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Wade Miller Biography

  • Profession: Book Author, Screen Story
  • Born: Jan 1, 0001
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001

Wade Miller was a composite pseudonym for two authors, Robert Wade and Bill Miller -- together they wrote 33 novels, of which more than a half-dozen were filmed. Bill Miller was born on May 11, 1920 in Garrett, IN, and his family moved to San Diego, CA, in 1922. Robert Wade was born on June 8, 1920 in San Diego, and attempted to write his first novel at the age of eight. He met Miller while the two were attending a music class at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in San Diego during 1932. They began writing together in their teens and were soon doing plays, sketches, radio scripts, and motion-picture shorts, and worked together editing their college newspaper. The two quickly discovered that they functioned virtually as one mind, with virtually identical interests and tastes in everything that mattered in the partnership. After service in the military (during which Wade was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the infantry), they resumed working together and published their first book, Deadly Weapon, in 1946. A crime novel that elicited wildly enthusiastic reviews (it was compared favorably to the work of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler), it marked the beginning of a collaboration that lasted until Bill Miller's death (the result of a bad heart) in 1961. Their second novel, Guilty Bystander, appeared in 1947, introducing the character of Max Thursday, a San Diego-based alcoholic ex-police detective turned private investigator, and three years later it became their first book to be adapted into a motion picture. Their intent was only to use Max Thursday for the one book, but the character was so vividly drawn and seemed to offer so many possibilities that they revived him in five subsequent books; Robert Wade also wrote a seventh Max Thursday book on his own, following Miller's death. They continued working under the name Wade Miller once it had been established, both for commercial reasons and as a statement of the closeness of their collaboration. Unless one is familiar with the brand of thrillers, mystery, and detective fiction in which Wade Miller specialized, it's difficult to appreciate just how successful they were -- the most successful of their 33 books easily sold over a million copies each, and their work was translated into more than 18 other languages. The pair also worked under several other names over the years, including Whit Masterson, Will Daemer, and Dale Wilmer, owing to changes in publishers, editors, or genres; Robert Wade kept the Whit Masterson pseudonym alive after Bill Miller's death. Other books by Miller and Wade that were adapted to the screen included All Through the Night (credited to Whit Masterson), which became the thriller A Cry in the Night (1956), directed by Frank Tuttle and starring Edmond O'Brien, Natalie Wood, and Raymond Burr; Badge of Evil (attributed to Whit Masterson), which was the source for Orson Welles' classic Touch of Evil; Evil Come, Evil Go (credited to Whit Masterson), which Buzz Kulik brought to the screen as The Yellow Canary in 1963, starring Pat Boone, Barbara Eden, Steve Forrest, and Jack Klugman; Kitten With a Whip, which Douglas Heyes turned into a movie of the same title in 1964, starring Ann-Margret and John Forsythe; 711 -- Officer Needs Help (credited to Whit Masterson), which was adapted by Buzz Kulik into a superb thriller called Warning Shot, starring David Janssen; and The Killer, which became the 1968 made-for-television feature The Manhunter, starring Roy Thinnes, under director Don Taylor. Beyond the film adaptations, a handful of the Wade Miller/Whit Masterson stories also served as the basis for episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and other suspense anthology series of the 1950s and early '60s. At one point, the pair were in such demand that James Cagney -- who produced films during this period as well as starred in them -- requested that Wade Miller author a book that he could film and star in, and the result was Devil May Care, containing the character of Biggo Venn, written especially for Cagney; ironically, Cagney never did get around to turning in a movie, with himself or anyone else in it. Robert Wade also wrote a handful of novels that were published under his name only. He remained active into his seventies. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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