wondered what would become of Florida without him….”
    Carl Hiaasen, from an intro to The Deep Blue Goodbye

SHORT STORIES

Yeah, I know…I’ll get to it….Suffice it to say that in his lifetime, MacDonald sold over six hundred stories in his liftime, to all sorts of magazines, in all kinds of stories. He was published in crime pulps such as Detective Tales, Dime Detective, Dime Mystery, Doc Savage, Justice, Mammoth Mystery, The Shadow Magazine and even Black Mask, and in such slicks such as Collier’s, Esquire, Liberty, Playboy, This Week and Cosmopolitain. He wrote sports stories, science fiction, adventures, romances, westerns and mysteries. Often more than one of his stories would appear in the same magazine, often under some pseudonym or another. The July 1949 issue of Fifteen Sports Stories, for example, has four stories by MacDonald in it. No wonder he resorted to pen names.

  • “Conversation on Deck” (January 1946, The American Courier)
  • “The Game” (February 1946, The American Courier)
  • “Cash on the Coffin” (May 1946, Detective Tales)
  • “A Handful of Death” (June 1946, Doc Savage; as Peter Reed)
  • “Blame Those Who Die” (June 25, 1946, Short Stories)
  • “Bury the Pieces!” (July 1946, Dime Mystery)
  • “The Flying Elephants” (July 10, 1946, Short Stories)
  • “Interlude in India” (July-August 1946, Story)
  • “The Dry Mouth of Danger” (August 1946, Doc Savage)
  • “The Dead Dream” (September 1946, The Shadow)
  • “Justice in the Sun” (October 1946, Doc Savage)
  • “Female of the Species” (October 1946, Dime Detective)
  • “Get Dressed for Death” (October 1946, Mammoth Mystery)
  • “he Little People” (November 1946, Doc Savage)
  • “The Scarred Hand” (November 1946, Doc Savage; aka “I Accuse Myself”; as John Farrell)
  • “The Startled Face of Death” (November 1946, Doc Savage, November 1946; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “The Whispering Knives” (November 1946, The Shadow)
  • “Coward in the Game” (November 25,1946, Short Stories)
  • “Private War” (December 1946, Doc Savage)
  • “You Got to Have a Good Lip” (December 1946, Esquire)
  • “Redheads Won’t Wait” (December 1946, The Shadow, December 1946; as Peter Reed)
  • “I Ain’t So Dumb” (December 1946, The Shadow, December 1946; as Robert Henry)
  • “A Bat in the Hall” (December 1946, The Shadow)
  • “Muddy Gun” (January 1947, Best Stories)
  • “The Hands of an Artist” (January 1947, The Shadow)
  • “The Fixed Smile of Death” (January 1947, The Shadow; as Robert Henry)
  • “The Bright Flash of Vengeance” (January 1947, The Shadow; as Peter Reed)
  • “Eight Dozen Agents.” (January 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “Hole in None” (January 4, 1947, Liberty)
  • “Dead to the World” (February 1947, Dime Detective; aka “No Business for an Amateur”)
  • “Bonded in Death” (February 1947, Doc Savage; as Harry Rieser)
  • “The Deadly Game of Darts” (February 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “The Anonymous Letter” (February-March 1947, The Shadow)
  • “Backlash” (February-March 1947, The Shadow; as Peter Reed)
  • “Nor Iron Bars” (March-April 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “You’ve Got to Be Cold” (April-May 1947, The Shadow; aka “The Night Is Over”)
  • “The Notched Ears” (May 1947, Best Stories)
  • “The Pay-Off” (May 1947, Cosmopolitan)
  • “Suicidal Journey” (June 1947, Dime Detective)
  • “Crooked Circle” (1947, Fight Stories)
  • “The Pendans Box” (July 1947, Bluebook)
  • “They Let Me Live” (July-August 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “To Cut the Cards” (July-August 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “North on the Parkway” (August 1947, Esquire)
  • “Looie Follows Me” (August 1947, Collier’s)
  • “Never Marry Murder” (August-September 1947, The Shadow)
  • “Manhattan Horse Opera” (September 1947, Black Mask; aka “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”)
  • “Design for Dying” (September 1947, Dime Detective)
  • “The Chinese Pit” (September-October 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “Oh, Give Me a Hearse!” (October 1947, Dime Detective; aka “A Place to Live”)
  • “Begin Again” (November 1947, Liberty)
  • “My Mission is Murder” (November 1947, Dime Detective; aka “Death For Sale”)
  • “Or the World Will Die” (November-December 1947, Doc Savage)
  • “Second Visitor” (November-December 1947, Doc Savage; as Peter Reed)
  • “Worse Than Murder” (November-December 1947, Doc Savage; as Henry Rieser)
  • “That Old Grey Train” (November 1947, Super Sports)
  • “What About Alice?” (December 1947, The Sign)
  • “Big John Fights Again” (December 1947, Super Sports)
  • “Punch Your Way Home” (December 1947, Sports Fiction)
  • “Even Up the Odds” (January 1948, Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Come Die with Me!” (January 1948, New Detective)
  • “Even Up the Odds” (January 1948, Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Cosmetics” (February 1948, Astounding Science Fiction)
  • “The Pastel Production Line” (February 1948, Bluebook)
  • “Pickup” (February 1948, Cosmopolitan)
  • “The High Walls of Hate” (February 1948, Dime Detective; aka “The High Gray Walls of Hate”)
  • “With Soul So Dead” (March 1948, Dime Detective)
  • “One Vote for Murder” (March 1948, New Detective)
  • “Her Black Wings” (March 1948, Shock)
  • “High Dive to Oblivion” (April 1948, Dime Detective)
  • “The Corpse Rides at Dawn” (April 1948, Ten-Story Western)
  • “The Spiralled Myth” (April 1948, Spectator Club)
  • “The Mechanical Answer” (May 1948, Astounding Science Fiction)
