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Michael Shayne

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Michael Shayne
First appearanceDividend on Death
Last appearanceWin Some, Lose Some
Created byBrett Halliday
Portrayed byLloyd Nolan (film)
Hugh Beaumont (film)
Jeff Chandler (radio)
Wally Maher (radio)
Mark Stevens (television pilot)
Richard Denning (television)
In-universe information
OccupationPrivate detective

Michael "Mike" Shayne is a fictional private detective character created during the late 1930s by writer Brett Halliday, a pseudonym of Davis Dresser. The character appeared in a series of seven films starring Lloyd Nolan for Twentieth Century Fox, five films from the low-budget Producers Releasing Corporation with Hugh Beaumont, a radio series under a variety of titles between 1944 and 1953, and later in 1960–1961 in a 32-episode NBC television series starring Richard Denning in the title role.

Character biography[edit]

Shayne debuted in the novel Dividend on Death first published in 1939, written by Dresser as Halliday. Fifty Shayne novels were published in hardcover written by Dresser (until 1958) and a variety of ghost-writers. Twenty-seven more were published as paperback originals for a total of seventy-seven. There are also 300 short stories (although many of these are condensed from, or were expanded into, published novels), a dozen films, radio programs and television shows, and a few comic book appearances that included the character.

Shayne was initially married in the novels, his wife being Phyllis (Brighton) Shayne, who was a somewhat limited character, and was often out of town. Dresser "killed her off" when he sold the movie rights to the series. In the book Blood on the Black Market, the comedy aspect of the earlier novels disappears and Shayne is forced to deal with his wife's death. Other recurring characters in the stories are reporter Tim Rourke, Miami Police Chief Will Gentry ( a close friend of Shayne's), Miami Beach Chief of Detectives Peter Painter (a foe of Shayne's), and Shayne's secretary (and occasional romantic interest) Lucy Hamilton.

Michael Shayne, stands out from his fictional detective peers primarily due to his professional ineptitude. He is perpetually financially unstable and desperate for any work he can get. A typical story often finds him on the brink of losing his office, or having his furniture reposed. He is often physically assaulted, and outmaneuvered, which usually results in his embarrassment, especially in the presence of police or other investigators. His frequent misfortunes are largely attributed to his strict ethical code, which prevents him from accepting morally ambiguous cases and the cases he does usually take are desperate clients and wind up being pro bono, leaving more broke than before. Additionally, his tendency to aid others often leads to regret when those he helps betray him. Despite these setbacks, Shayne manages to maintain a positive reputation based solely on his honesty and integrity. A recurring theme in the narratives surrounding Shayne is his widespread recognition; regardless of his location or the company he keeps, he is invariably known by those around him who are still willing to hire him.


Dresser later created Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, first introduced in 1956 by Renown Publications under the title Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine. The magazine continued for nearly three decades, always including at least one Shayne novella in each edition. By this time, "Brett Halliday" was simply a house name. For several years the magazine was edited by Frank Belknap Long.


The 1940 film Michael Shayne, Private Detective is the first in a series of twelve movies. Lloyd Nolan starred as Shayne through 1942, until the series was dropped by Twentieth Century Fox and picked up by PRC.

At that point, Hugh Beaumont took over the role in five films released in 1946. Then, over a half-century later, in 2005, Shane Black directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. It was based, in part, on the Shayne novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them, but does not feature Shayne as a character.

Twentieth Century Fox films with Lloyd Nolan[edit]

PRC films with Hugh Beaumont[edit]


Actor Jeff Chandler played Shayne in the radio series.

Jeff Chandler and Wally Maher were among the actors who starred as Shayne in three weekly radio series.[1]


Michael Shayne
Denning as Shayne with guest star Pat Crowley.
GenreDetective fiction
ComposerLeith Stevens
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes32
Running time60 min
Production companyFour Star Productions
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 30, 1960 (1960-09-30) –
May 19, 1961 (1961-05-19)

In 1958, a failed 30-minute pilot titled "Three Men on a Raft" with Mark Stevens playing Michael Shayne and Merry Anders as Lucy Hamilton was aired on the NBC anthology series "Decision". Then, in 1960, the 32-episode Michael Shayne television series began on NBC, with Richard Denning, formerly of the series Mr. and Mrs. North, in the title role. Patricia Donahue originated the role of Lucy Hamilton, Shayne's secretary, but was later replaced by Margie Regan as Lucy Carr after more than half of the episodes had been filmed. Herbert Rudley played Lieutenant Will Gentry of the Miami Police Department, and Jerry Paris played reporter Tim Rourke of the fictitious Miami Tribune. Gary Clarke, later of The Virginian, played Dick Hamilton, Lucy's younger brother, a character who does not appear in Halliday's books.

