Steve Fisher (writer)

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Steve Fisher
Born(1912-08-29)August 29, 1912
DiedMarch 27, 1980(1980-03-27) (aged 67)
Other namesGrant Lane
Stephen Gould
OccupationAuthor of pulp stories, novels, and screenplays
Years active1930–1980

Stephen Gould Fisher (August 29, 1912 – March 27, 1980) was an American author best known for his pulp stories, novels and screenplays. He is one of the few pulp authors to go on to enjoy success as both an author in "slick" magazines, such as the Saturday Evening Post , and as an in-demand writer in Hollywood.


Early life

Steve Fisher was born August 29, 1912, in Marine City, Michigan. He was raised in Los Angeles, California, where he attended Oneonta Military Academy until running away to join the Navy at the age of sixteen. [1] Fisher spent four years in the Navy submarine service, during which time he wrote prolifically, selling stories to U.S. Navy and Our Navy. [2]

After Fisher's discharge from the Navy, he settled in Greenwich Village, New York, where he decided to pursue writing as a career. The first few months proved difficult. Fisher could not sell a story and suffered eviction from two apartments, and once had his electricity shut off. [3] In March 1934, however, he would publish his first story, "Hell’s Scoop," in Sure-Fire Detective Magazine, beginning a career of considerable literary success.[ citation needed ]

Pulp years

Fisher's "Mistress Death" was the cover story on the May-June 1936 issue of New Mystery Adventures New mystery adventures 193505-06.jpg
Fisher's "Mistress Death" was the cover story on the May–June 1936 issue of New Mystery Adventures

Fisher published extensively in pulps throughout the 1930s, ‘40s and into the ‘50s. Magazines that featured his stories include Spicy Mystery Stories, Thrilling Detective, True Gang Life, Detective Fiction Weekly, The Shadow , New Mystery Adventures, Underground Detective, The Mysterious Fu Wang, The Phantom Detective , Ace Detective, Saucy Romantic Adventures, Mystery Adventure, Detective Tales, The Whisperer, Headquarters Detective, Hardboiled, Doc Savage , Feds, Federal Agent, Popular Detective, Clues, Detective Romances, Crime Busters, Pocket Detective and Detective Story Magazine . [1]

Some of Fisher’s most significant stories, however, would be published in Black Mask , the seminal detective magazine. Famous Mask editor Joe Shaw rejected early submissions by Fisher, but under the editorship of Fanny Ellsworth, Fisher would help create a more emotional, psychological crime story, different from his hard-boiled Mask predecessors. Fisher stated, "[My] subjective style, mood and approach to a story was the antithesis of [a] Roger Torrey who, like Hammett, wrote objectively, with crisp, cold precision". [4] "The more emotionally charged style caught on and was featured in a number of detective pulps," helping to establish a place for similar authors, such as Fisher's friend Cornell Woolrich. [5] In total Fisher would publish nine stories in Black Mask: "Death of a Dummy," "Flight to Paris," "Hollywood Party," "Jake and Jill," "Latitude Unknown," "Murder at Eight," "No Gentleman Strangles His Wife," "Wait for Me," "You’ll Always Remember Me,". [6]

Fisher would also break into slick magazines during this period, a rare feat for a pulp writer. His stories saw simultaneous publication in pulps and in slicks such as Liberty , Collier's , The Saturday Evening Post , Cosmopolitan and American Magazine to name a few. [7] He would also publish under the pennames Stephen Gould and Grant Lane, and would go on to publish hundreds of stories in pulp and slick magazines [8] including Lt. Commander Sheridan Doome detective novels.

Later life

Struggling financially, Fisher moved to Paris in 1939 to work and live more affordably. After only six months, his agent, H. N. Swanson, sold the stories "If You Break My Heart" and "Shore Leave" to Hollywood for film adaptation. [9] Fisher returned to Hollywood where he would work for much of the remainder of his life as a screenwriter. Fisher wrote the screenplays for such notable films noir as Dead Reckoning and Lady in the Lake . He would also spend time writing novels, most notably I Wake Up Screaming, which was made into a film by the same name starring Victor Mature. During the 1970s, Fisher experienced great success writing for television, including such shows as Starsky & Hutch , McMillan & Wife and Barnaby Jones . [10] He died of a heart attack on March 27, 1980, at his home in Canoga Park, Los Angeles, age 67. [11] [12]

Selected bibliography

Selected filmography

Selected TV series

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 Restaino, p. 143.
  2. Gruber, p. 56.
  3. Gruber, pp. 57–58.
  4. Nolan, p. 31.
  5. Server, p. 76.
  6. Hagemann, pp. 98–99.
  7. Restaino, p. 144.
  8. Penzler, Black Mask , p. 914.
  9. Restaino, p. 147.
  10. Penzler, Pulps, p. 471.
  11. Restaino, p. 148.
  12. "Veteran Film and Adventure Writer" (Fisher obit). Los Angeles Times , March 31, 1980.