  • “Death Sleeps Here!” (May 1948, New Detective)
  • “Blood of the Vixen” (May 1948, Shock)
  • “Satan’s Angel” (May 1948, Shock; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “The Cold Trail of Death” (May-June 1948, Doc Savage)
  • “The Tin Suitcase” (May-June 1948, Doc Savage; aka “She Cannot Die”; as by Peter Reed)
  • “Homicidal Hiccup” (June 1948, Detective Tales)
  • “Call Your Murder Signals!” (June 1948, Dime Detective)
  • “Venomous Lady” (July 1948, Shock)
  • “Sepulchre of the Living” (July 1948, Shock)
  • “So Sorry” (July 1948, Sports Fiction)
  • “Cavaliers Make Good Corpses” (August 1948, Dime Detective)
  • “Loser Take All” (August 1948, Sports Novels)
  • “Fatal Accident” (Fall 1948, The Shadow)
  • “The Case of the Carved Model” (September 1948, Black Mask)
  • “Nicky and the Tin Finger” (September 1948, Bluebook)
  • “Red-Headed Bait” (September 1948, Detective Tales)
  • “Scene of the Crime” (September 1948, Detective Tales)
  • “Just a Kill in the Dark” (September 1948, New Detective)
  • “Trial by Fury” (September 1948, New Detective; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “Tune in on Station Homicide” (September 1948, New Detective; aka “A Time For Dying”; as Peter Reed)
  • “Dance of a New World” (September 1948, Astounding Science Fiction)
  • “Runaway Cleats” (September 1948, Sports Novels)
  • “Thunder King” (September 1948, Sports Novels; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “Shenadun” (September 1948, Startling Stories)
  • “Deep Death” (October 1948, Doc Savage)
  • “My Husband Dies Slowly” (October 1948, Dime Detective)
  • “They Never Quit” (October 1948, Sports Fiction)
  • “Death Is the Answer” (October 1948, Thrilling Detective)
  • “That Mess Last Year” (October 1948, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “School for the Stars” (October 1948, Astounding Science Fiction)
  • “Blonde Bait for the Murder Master” (November 1948, Crack Detective Stories)
  • “The Gentle Killer” (November 1948, All Sports)
  • “Glory Blaster” (November 1948, Sports Novels)
  • “Ring Around the Redhead” (November 1948, Startling Stories)
  • “No Grave Has My Love” (December 1948, Dime Detective)
  • “Buzz-Saw Belter” (December 1948, New Sports)
  • “A Child Is Crying” (December 1948, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “When You Got a Pigeon” (December 1948-January 1949, The Shadow)
  • “Murder in Mind” (Winter 1949, Mystery Book)
  • “Hot-Seat on the Aisle” (January 1949, Detective Tales)
  • “Damsels of the Deep” (January 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Take the Bum Out!” (January 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “Three’s a Shroud” (January 1949, New Detective; aka “Verdict”)
  • “Flaw” (January 1949, Startling Stories)
  • “The Great Stone Death” (January 1949, Weird Tales)
  • “Blackmail Breeds Bullets” (February 1949, All-Story Detective)
  • “Killer’s Nest” (February 1949, Detective Tales; aka “Neighbourly Interest”)
  • “A Coffin a Day” (February 1949, FBI Detective)
  • “Fight, Scrub, Fight!” (February 1949, New Sports)
  • “A Corpse in His Dreams” (February 1949, Mystery Book Magazine)
  • “Killing All Men” (March 1949, Black Mask; aka “Deadly Damsel”)
  • “A Corpse in His Dreams” (Spring 1949, Mystery Book Magazine)
  • “Kiss the Corpse Goodbye” (March 1949, Black Mask; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “I’ll Drown You in My Dreams” (March 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Danger — Death Ahead!” (March 1949, New Detective)
  • “Last Chance Cleats” (March 1949, Sports Novels)
  • “A Corpse in His Dreams”) (Spring 1949, Mystery Book)
  • “The Widow Wouldn’t Weep” (April 1949, All-Story Detective)
  • “His Own Funeral” (April 1949, Detective Tales; as John Lane)
  • “The Corpse Belongs to Daddy” (April 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Loot for the Unlucky Lady” (April 1949, FBI Detective)
  • “Death Quotient” (April 1949, Super Science Stories)
  • “All Our Yesterdays” (April 1949, Super Science Stories; as John Wade Farrell)
  • “Delusion Drive” (April 1949, Super Science Stories) (as Peter Reed)
  • “You’ll Never Escape” (May 1949, Dime Detective; aka “State Police Report That…”)
  • “Murder in One Syllable” (May 1949, Black Mask)
  • “You’ll Never Escape” (May 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Get Out of Town” (May 1949, New Detective)
  • “Immortality” (May 1949, Startling Stories)
  • “Somebody Has to Do the Job” (May 14, 1949, Toronto Star Weekly)
  • “But Not to Dream” (May 1949, Weird Tales)
  • “You Remember Jeanie” (May 1949, Crack Detective Stories)
  • “Three Strikes — You’re Dead!” (June 1949, All-Story Detective)
  • “Too Many Sinners” (June 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Make Mine Murder!” (June 1949, FBI Detective)
  • “Like a Keepsake” (June 1949, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “A Corpse-Maker Goes Courting” (July 1949, Dime Detective; aka “Unmarried Widow”)
  • “Heritage of Hate” (July 1949, Black Mask; aka “Secret Stain” and “Triple Cross”)
  • “Death Is a Lap Ahead” (July 1949, Adventure)
  • “Tank-Town Matador” (July 1949, Argosy)
  • “Swing-Time Sucker” (July 1949, Detective Tales)
  • “The Glory Punch” (July 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “Bye, Bye, Backfield” (July 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories; as John Wade Farrell)
  • “The Thunder Road” (July 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories; as Peter Reed)