William Link and Richard Levinson wrote a number of episodes of the series, including "This Is It, Michael Shayne", which was based on Halliday's novel of that name. Julie Adams, who had previously worked with Richard Denning in Creature from the Black Lagoon, guest starred in this episode. Richard Arlen guest starred as Vincent Rinker in the 1961 episode, "Murder Is a Fine Art."

Beverly Garland appeared in "Murder and the Wanton Bride". She and Denning had previously starred in the 1957 Roger Corman feature film, Naked Paradise. Garland and Denning later costarred with Vincent Price in "The House of the Seven Gables" segment of the film Twice-Told Tales (1963). Warren Oates, Joan Marshall, and David White guest starred in the episode "Murder Round My Wrist." Margie Regan played a nurse in this episode, while Patricia Donahue was still playing Lucy Hamilton. On December 2, 1960, Robert Knapp portrayed Arthur Hudson in the episode "Blood on Biscayne Bay".

The hour-long series ran at 10 p.m. Fridays, opposite CBS's The Twilight Zone with Rod Serling and ABC's The Detectives with Robert Taylor and The Law and Mr. Jones, starring James Whitmore, Conlan Carter, and Janet De Gore.


Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
0 (Pilot)"Three Men on a Raft"Charles Van EngerSteve Fisher28 September 1958 (1958-09-28)
1"Dolls Are Deadly"Paul StewartRobert J. Shaw30 September 1960 (1960-09-30)
2"Night with Nora"Paul Stewart*7 October 1960 (1960-10-07)
3"Die Like a Dog"*Leslie Edgley
(as Robert Bloomfield)[2]
14 October 1960 (1960-10-14)
4"Framed in Blood"Gerald MayerDon Brinkley28 October 1960 (1960-10-28)
Reporter Ned Brooks has been murdered, and the evidence points to Tim Rourke – at least, politician Jim Gardena is doing his best to pin the rap on him.
5"Call for Michael Shayne"Robert FloreyAlfred Terego4 November 1960 (1960-11-04)
Mike is hired to investigate a suspicious death that the police have already ruled as accidental. When his activities threaten the election campaign of a would-be state attorney, the career of a prominent doctor and the insurance investigator who approved the claim for payment, he is slugged, drugged and framed for murder.
6"Shoot the Works"Gerald MayerRichard Levinson,
William Link
11 November 1960 (1960-11-11)
Lucy asks Mike to investigate the murder of her friend's husband; an apparently loving spouse, he been discovered with his bags packed, two airplane tickets for Paris in his pocket and a love letter lying by his body. Mike learns that $100,000 in negotiable bonds are missing from the office safe and the dead man's partners have a motive for murder.
7"The Poison Pen Club"Paul Stewart*18 November 1960 (1960-11-18)
8"This Is It, Michael Shayne"Robert FloreyBrett Halliday,
Richard Levinson,
William Link
25 November 1960 (1960-11-25)
Shayne regrets taking a day off to go fishing when he learns that a would-be client, a hard-charging investigative reporter, who had urgently begged for his assistance, was murdered before he could contact her. Taking the case personally, he ignores proper procedure and begins his own investigation into her murder and learns that a gambling racketeer, her estranged husband and a man accusing her of blackmail all had reason to kill her. This was actually the series' pilot episode.
9"Blood on Biscayne Bay"Paul StewartTed Leighton2 December 1960 (1960-12-02)
Shayne is hired to sell a valuable pearl necklace quickly and use the proceeds to pay off a gambling debt. When Shayne opts to pressure the gambling club owner into turning the IOU over to him for free, he is surprised when his client reacts angrily. Mike learns that the gambling debt was only a ruse. His pretty client is up to her eyeballs in blackmail and murder with suspects that include her brother-in-law, the casino lawyer, a former boyfriend and a sleazy divorce attorney.
10"Murder Plays Charades"Paul StewartDon Ingalls9 December 1960 (1960-12-09)
Mike is hired to investigate the murder of Voltane, a magician appearing at a charity event. He soon discovers that the magician and his lovely assistant, Kara, were married and simultaneously engaged in extra-marital affairs. His list of suspects expands to the men and women trysting with the show people, the jealous boyfriend and girlfriend of those who were running around with Voltane and his wife and a former magician with whom Voltane had once carried on a torrid affair.
11"Murder and the Wanton Bride"Gerald MayerWilliam F. Leicester16 December 1960 (1960-12-16)
A man is found murdered in an alley. The only clue to his identity is a note scrawled inside a matchbook cover regarding an appointment with Mike at 9 a.m. on the following day. Since Mike had no such appointment, and never makes them so early in the morning, he's intensely interested in discovering who killed his would-be client and why the dead man thought he had arranged for a meeting. When the misaddressed letter – complete with substantial retainer – arrives requesting the aforementioned appointment, Mike decides to take the dead man on as a client.
12"Death Selects the Winner"Gerald MayerDon Brinkley23 December 1960 (1960-12-23)
