RARA-AVIS: Roy Huggines Dies

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 07 Apr 2002

There is an obit in the April 7th Washington Post for Roy Huggins, author of the Chandlerish novel from 1946 THE DOUBLE TAKE, featuring private eye Stuart Bailey.

Huggins had his greatest success in television creating "Maverick,"
"Cheyenne," "The Fugitive," "Run For Your Life," and with Stephen J. Channell
"The Rockford Files." He also created "77 Sunset Strip," featuring Stuart Bailey, which launched a wave of TV private eye programs.

Yesterday when discussing the death of Henry Slesar, I mentioned having read one of his short stories on the day his obit appeared. I can now say that I was reading Roy Huggins on the day his appeared.

I have a complete run (minus one issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine) and last week I picked up the April 1964 issue because it featured a short novel by Roy Huggins "Death and the Skylark," which featured Stuart Bailey. I read it and enjoyed it a great deal. As I was carrying the issue with me and had several long waits, I read the Slesar story in the same issue as well as stories by others. Having enjoyed the Huggins story (reprinted from a 1952 Esquire), I pulled out his novel THE DOUBLE TAKE, which I have long owned but never read. That is what I am reading now and it is superb. He was a good friend of Howard Browne and helped Browne enter the Hollywood world. I wish there was an alternative universe I could tap where all the Browne and Huggins novels appeared that never were written because of the Hollywood assignments.

Aside from Huggins and Slesar, the other stories I read from the April 1964 issue are by writers already dead with one possible exception. There was a wonderful story by Avram Davidson ("The Cobblestones of Saratoga Street"), an okay new story by William Irish--Cornell Woolrich ("Steps...Coming Near"), and a good tale by David Alexander ("One Drink Can Kill You"). All of those are dead. The one I do not know about is Robert Twohy. His story in this issue ("Routine Investigation") was compared by the editor (Fred Dannay) to the theater of the absurd. It is a delightfully surreal story. To my knowledge, Twohy never published a novel or a collection of short stories. If someone knows of one, please tell me for he was an excellent writer of short stories for the digest magazines for several decades. I think he debuted in the 1950s, certainly no later than the early 1960s and I remember stories by him into the 1980s. He was a very fine writer and deserves to be remembered.
 I hope he is still alive. I hope I don't read his obit in tomorrow's newspaper.

That April 1964 issue of EQ also included a reprint of David Ely's Edgar winning short story "The Sailing Club" as well as new stories by Hugh Pentecost, James Holding and M.F.K. Fisher. The book review section by Anthony Boucher gave one of his very rare five stars to THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD ("...the best serieous novel of espionage...in a good two decades.") and four stars to GIDEON'S VOTE by J.J. Marric (Creasy), and to THE CHILL by Ross Macdonald ("The foremost living writer of the private-eye story in another firm and full-fleshed novel of character and detection.")

That issue was a bargain for 50 cents even in 1964 cents.

Back to Huggins: both through his early fiction and his lengthy television career, he had a tremendous impact. He died in Santa Monica on April 3rd.

Richard Moore

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