  • “Blue Water Fury” (July 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories; as Scott O’Hara; aka “The Big Blue”)
  • “The Cold, Cold Ground” (July 1949, New Detective)
  • “The Hunted” (July 1949, Super Science Stories)
  • “Bedside Murder” (Summer 1949, Mystery Book)
  • “Trojan Horse Laugh” (August 1949, Astounding Science Fiction)
  • “Looie Follows Me” (August 27, 1949, Collier’s)
  • “What Makes Sammy Laugh?” (August 1949, Detective Tales)
  • “Amphiskios” (August 1949, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “Poor Little Rich Corpse” (September 1949, Detective Tales)
  • “Murder Run-Around” (September 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Mad About Murder” (September 1949, Dime Detective; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “Six Points to Remember” (September 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “Dead — As in Darling” (September 1949, New Detective, September 1949)
  • “A Condition of Beauty” (September 1949, Startling Stories)
  • “Minion of Chaos” (September 1949, Super Science Stories)
  • “The Miniature” (September 1949, Super Science Stories; as Peter Reed)
  • “Blue Stars for a Dead Lady” (October 1949, Detective Tales)
  • “Target for Tonight” (October 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Last Rendezvous” (October 1949, Dime Mystery)
  • “Warrant for an Old Flame” (October 1949, FBI Detective)
  • “A Young Man of Promise” (November 1949, Argosy)
  • “The Durable Corpse” (November 1949, Dime Detective)
  • “Run the Man Down” (November 1949, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “Hang the Man High!” (November 1949, Fifteen Western Tales)
  • “Half Past Mayhem” (November 1949, New Detective)
  • “Appointment for Tomorrow” (November 1949, Super Science Stories)
  • “The Sleepers” (November 1949, Super Science Stories; as John Wade Farrell)
  • “Love, Inc.” (November 1949, Today’s Woman)
  • “Case of the Burning Blonde” (December 1949, Detective Tales)
  • “Take a Powder, Galahad!” (December 1949, Dime Detective, December 1949)
  • “Nine Coffins for Rocking H” (December 1949, Dime Western, December 1949)
  • “Murder in Mind’ (Winter 1949, Mystery Book Magazine)
  • “Moonlit Sport” (January 1950, The American Magazine)
  • “Swing and Slay” (January 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “Stand Up and Slug!” (January 1950, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “Stop, Look — and Die!” (January 1950, New Detective)
  • “The First One” (January 1950, Startling Stories)
  • “Spin, Devil!” (January 1950, Super Science Stories; as John Wade Farrell)
  • “Spectator Sport” (February 1950, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “The Filly from Philly” (February 25,1950, Toronto Star Weekly)
  • “Man-Stalk” (March 1950, Argosy)
  • “The Judas Chick” (March 1950, Detective Tales)
  • “A Corpse on Me!” (March 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “Fall Guy” (March 1950, New Detective)
  • “A Trap for the Careless” (March 1950, Detective Tales)
  • “The Ultimate One” (March 1950, Super Science Stories)
  • “The Sitting Duck” (April 1950, Detective Tales)
  • “Blood on the Midway” (April 1950, Dime Detective; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “Pigskin Patsy” (April 1950, Fifteen-Story Detective)
  • “The Plunder Five” (April 1950, New Sports)
  • “Journey for Seven” (April 1950, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “Portrait of a Murderess” (Spring 1950, Detective Book Magazine)
  • “Breathe No More, My Lovely” (May 1950, Detective Tales; aka “Breathe No More”)
  • “Night Watch” (May 1950, Detective Tales; aka “Check Out At Dawn”; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “This One Will Kill You” (May 1950, New Detective; aka “Death Writes the Answer”)
  • “The Long, Red Night” (May 1950, Detective Tales; as John Lane)
  • “Yes, Sir, That’s My Slay-Babe!” (May 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “Vanguard of the Lost” (May 1950, Fantastic Adventures)
  • “Money Green” (May 1950, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “This One Will Kill You” (May 1950, New Detective)
  • “Wine of the Dreamers” (May 1950, Startling Stories)
  • “By the Stars Forgot” (May 1950, Super Science Stories)
  • “Gift of Darkness” (May 1950, Super Science Stories; as Peter Reed)
  • “College-Cut Kill” (June1950, Dime Detective; 2001, Pulp Masters)
  • “Sir Lancelot’s Crime Wave” (June 1950, Dime Detective; as Scott O’Hara)
  • “Dead on the Pin” (Summer 1950, Mystery Book Magazine)
  • “Jukebox Jungle” (July 1950, Black Mask)
  • “Run, Sister, Run!” (July 1950, Detective Tales)
  • “Dead Men Don’t Scare” (July 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “Five-Star Fugitive” (July 1950, Dime Detective; as Scott O’Hara; aka “Border Town Girl”)
  • “Half-Past Eternity” (July 1950, Super Science Stories)
  • “Escape to Fear” (July 1950, Super Science Stories; as Peter Reed)
  • “Make One False Move” (August 1950, Argosy)
  • “His Fatal Fling” (August 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “The Lady Is a Corpse!” (September 1950, Detective Tales; aka “From Some Hidden Grave”)
  • “Exit Smiling” (September 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “The Homesick Buick” (September 1950, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
  • “Too Early to Tell” (October 1950, Adventure)
  • “Miranda” (October 1950, Fifteen Mystery Stories)
  • “Shadow on the Sand” (October 1950, Thrilling Wonder Stories)
