Nick Carter (literary character)

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for the radio program, see Nick Carter, Master Detective
Nickcarter0436.jpg

Nick Carter is a fictional character who began as a pulp fiction private detective in 1886 and has appeared in a variety of formats over more than a century.

Literary history[edit]

Nick Carter first appeared in a dime novel entitled The Old Detective's Pupil; or, The Mysterious Crime of Madison Square on 18 September 1886.[1] This novel was written by John R. Coryell from a story by Ormond G. Smith, the son of one of the founders of Street & Smith.[1] The character proved popular enough to headline his own magazine, Nick Carter Weekly. By 1915, Nick Carter Weekly had ceased publication and Street & Smith had replaced it with Detective Story Magazine, which focused on a more varied cast of characters. In the 1930s, due to the success of The Shadow and Doc Savage, Street & Smith revived Nick Carter in a Pulp magazine (called Nick Carter Detective Magazine) that ran from 1933 to 1936. Novels featuring Carter continued to appear through the 1950s, by which time there was also a popular radio show, Nick Carter, Master Detective, which aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System network from 1943 to 1955

Killmaster revival[edit]

Main article: Nick Carter-Killmaster

Following the success of the James Bond series in the 1960s, the character was updated for a long-running series of novels featuring the adventures of secret agent Nick Carter, aka the Killmaster. The first book, Run Spy Run, appeared in 1964 and more than 260 Nick Carter-Killmaster adventures were published up until 1990. (Two additional books have been erroneously listed as Killmaster novels by some sources: Meteor Eject!, a memoir by an RAF pilot named Nick Carter published in 2000, and a 2005 release entitled Brotherhood which is an autobiography written by singer Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.) The 100th Killmaster novel (appropriately entitled Nick Carter 100) contained an essay on the 1890s version and included a short story featuring the character. It marked one of the few times the Killmaster series acknowledged its historical roots.

None of the Nick Carter series of books carried author credits, although it is known that several of the earliest volumes were written by Michael Avallone, while Valerie Moolman and NYT bestselling author Gayle Lynds wrote others, making this the first series of its kind to be (significantly) written by women. Bill Crider is another author identified with Nick Carter.[2]

The Nick Carter name was treated as a pseudonym, and many of the volumes were written in first person.[3]

Authors[edit]

Films[edit]

The character has had a long and varied film history, with three countries producing films based on the character.

France[edit]

Éclair[edit]

In 1908 the French film company Éclair engaged Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset to make a serial film based on the Nick Carter novels which were then being published in France by the German publisher Eichler. Nick Carter, le roi des détectives, with Pierre Bressol in the title-role, was released in six episodes in late 1908, and enjoyed considerable success. Further adaptations followed with Nouveaux aventures de Nick Carter in 1909, and the character was revived for a confrontation with a master-criminal in Zigomar contre Nick Carter in 1912.[7]

1960s[edit]

American actor Eddie Constantine played the title roles in the French-made spy films Nick Carter va tout casser (1964) and Nick Carter et le trèfle rouge (1965). In one curiously circular and self-referential scene, Constantine as Carter enters a house where he finds a large collection of Nick Carter pulp magazines and other Nick Carter memorabilia. Both films are unconnected to the Killmaster book series.

Hollywood[edit]

MGM[edit]

The actor Walter Pidgeon portrayed the detective Nick Carter in a trilogy of films released by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer company. Though MGM purchased the rights to a large number of Nick Carter stories, the films used original screenplays.[8]

In the 1944 movie The Thin Man Goes Home, the detective character Nick Charles (William Powell) is seen reading a Nick Carter Detective magazine while relaxing in a hammock.

Columbia[edit]

Columbia could not afford the rights to produce a Nick Carter serial, so they made one about his son instead: Chick Carter, Detective, appeared in 1946.

Movie-of-the-week[edit]

In 1972, the actor Robert Conrad made a television pilot set in the Victorian era, The Adventures of Nick Carter that was shown as a made for television movie.

Czechoslovakia[edit]

The Czechoslovakian movie Dinner for Adele (1977) is a parody inspired by Nick Carter's pulp magazine adventures. It features "America's most famous detective" visiting Prague at the beginning of the 20th Century and solving a case involving a dangerous carnivorous plant (the Adele of the title). The Slovak actor Michal Dočolomanský played Nick Carter.

Radio[edit]

Charlotte Manson and Lon Clark in the Mutual series Nick Carter, Master Detective (1946)

Nick Carter first came to radio as The Return of Nick Carter. Then Nick Carter, Master Detective, with Lon Clark in the title role, began April 11, 1943, on Mutual, continuing in many different timeslots for well over a decade. Jock MacGregor was the producer-director of scripts by Alfred Bester, Milton J. Kramer, David Kogan and others. Background music was supplied by organists Hank Sylvern, Lew White and George Wright.

Patsy Bowen, Nick's assistant, was portrayed by Helen Choate until mid-1946 and then Charlotte Manson stepped into the role. Nick and Patsy's friend was reporter Scubby Wilson (John Kane). Nick's contact at the police department was Sgt. Mathison (Ed Latimer). The supporting cast included Raymond Edward Johnson, Bill Johnstone and Bryna Raeburn. Michael Fitzmaurice was the program's announcer. The series ended on September 25, 1955.

Chick Carter, Boy Detective was a serial adventure that aired weekday afternoons on Mutual. Chick Carter, the adopted son of Nick Carter, was played by Bill Lipton (1943–44) and Leon Janney (1944–45). The series aired from July 5, 1943 to July 6, 1945.

Comic Books[edit]

Nick Carter and Chick Carter appeared in comics published by Street & Smith.

Nick appeared in The Shadow Comics, then moved to Army & Navy Comics and Doc Savage Comics briefly, before moving back to The Shadow Comics. Some of these appearances were in text stories.

Chick appeared in The Shadow Comics, some of which were in text stories.

There was also Nick Carter (comic strip), a 1972 Italian comic strip featuring detective Nick Carter.

Listen to[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Elliott-Upton, Deborah (2008-07-24). "In the Nick of Time". Nick Carter. Criminal Brief. 
  2. ^ Elliott-Upton, Deborah (2010-03-11). "Branding". Nick Carter. Criminal Brief. 
  3. ^ Elliott-Upton, Deborah (2010-04-22). "American Idol". Nick Carter. Criminal Brief. 
  4. ^ Time magazine; Thomas Harbaugh, 75, one of the authors of the Nick Carter Detective Stories and other dime novels; penniless in the Miami County Home, Ohio. He wrote from 300 to 600 thrillers, at the rate of one a week, with pen; later, in the days of the typewriter, he sometimes bettered his speed.
  5. ^ Time magazine; Eugene T. Sawyer, 77, one of the authors of the Diamond Dick, the Nick Carter Detective Stories; in San Jose, California.
  6. ^ p.139 Wild Cat Books The Pulp Hero: Deluxe Edition 2008 Lulu
  7. ^ Richard Abel. The Ciné Goes to Town. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. pp.195-199,359-361.
  8. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031721/trivia

External links[edit]