A publicist tries to hire Mike to serve as the bodyguard for one of the two favorites in a high-stakes beauty contest, but he refuses the offer. When the other favorite is found murdered in her dressing room, Mike agrees to represent her benefactor, an ex-mobster who swears he's gone straight. Mike must sort out the clues that point to several possible suspects – including other contestants, a businessman on the verge of bankruptcy and a sleazy bodyguard who might have double-crossed his employer.
13"Murder in Wonderland"Paul StewartRichard Levinson,
William Link
30 December 1960 (1960-12-30)
An accountant working for a notorious racketeer is murdered while talking to Mike Shayne on the phone. Police believe that the man was carrying a list of all of the racketeer's business contacts, but the only thing the man had in his locked briefcase was a copy of Alice in Wonderland. Although Captain Gentry finds no evidence that the list was hidden between the book's pages, a thug kidnaps Shayne's secretary and orders Mike to steal the novel from the police or else the pretty blonde will be killed.
14"The Man with a Cane"**6 January 1961 (1961-01-06)
Lou Stephano is a former gangster with a long checkered past and lots of enemies. When someone tries to kill him he asks Mike Shayne for help.
15"Spotlight on a Corpse"Sidney SalkowPalmer Thompson13 January 1961 (1961-01-13)
When a movie producer is found murdered on his set, Shayne is hired by the man financing the film to assist the police in the investigation. Shayne discovers that the actresses working on the film hated the dead man because of his lecherous ways, and a has-been director resented the way his role in the production was reduced to that of a voice coach.
16"Murder ’Round My Wrist"Walter DonigerSol Stein,
Glenn P. Wolfe
20 January 1961 (1961-01-20)
While recovering from an embarrassing injury – being shot in his rear end with a spear gun – Shayne becomes involved in a wrongful death investigation when his internist is accused of an incorrect diagnosis; he treated a wealthy investment broker for insulin shock when the man wasn't a diabetic. The detective discovers that many people would have reason to want the man's death to look like a misdiagnosis – his estranged wife, his embezzling business partner, his pretty young lover who wanted to end their relationship and the lover's brother who would lose the source of his income if his sister had married the dead man.
17"The Badge"Paul StewartRichard Levinson,
William Link
27 January 1961 (1961-01-27)
A police sergeant who believed he was about to crack a major case was gunned down in a rundown section of Miami. Before he died, he pinned his badge on the symbol of the Ravens, one of juvenile gangs operating in the area. Will Gentry is sure that one of their members killed the police officer, but the gang members ask Mike Shayne to find the real killer before the city shuts down the rehabilitation center operating in their neighborhood.
18"The Heiress"Sidney SalkowLaurence Heath3 February 1961 (1961-02-03)
A pretty young woman (Susan Oliver) hires Shayne look into the background of a man romancing the girl's wealthy mother. Shayne discovers that the paramour, though separated, has never been legally divorced from his previous spouse. Before he can reveal this information, the gold-digger is found murdered on the wealthy woman's estate and the police accuse the maid (Celia Lovsky), a survivor of a German concentration camp, of the crime.
19"Final Settlement"Paul StewartDon Brinkley10 February 1961 (1961-02-10)
When Trina DeWitt, a best-selling novelist, informs her ne'er-do-well husband that she has filed for a divorce, her spouse reacts violently. In the ensuing struggle the man falls on the ice pick that he'd twisted from his wife's hand. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they find no evidence of a body, or even a struggle, and are also not inclined to believe her story that someone has broken into her wall safe and stolen all her negotiable bonds and jewelry.
20"Four Lethal Ladies"Sidney SalkowWilliam F. Leicester,
Richard Levinson,
William Link
17 February 1961 (1961-02-17)
Marty Maxwell, a wealthy but unhappily single tycoon, decides to marry one of his four ex-wives and invites the women to a party to get reacquainted. He also invites Mike Shayne to the party, telling him that he has evidence that one of the women wishes to kill him. When Maxwell, as a practical joke, pretends to be poisoned, Shayne storms out of his apartment, but wishes he had stayed when he learns that his former client had, in fact, been murdered later in the evening. First appearance of Margie Regan as secretary Lucy Carr.
21"The Ancient Art of Murder"Robert B. Sinclair*24 February 1961 (1961-02-24)
Dr. Manx is an archaeologist and expert in Egyptian artifacts. A prize statuette that was in his possession has just been stolen and replaced with a valueless replica.
22"Murder at the Convention"Sidney SalkowJohn McGreevey3 March 1961 (1961-03-03)