  • “The Paw of the Cat” (November 1950, Detective Tales)
  • “Tri-Kill Cutie” (November 1950, Dime Detective)
  • “For Murder — or Worse” (November 1950, New Detective)
  • “Final Mission” (November 1950, Planet Stories)
  • “The Big Contest” (December 1950, Worlds Beyond)
  • “Jukebox Jungle” (December 1950, Black Mask)
  • “I Love You (Occasionally)” (December 31,1950, This Week)
  • “Hand From the Void” (January 1951, Super Science Stories)
  • “Death for the Asking” (January 1951, Detective Fiction)
  • “Susceptibility” (January 1951, Galaxy Science Fiction)
  • “Hand from the Void” (January 1951, Super Science Stories)
  • “Destiny Deferred” (January 1951, Super Science Stories; as John Wade Farrell)
  • “Over My Dead Body!” (February 1951, Detective Tales)
  • “The Curse of the `Star'” (February 1951, Short Stories)
  • “Get Thee Behind Me” (March 1951, Detective Fiction)
  • “Case of Nerves” (March 1951, Detective Tales)
  • “The Deadliest Game” (April 1951, Detective Tales)
  • “Death Is My Comrade” (April 1951, New Detective)
  • “Salute to Courage” (April 1951, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “Violence Inherited” (May 1951, Detective Fiction)
  • “Nothing Must Change” (June 1951, Redbook)
  • “Escape to Chaos” (June 1951, Super Science Stories)
  • “Cosmic Knot” (June 1951, Super Science Stories; as Peter Reed)
  • “Path of Glory” (July 1951, Adventure)
  • “Lay Me Down and Die” (July 1951, Detective Fiction)
  • “Common Denominator” (July 1951, Galaxy Science Fiction)
  • “Crime of Omission” (August 1951, Detective Tales)
  • “Death Runs in the Family” (August 1951, Dime Detective)
  • “Dateline — Death” (August 1951, New Detective)
  • “Who Stopped That Clock?” (August 12,1951, This Week)
  • “The White Fruit of Banaldar” (September 1951, Startling Stories)
  • “Big League Busher” (October 1951, Sport Magazine)
  • “Case of the Gorgeous Gams” (October 1951, Detective Tales)
  • “The Cloob from Glasgow” (October 1951, Fifteen Sports Stories)
  • “The Cardboard Star” (December 1951, The American Legion Magazine)
  • “The Girl Who Wanted Money” (December 1951, Dime Detective)
  • “The Man Who Died” (December 1951, Toronto Star Weekly)
  • “Betrayed” (March 1952, The American Magazine; also July 1964, MSMM)
  • “All That Blood Money Can Buy” (April 1952, Detective Tales; aka “Murder For Money”)
  • “Noose For aTigress” (August 1952, Dime Detective)
  • “Hit And Run” (August 1952, Good Housekeeping)
  • “The Man From Limbo” (1952, Dime Detective)
  • “The Innocent Victims” (1953, Bluebook; also 1999, Pure Pulp)
  • “The Trouble With Erica” (September 1953, Cosmopolitan)
  • “I Always Get the Cuties” (November 1954, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)
  • “The Killer” (January 1955, Manhunt)
  • “There Hangs Death!” (June 4, 1955, This Week)
  • “Scared Money” (October 1955, Justice)
  • “Long Shot” (October 1955, Argosy)
  • “The Bear Trap” (May 1955, Cosmopolitan)
  • “Squealer!” (May 1956, Manhunt; aka “Let’s Go Get Them!”)
  • “Hangover” (July 1956, Cosmopolitan)
  • “Linda” (1956, Border Town Girl)
  • “Romantic Courtesy” (July 1957, Cosmopolitan)
  • “Man In a Trap” (1958, EQMM)
  • “Taint of the Tiger” (March 1958, Cosmopolitan)
  • “Black Cat in the Snow” (1958, Manhunt)
  • “The Fast Loose Money” (July 1958, Cosmopolitan)
  • “The Trap of Solid Gold” (April 1960, Ladies Home Journal)
  • “Kitten On A Trampoline” (April 8, 1961, The Saturday Evening Post)
  • “Sing A Song Of Terror” (September 9, 1961, The Saturday Evening Post; aka “To Stay Alive”)
  • “Hit And Run” (September 16, 1961, The Saturday Evening Post)
    Not a reprint of the story “Hit And Run” from the August 1952 issue of Good Housekeeping but an almost completely different story.
  • “The Obvious Woman” (March 30, 1963, The Saturday Evening Post)
  • “End of the Tiger” (October 20, 1963, This Week)
  • “The Straw Witch” (January 12, 1964, This Week)
  • “Blurred View” (February 23, 1964, This Week)
  • “The Loveliest Girl in the World” (March 15, 1964, This Week)
  • “The Legend of Joe Lee” (October 1964, Cosmopolitan)
  • “Funny Man” (May 21, 1966, The Saturday Evening Post; aka “Afternoon of the Hero”)
  • “Quarrel” (May 1967, Playboy)
  • “The Annex” (May 1968, Playboy)
  • “Dear Old Friend” (April 1970, Playboy)
  • “Double Hannenframmis” (August 1970, Playboy)
  • “The Random Noise of Love” (1971, S*E*V*E*N)
  • “The Willow Pool” (1971, S*E*V*E*N)
  • “Woodchuck”  (1971, S*E*V*E*N)
  • “Wedding Present” (1977, Antaeus)
  • “Finding Anne Farley” (May 1977, The Field Newspaper Syndicate; aka “Ring My love with Diamonds”; Oliver “Duke” Rhoades)
    Serialized five-parter ran in numerous newspapers.
  • “Terminal Cases” (October 3, 1977, New York Magazine; Travis McGee)
    Not really a short story (it only runs 2000 words), but a freewheeling rant between Meyer and McGeeon, among other things, mortality, guns, junk food, over-population and television.
  • Sold, but possibly not published (according to The Trap of Solid Gold)
  • “Big League Busher” (Sports story sold to Popular Publications in 1951)
  • “Crooked Circle” (Sports story sold to Fiction House in 1947)
  • “The Gentle Killer” (Mystery story sold to Columbia Publications in 1947)
  • “Identification” (Sold to Author’s Guild Bulletin in 1952)
  • “Spell for a Princess” (details unknown)
  • “Successful Season” (Sports story sold to Popular Publications in 1948)
  • “That Old Grey Train” (Sports story sold to Columbia Publications in 1947)
  • “Death of a Dealer” (Sold to This Week Magazine in 1956)

