RARA-AVIS: Re: Orrie Hitt

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 28 Feb 2007

Thanks, Juri, for responding to Mark's question about Orrie Hitt. I would have myself but work has been hectic this week.

Ah, Orrie Hitt. How many young men in the 1950s and 1960s poured over the Orrie Hitt novels published by Beacon and Midwood with titles like DORMITORY GIRLS? I went on line and found a Orrie Hitt novel titled THE SUCKER. The back cover blurb had the headline "One Damn Girl After Another." In this day of explicit sexual content on television, it is hard to imagine the time when this sort of thing was borderline legal. On that back cover there is the wonderful rundown of the women the hero knew including one with whom he "...conspired by day and perspired by night." My goodness, the writer who came up with that should have been carried out of the room on the shoulder of his or her peers.

For years I assumed that Orrie Hitt was a "house name" as it seemed unlikely that any writer could be that prolific. Few writers put their real names on Beacon or Midwood paperbacks. Michael Avallone was one exception. Mike came up with the best soft porn title THE CUNNING LINGUIST but he did use his Troy Conway name for that one.

So years ago I was surprised to learn that Orrie Hitt was a real person. But the real shocker was the source of the information the late Ellen Nehr, who celebrated the cozy mystery and seemed to have a special love for mysteries by women with three names--Phoebe Atwood Taylor was a particular favorite. She was the first fan guest of honor at the Malice Domestic convention and they've named an award after her.

So it was with some considerable shock in a Bouchercon party many years ago (so many that it was filled with cigarette smoke and people were drinking alcoholic beverages)that I heard Ellen say "I've been talking to the family of Orrie Hitt."

I should not have been that surprised because Ellen was a wonderful researcher and if she couldn't do the work she could browbeat someone else into doing it. Abou the same time, she had me in the Alexandria, Virginia tracing the woman who wrote several wondefful mysteries under the name Francis Bonnamy.

And back in the day when no one gave a damn about mystery writers and paperback writers she was tracking them down and interviewing them and writing about them--see the early issues of Ed Gorman's "Mystery Scene" or Ellen's award winning book on the Doubleday Crime Club series.

So with a tip of my hat to the memory of my dear late friend Ellen Nehr, I must report that Orrie Edwin Hitt (1916-1975) did not consider himself a paperback hack and was quite proud of his writing career. I do appreciate and understand the basis of Juri's opinion.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Juri Nummelin"
<juri.nummelin@...> wrote:
> Orrie Hitt was a paperback hack, writing dozens (if not hundreds) of
> sex novels set usually in the backwoods. He wrote, I think, from the
> fourties to the sixties. He's dealt with in Lee Server's history of
> paperbacks.
> Juri

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