Richard Pike Bissell
Richard Pike Bissell (June 27, 1913 in Dubuque, Iowa – May 4, 1977) was an American author of short stories and novels. His third book, and second novel, 7½ Cents, was adapted into the Broadway musical The Pajama Game. This won him (along with co-author George Abbott) the 1955 Tony Award for Best Musical. He wrote a book about the experience called Say, Darling, which chronicled the ins and outs of a broadway musical production and featured characters based on those (such as Harold Prince) he worked with; this book was also turned into a musical, also called Say, Darling, in 1958.
He wrote a memoir of his experiences at Harvard, You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man (McGraw Hill, 1965). He worked on a freighter on the American Export Business Lines and riverboats, served as vice president at a Dubuque clothing manufacturer which had been bought by his great-grandfather (who worked his way from the bottom to the top of the company). He lived for several years and raised his children in Rowayton, Connecticut. A member of The Lambs from 1956.
Bissell wrote works about his experiences on the river that had some critics comparing him to Mark Twain, and 7½ Cents was based on his experiences in the garment industry. Bissell wrote 7½ Cents while he was the vice-president of his family's pajama factory located in Dubuque.
- A Stretch on the River (1950)
- The Monongahela (1952)
- 7½ Cents (1953)
- High Water (1954)
- Say, Darling (1959)
- Good Bye, Ava (1960)
- You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man (1962)
- Still Circling Moose Jaw (1965)
- How Many Miles to Galena? (1968)
- Julia Harrington, Winnebago, Iowa (1969)
- My Life on the Mississippi, or Why I Am Not Mark Twain (1973)
- New Light on 1776 and All That (1975)
In 2008, Elmore Leonard cited Richard Bissell as a major influence in formation of his style because he felt Bissell could be naturally funny:
Once I realized he (Ernest Hemingway) doesn't have much of a sense of humor, at least he doesn't show it in his books then I had to find someone else. And there was a writer by the name of Richard Bissell and Bissell wrote 7½ Cents which became The Pajama Game and wrote books set on the Mississippi river where he was a pilot, a towboat pilot I don't know for how long. Then he wrote about five books and he had such a natural style. There was humor on his towboat guys' talk, but it was never forced. He wasn't trying to be funny. That was the main point. I thought that's the way to do it. That's the way.
- "The Lambs Club, established 1874". www.the-lambs.org.
- Biography icgov.org; accessed January 20, 2018.
- Elmore Leonard Interview from the 2008 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference in Montgomery College, YouTube.com; accessed January 20, 2015.