COLLECTIONS

  • Border Town Girl (1956)
    Includes the title story and “Linda,” an original novella.
  • End of the Tiger and Other Stories (1966)
  • S*E*V*E*N (1971)
  • Other Times, Other Worlds (1978)
  • The Good Old Stuff (1982)
  • More Good Old Stuff (1984)

NOVELS

NON-FICTION

  • “Professionally Yours,” (1950 Writer’s Yearbook)
    A how-to for writers.
  • I Could Go On Singing (1963)
  • The House Guests (1965)
  • No Deadly Drug (1968)
  • A Friendship: The Letters of Dan Rowan and John D. MacDonald 1967-1974 (1986)
  • Reading for Survival (1987; Travis McGee) | Buy this book
    Sometimes referred to as “the 22nd McGee,” but this is not really a novel — it’s a monograph on the importance of reading, dressed up as yet another discussion between Meyer and McGee.

AS EDITOR

  • The Lethal Sex (1959)Buy this book | Kindle it!
    In 1959, MacDonald was asked to edit one of the Mystery Writer’s of America annual collections of short stories. His dedication reads “

    To all those unsung heroes of modern letters, those harassed, unraveled, ink-stained wretches, the professional editors. At last I understand their problems” and in his introduction he confesses that “This is the first editing chore I have ever done. The way I feel at the moment, it will be the last.” It was. 

FILMS

  • MAN-TRAP
    (aka “Deadlock,” “Restless”)
    (1961)
    Black and white
    93 minutes
    Based on the story “Taint of the Tiger” by John D. MacDonald
    Screenplay by Ed Waters
    Directed by Edmond O’Brien
    Starring Jeffrey Hunter, David Janssen, Stella Stevens, Elaine Devry, Arthur Batanides, Perry Lopez, Bernard Fein, Virginia Gregg, Mike Vandever, Hugh Sanders, Tol Avery, Bob Crane
    Two Korean War vets team up to rip off some central American revolutionaries. Rare directing job by actor O’Brien.
  • CAPE FEAR|Buy this video |Buy this DVD |Buy this Blu-Ray
    (1962)
    Black and white
    105 minutes
    Based on the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald
    Screenplay by James R. Webb
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson
    Starring Gregory Peck, Polly Bergen, Robert Mitchum, Martin Balsam, Lori Martin, Jack Kruschen, Telly Savalas
    Mitchum, in arguably his strongest performance ever, is evil incarnate here, positively repitilian, as an ex-con bent on revenge. Peck wrings his hands a lot.
  • DARKER THAN AMBER Buy this video | Buy the DVD
    Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald
    Directed by
    Starring Rod Talor as TRAVIS McGEE
  • CAPE FEAR|Buy this video |Buy this DVD |Buy this Blu-Ray
    (1991, Universal)
    Based on the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald
    Screenplay by Wesley Strick
    Directed by Martin Scorsese
    Starring Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, Illeana Douglas, Fred Dalton Thompson
    Cameos by Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Martin Balsam
    A big bucks remake of the 1962 original, full of special effects and envelope pushing. Powerful film-making, for sure, but as great as DeNiro can be, in this one he just ain’t no Mitchum.