When a sleazy detective is killed at a private investigator's convention in Miami, there is little regret shown among the two hundred attendees. Nevertheless, the private eyes quickly embark on their own murder investigations, much to the disgust of Lt. Will Gentry and the local police force.
23"Strike Out"**10 March 1961 (1961-03-10)
Shayne investigates the death by sleeping pills of Danny Blake, a former baseball star crippled in an accident, and uncovers a clandestine affair between Danny's wife Carol and his brother Marty, as well as an embezzlement. Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully and pitchers Sandy Koufax, Ed Roebuck, Larry Sherry and Stan Williams appear as themselves.[3]
24"Murder Is a Fine Art"Sidney SalkowJohn McGreevey17 March 1961 (1961-03-17)
Bohemian painter Adam Quick refuses Mike and Tim's offer to pay his fine for slugging a sleazy art dealer, preferring to get his day in court. Tim uses his connections to introduce Adam's work to an influential art collector, but his efforts are again scuttled by the art dealer. When the art dealer is found murdered with Adam lying unconscious over the body, the police arrest the painter for the crime. Mike agrees to take the case and discovers a number of other people who wanted to see the art dealer dead.
25"The Body Beautiful"Otto LangLeonard Haideman24 March 1961 (1961-03-24)
Shayne is hired by a doctor who was beaten by two thugs. The victim believes he was roughed up because of his friendship with a bodybuilder nicknamed "Hercules" who plans to bow out as the front man of a franchise of weightlifting gymnasiums. Hercules has fallen in love with the doctor's wild sister and when both the physician and bride are found murdered, the muscle man becomes the prime suspect.
26"'Marriage Can Be Fatal"Walter DonigerDon Brinkley31 March 1961 (1961-03-31)
Vinnie Pico tries to hire Mike to break up his kid sister's wedding with a unscrupulous playboy, even offering him a blank check for his fee. When Shayne refuses, Vinnie knocks the private detective out. When the playboy is found murdered, Mike is hired to assist in the investigation and discovers that the glass to family's gun case was broken with a high-heeled shoe.
27"The Boat Caper"Robert B. SinclairHoward Dimsdale7 April 1961 (1961-04-07)
Arnold Wills is actually happy when his hated business partner is killed by an explosion outside a marina, so it comes as no surprise to any of his friends when the police arrest him for murder. The stubborn defendant refuses Mike's assistance, but the detective investigates anyway and discovers plenty of circumstantial evidence that points to his friend's guilt and plenty of other people who had reasons for wanting the murdered man dead.
28"Date with Death"Otto LangLaurence Heath14 April 1961 (1961-04-14)
A wino comes to Mike Shayne with a wild story about two thugs beating and abducting a man who was standing next to him on the waterfront. Mike believe the old man's story, but the police are skeptical until attempts are made on the alcoholic's life and evidence is found that the missing man was connected to a gunrunning deal that went bad.
29"The Trouble with Ernie"Robert ButlerStanford Whitmore21 April 1961 (1961-04-21)
When the wrong performer is murdered in the locker room of a swimming arena, the police attempt to learn who would want to kill the intended victim, a popular war hero turned entertainer. The hero is reluctant to accept police protection, but agrees to hire Mike Shayne to help the police run down possible leads. Shayne discovers that the killer was a gunman hired by an unexpected source.
30"No Shroud for Shayne"Walter DonigerDon Brinkley5 May 1961 (1961-05-05)
Mike returns from a three-day fishing trip and discovers that he was reported to have died in a plane crash. Mike decides to remain "dead" so he can investigate the man who impersonated him, and becomes involved with another impostor, flamenco dancers, mob hit men and an informer who wants to turn state's evidence.
31"It Takes a Heap o’ Dyin’"Otto LangDon Brinkley12 May 1961 (1961-05-12)
The Palmers, a recently married couple, buy a mansion for back taxes and soon find themselves beset by strange neighbors, intruders and mysterious bumps in the night. When a large trunk left in the basement by the previous owner – an accused murderer – is found vandalized, Fred Palmer hires Mike Shayne to investigate. Mike tries to learn if the mysterious goings-on have anything to do with the disappearance of the beautiful woman whose portrait hangs over the fireplace.
32"Dead Air"Sidney SalkowWilliam Link and Richard Levinson19 May 1961 (1961-05-19)
Lucy's friend Pat comes to Michael for help, certain that a popular but personally dislikable TV ventriloquist is going to kill her husband, whom Pat has become romantically involved with.

* Unknown


Dell Comics picked up the character for a comic book series (three issues), Mike Shayne – Private Eye.


  1. ^ Review of Radio show in May 1949 at Variety
  2. ^ "TV Writing Deals". The Hollywood Reporter. June 27, 1960. p. 8. ProQuest 2338307938.
  3. ^ "Sports Celebrities Appear in Mystery," Biddeford-Saco (Maine) Journal, Mar. 4, 1961, p. 10.

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