RARA-AVIS: Re:Celestri on Dick Lochte's article on Hammett in Salon

From: Keith Alan Deutsch ( keithdeutsch@earthlink.net)
Date: 18 Apr 2000


> ...I enjoyed Dick Lochte's Salon article on Hammett very much. I never heard
> the connection between Dash & Lillian and Nick & Nora before. I knew Hammett
> had one of the severest cases of writer's block imaginable, but I didn't
> realize it was (in part) connected to his relationship with Lillian....
> Dear John & Cathie,
> According to Prudence Whitfield, Raoul's second wife, after hookng up with
> Hellman, Hammett spent more energy on her writing than on his. Whitfield was
> one of Hammett's oldest friends, dating back to before Hammett published
> anything when Whitfield was already a famous Black Mask writer, both
> detective stories, and the first airplane pilot adventures in the pulps
> (later a genre in itself).
> Prudence told me that when she, Whitfield, Hammett and Hellman went to a
> viewing of Hellman's great success, the play "Watch on the Rhine,"
> Whitfield--much to Hammett's and Hellman's discomfort--would nudge her again
> and again, loudly whispering "That's Dash's line."
> Of course I have no way of knowing that this story is true, but it is well
> documented that Hammett mentored Hellman as a writer. For whatever reasons,
> Hellman disliked most of Hammett's Black Mask writing, except for the
> novels. She also disliked Hammett's association with Black Mask, the pulps,
> and pulp writers. Prudence told me that Whitfield told her that Hellman was
> snotty, wanted mainstream literary reputations for Dash and herself, and
> looked down on pulpsters.
> But she was stuck with Whitfield.
> In 1972-1974 I was in correspondence with Hellman through her agent Don
> Congdon. (By the way, according to posts on fictionmags list, Congdon is
> still alive and agenting for Henry Kuttner's estate.) At this time Hellman
> was getting a new collection of Hammett's pulp fiction stories together, and
> I was doing research in the Black Mask library at Popular Publications in
> preparation to produce a newsstand Black Mask Magazine.

> Hellman had mellowed, somewhat. She was very nice to me. Gave me the right
> to publish "Women, Politics& Murder," a rarely republished classic Black Mask
> tale--and asked for no money. Congdon wrote me the story was in thanks for
> info re Hammett's work in Black Mask I gave her from my research in the then
> intact Popular files.
> My phone has been out of order since last Friday, so I haven't read the Dick
> Lochte's "Salon Article" yet. I'm looking forward--hope I haven't "redunded"
> Dick.
> Keith
> keithdeutsch@earthlink.net

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