TELEVISION

  • LIGHTS OUT
    (1949-52, NBC)
    Mystery/crime anthology series
    158 30-minute episodes

    • “A Child Is Crying” (June 19, 1950)
      Based on the 1948 short story by John D. MacDonald
      Teleplay by Ernest Kinoy
      Starring David Cole, Leslie Nielsen, Frank M. Thomas
      The first adaptation of a JDM story; a sci-fi tale originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories and now regarded by some as a “minor classic.”
  • OUT THERE
    (1951-52, CBS)
    Sci-fi anthology series
    12 30-minute episodes

    • “Susceptibility” (November 25, 1951)
      Based on the 1948 story by John D. MacDonald
      Teleplay by David Shaw
      Starring Bethel Leslie, Leslie Nielsen, Joe Silver
      What? Nielsen again?
  • TALES OF TOMORROW
    (1951-53, ABC)
    Sci-fi anthology series
    84 30-minute episod

    • “A Child Is Crying” (August 17, 1951)
      Based on the 1948 story by “John MacDonald”
      Teleplay by Alvin Sapinsley
      Directed by Don Medford
      Starring Bert Lytell, Robin Morgan, Donald McClelland
      Somebody must have liked this story. Not only had it already been produced for Lights Out the previous year, but Tales of Tomorrow would produce it twice, with different casts This is the first one.
    • “A Child Is Crying” (August 15, 1952)
      Based on a story by “John MacDonald”
      Teleplay by Alvin Sapinsley
      Directed by Don Medford
      Starring Walter Abel, Peggy Allenby, Shirley Egleston
      The second adaptation for Lights Out, and third television adaptation in two years.
  • CLIMAX!
    (1954-58, CBS)
    Drama anthology series

    • “South of the Sun” (March 3, 1955)
      Based on The Damned by John D. MacDonald
      Directed by John Frankenheimer
      Now we’re talking. The first — as far as I know — of JDM’s crime fiction to be produced for the boob tube.
  • THE STAR AND THE STORY
    (1955-56, DuMont/syndicated)
    Host: Henry Fonda

    • “First Offense” (March 26, 1955)
      Based on a story by John D. MacDonald
      Teleplay by Frederick Brady
      Directed by Lewis R. Foster
      Starring Howard Duff, Maxine Cooper
  • SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE
    (1951-59, CBS)

    • “Who’s the Blonde?” (April 22, 1955)
      Based on an original story by John D. MacDonald
      Teleplay by John Patrick
      Directed by Jus Addiss
      Starring Alexander Campbell, Thom Conroy, Maxine Cooper
  • CHEVRON HALL OF STARS
    (1956, syndicated)
    36 30-minute episodes
    Produced by Four Star Productions

    • “In a Small Motel” (May 4, 1956)
      Based on a story by John D. MacDonald
      Starring Marilyn Erskine, Adam Kennedy, Gordon Mills
  • STUDIO ONE IN HOLLYWOOD
    (1948-58, CBS)
    Anthology series
    467 60-minute episodes

    • “First Prize for Murder” (September 16, 1957)
      Based on a story by John D. MacDonald
      Starring Philip Coolidge, Colleen Dewhurst, Betty Furness
  • STUDIO 57
    (1954-58 Dumont/syndicated)
    Anthology series
    124 30-minute episodes
    Originally broadcast on the Dumont network as “Heinz Studio 57,” this anthology series went into syndication when Dumont ceased production.

    • “Getaway Car” (March 29, 1958)
      Based on the short story “The Homesick Buick” by John D. MacDonald
      Starring Mike Connors, John McIntire, Wallace Ford
  • THRILLER
    (1960-62, CBS)
    Anthology series
    67 60-minute episodes
    Host: Boris Karloff

    • “The Fatal Impulse” (November 29, 1960)
      Based on a story by John D. MacDonald
      Teleplay by Philip MacDonald
      Directed by Gerald Mayer
      Starring Robert Lansing, Whitney Blake, Conrad Nagel, Elisha Cook Jr., Mary Tyler Moore
      Elisha Cook Jr. has a small bit as a killer attempting to flee a botched assassination who slips a small bomb into the bag of a woman in an office building elevator. The police try to find her before the bomb goes off.
  • THE BROTHERS BRANNIGAN
    (1960, U.S. Syndicated)
    Black and White
    39 30-minute episodes
    Created by Wilbur Stark and Jerry Layton
    Produced by Wilbur Stark and Jerry Layton
    Starring Steve Dunne and Mark Roberts
    A syndicated variation on the Warner Bros. 77 Sunset Strip formula.

    • “Wheel of Fortune” (March 25, 1961)
      Story by Malcolm Stewart Boylan
      Teleplay by John D. MacDonald
      Seems to me it would be the other way around, with MacDonald having been responsible for the original story, not the teleplay. The IMDB isn’t always correct.
  • THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR
    (1962-65, NBC)

    • “Hangover” (December 6, 1962)
      Based on short stories by John D. MacDonald and Charlers Runyon
      Teleplay by Lou Rambeau
      Directed by Bernard Girard
      Starring Tony Randall, Jayne Mansfield, Robert Lieb
  • KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATRE
    (1963-65, NBC)
    Anthology series
    Story editor: Anthony Boucher

    • “The Deep End” (January 2, 1964)
      Based on the novel The Drowner by John D. MacDonald
      Adapted by Jonathan Hughes
      Starring Clu Gulager as DAN WALSH (Paul Stanial in the book)
      Also starring Ellen Burstyn (billed as Ellen McRae), Aldo Ray, , Tina Lousie
  • ABC STAGE 67
    (1966-67, ABC)
    Anthology series

    • “The Trap of Solid Gold” (January 4, 1967)
      Based on the short story by John D. MacDonald
      Adapted by Ellen M. Voilett
      Starring Cliff Robertson, Dina Merrill, John Baragrey, Dustin Hoffman, Bernard Hughes
  • RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
    (1965-68)
    Dramatic series
    Starring Ben Gazzara

    • Cry Hard, Cry Fast (Part One)” (November 20, 1967)”
      “Cry Hard, Cry Fast (Part Two)” (November 27, 1967)
      Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald
      Adapted by Luther Davis, John D. MacDonald and Robert Hamner.
      Starring Ben Gazzara, Jack Albertson, James Farentino, Charles Aidman, Diana Muldaur and Joan Van Ark.”
      A two-parter adapted from MacDonald’s novel of the same title. Despite being billed as one of the contributors to the teleplay, MacDonald claimed he had “never had anything to do with it once (he) signed the contract.
  • KONA COAST
    (1968, CBS)
    93 minutes
    Based on the story “Bimini Gal” by John D. MacDonald
    Screenplay by Gilbert Ralston
    Directed by Lamont Johnson
    Produced by Lamont Johnson
    Original music by Jack Marshall
    Cinematography by Joseph LaShelle
    Produced by Warner Brothers/Seven Arts
    Starring Richard Boone, Vera Miles, Joan Blondell, Steve Ihnat, Chips Rafferty, Kent Smith, Sam Kapu Jr., Gina Villines, Duane Eddy, Scott Thomas, Erwin Neal, Doris Erikson, ‘Lucky’ Luck
    A stinky cheeseman of a made-for-TV movie, starring a rather haggard Richard Boone as a proto-type McGee. Capt. Sam Moran (Boone) is a Hawaiian fishing boat skipper and beach bum who never seems to go fishing, instead going on the hunt for the killers of a young girl who died of a heroin overdose. Consider her lucky — at least she got out of this catastrophe early. Possibly intended as a theatrical release, it was eventially released as a pilot on CBS, but even MacDonald wasn’t impressed. “The few people who have seen that pilot on the tube — in random places, usually very late at night — have thrown up.”
  • ABC SUSPENSE MOVIE OF THE WEEK: LINDA
    (1973, ABC)
    Television movie
    Based on a story by John D. MacDonald
    Teleplay by Merwin Gerard
    Directed by Jack Smight
    Produced by William Frye
    Cinematography by Leonard J. South
    Original music by John Cacavas
    Starring Stella Stevens, Ed Nelson, John McIntire, John Saxon, Ford Rainey, Joyce Cunning, Ross Elliott, John Fink, Alan Fudge, Gary Morgan, Mary-Robin Redd, Barbara Sammeth
    A woman kills her lover’s wife, then sets out to frame her husband for the murder.
  • THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH AND EVERYTHING
    (1980, Paramount)
    Television movie
    June 13, 1980
    Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald
    Teleplay by George Zateslo
    Directed by William Wiard
    Cinematography by Jacques Haitkin
    Produced by Myrl A. Schreibman
    Executive producers: Arthur Fellows, Terry Keegan
    Original music by Hod David Schudson
    Starring Robert Hays, Pam Dawber, Zohra Lampert, Ed Nelson, Maurice Evans, Peter Brown, Macdonald Carey, Burton Gilliam, Jill Ireland
    Innocuous adaption of JDM’s engaging fantasy about a young man who inherits a pocket watch with a pretty unusual feature. Nowhere near as fun as the book.
  • CONDOMINIUM
    (1980)
    Television movie
    Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald
    Directed by Sidney Hayers
    Produced by Gino Grimaldi
    Starring Barbara Eden, Steve Forrest, Ana Alicia, Richard Anderson, Ralph Bellamy, Macdonald Carey, Dane Clark, Linda Cristal, Elinor Donahue, Dan Haggerty, Pamela Hensley, Arte Johnson, Jack Jones, Dorothy Malone, Mimi Maynard, Stuart Whitman
    Here comes the story of the hurricane. And the tidal wave. And a Love Boat-sized cast of “very special” guest stars. A big, slick, cheesy melodrama, made for TV, featuring a big, shiny condo built right on the Florida beach, full of the usual MacDonald miscreants, versus Mother Nature. Cheer for the water.
  • THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH AND DYNAMITE
    (1981, Paramount)
    Television movie
    May 21, 1981
    Based on characters created by John D. MacDonald
    Teleplay by George Zateslo
    Directed by Hy Averback
    Starring Lee Purcell, Philip MacHale, Burton Gilliam, Jack Elam, Tom Poston, Larry Linville, Motgan Fairchild, Gene Barry
    Robert Hayes and Pam Dawber are out, and Philip MacHale and Lee Purcell are in as the star-crossed lovers, in this sequel of sorts to The Girl, The Goldwatch and Everything.
  • THE EMPTY COPPER SEA
    (aka “Travis McGee: The Empty Copper Sea”)

    (1983)
    Television movie
    May 18, 1983
    Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald
    Directed by Andrew V. McLaglin
    Starring Sam Elliot as TRAVIS McGEE
    Bad, bad, very bad. And for some reason Florida has become California. A failed pilot, for which we can all give thanks.
  • AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE
    (1981-2001, PBS)
    A long running antholgy series presented original dramatic films and mini-series (such as Amistad Maupin’s acclaimed Tales of the City) also presented this sterling adaptation of MacDonald’s A Flash of Green.

    • “A Flash of Green” (April 21, 1986)
      131 minutes
      Based on the novel by John D. MacDonald
      Screenplay by Victor Nunez
      Directed by Victor Nunez
      Starring Ed Harris, Blair Brown, Richard Jordan, George Coe, Helen Stenborg, John Glover
      One of the best JDM adaptations ever, this one captured all the subtle intelligence and deft characterization of MacDonald’s best novels, and didn’t shy away from his larger themes. And Harris, Brown and Jordan deliver some of their very finest performances.
  • TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE
    (1983-88, syndicated)
    92 30-minute episodes
    Created by George A. Romero
    This Twilight Zone wannabe anthology from the eighties offered creepy spooky tales — with a twist.

    • “Ring Around the Redhead” (October 13, 1985)
      Based on the 1948 short story by John D. MacDonald
      Teleplay by Theodore Gershuny
      Directed by Ted Gershuny
      Starring John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, Caris Corfman
  • LINDA | Buy this video
    (aka “Lust for Murder”)
    (1993, USA Network)
    90 minutes
    Original airdate: October 8, 1993
    Based on a story by John D. MacDonald
    Teleplay by N.D. Schreiner
    Directed by Nathaniel Gutman
    Cinematography by Bryan England
    Produced by Bob Roe
    Original music by David Michael Frank
    Starring Virginia Madsen, Ted McGinley, Richard Thomas, Laura Harrington, David Dwyer, J. Don Ferguson, T.E. Russell, Paul Cowley
    Two couples, long-time friends, decide to go away together. But things soon head south when Madsen and McKinley spend far to much time together instead of with their respective spouses. Generally consiodered the better of the two adaptations.

REFERENCE

  • Campbell, Frank D.,
    John D. MacDonald and the Colorful World of Travis McGee
    San Bernardino: Borgo Press, 1977.
  • A Bibliography of the Published Works of John D. MacDonald
    Shine, Jean and Walter, Gainesville: University of Florida Libraries, 1980.
    Manuscript collection at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.
  • Geherin, David,
    John D. MacDonald | Buy this book
    New York: Ungar, 1982.
  • Hirshberg, Edgar W.,
    John D. MacDonald
    Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.
  • Moore, Lewis D.,
    Meditations on America: John D. Macdonald’s Travis McGee Series and Other Fiction | Buy this book
    Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1994.
    An exploration of the McGee series, with “special emphasis on MacDonald’s examination of the conflicts and joys of twentieth-century American culture and society.”
  • Merril, Hugh
    The Red Hot Typewriter | Buy this book
    New York: St. Martin’s/Minotaur, 2000.
    Another biography of the late, great John D. MacDonald. Currently the most comprehensive yet.

RELATED LINKS

  • John D. MacDonald’s Mission to Save Florida
    Discovering an iconic author—and his love of nature. By 
    Craig Pittman  (April 2019, CrimeReads)
  • The Trap of Solid Gold
    Long-time MacDonald fan Steve Scott (he assisted Walter and Jean Shine on their second edition of their definitive MacDonald bibliography) has created a truly great blog, featuring in-depth analysis of all all the novels and many of the short stories, plus a great selection of the author’s views on writing and other authors.
  • The Travis McGee Series by John D. MacDonald
    Another fan site, and a lot of fun. As well as the book-by-book breakdown, and a collection of quotes, there’s also a selection of Boat Bum Cuisine, complete with recipes for such treats as Meyer’s Memorable Chili and McGee’s Special Martini.
  • Sometimes I Wish I Lived on a Houseboat
    Tom Dooley’s personable, personal essay on why he wants to be Travis McGee (like, don’t we all?). It serves as a perfect intro to the beloved beach bum PI.  There’s an outline of the character and an enlightening passage from Free Fall in Crimson.
  • The John D. MacDonald Web Site
    Cal Branche’s continuously updated labour of love brags has resulted in a †ery comprehensive website on the author. There aresome intriguing bits of info, including the scoop on A Black Border For McGee,and a lot of photos.
  • McGee’s Little Black Book
    Let’s face it — the dude got around.
  • The Children of Travis McGee
    The Literary Descendants of Our Man Trav.
  • Hey, This McGee guy sounds interesting. Anyone read him?
    An ad from the June 1964 issue of Cavalier.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, Quatermass and Jack Flora.

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