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Full Name: Honey West
Nationality: American
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: G. G. Fickling
Time Span: 1957 - 1994


       Honey West is an agent with the CIA.
       At least she would become one eventually.
       Before the arrival of the best female in the history of spy fiction (my opinion), Modesty Blaise, there was another pretty impressive woman that earned a fair amount of deserved acclaim. That was the ever delectable and deadly Honey West.
       Conceived and created by the husband and wife team of Gloria and Forrest (Skip) Fickling in the mid 50's, West was truly a ground-breaker in that the star character was a gifted, intelligent, dangerous private investigator running an agency with considerable skill and success. Obviously the unique aspect was that the private eye was a woman.
       In keeping with much of the stereotypes of that decade, West often found herself in scrapes demanding the utmost in care and luck to get out alive and with her virtue intact. Still, it was she who willingly put herself into harm's way while doing her job, not simply the victim of cruel fate foisted on a defenseless female. West was never a defenseless anything.
       West gained her detective business from her murdered father and kept it going through tenacity and grit as female investigators in the 50's were not standard fare. For the next eight years she engage in nine chronicled adventures.
       In 1965, the Aaron Spelling organization wanted to bring this judo-kicking, risk-taking sexy lady to the small screen. As a test run, they introduced her to the viewers in a guest role of the popular police drama Burke's Law starring Gene Barry. The show, entitled Who Killed The Jackpot, proved interesting enough to warrant a series of its own. That series came later in the fall when Anne Francis again brought the character to life for another 30 episodes on ABC. It lasted one season only, killed by either weak plots, the arrival on that network of reruns of The Avengers, or far superior ratings by its competitor Gomer Pyle, USMC (depending on who you talk to). In the television series, Honey was accompanied, and often saved, by her associate, Sam Bolt, played by John Ericson. In the books, he was not a factor.
       So why is a private investigator in Los Angeles mentioned in this spy compendium?
       In 1971, seven years after the other books had been published and five years after the television series left the air, the authors brought her back in a changed role. This time she had left her private practice to join the CIA as an 'illegal', an operative that worked outside the official chain of command and was, therefore, deniable if caught.
       This new career lasted only two books, though more adventures were alluded to in the stories. These missions were quite a bit different from her previous type of work although she remained a lithesome 28 years old with an enchanting 38-22-36 figure. Also still a primary factor was the lack of belief by the males she met that she was capable of handling the assignments. They, and the male readers, I'm sure, were more interested in what was below her neck than above it. She would routinely prove them foolish.


Number of Books:11
First Appearance:1957
Last Appearance:1971

       The first nine books in the series were of Honey West as a private investigator, a very unusual occupation for a female at the time but not unheard of (Gardner's Bertha Cool hit the streets back in 1939). From her introduction in 1957 until 1961 she got involved in some quite interesting but non-spy related cases. A three-year gap insued and then a final private-eye adventure though this one did involve Nazis trying to bring back the bad old days.
       Jump ahead 7 years and West is back for her final two adventures in book form, this time working for the government as an agent.

1 This Girl For Hire This Girl For Hire
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1957

Non-Spy - A former big movie star is now happy to get any part he can but when he gets into a fight on a set, he fears for his life and hires Honey West.

2 A Gun For Honey A Gun For Honey
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1958

Non-spy - Invited to a party by a rich director who lives the same town where two women have been suffocated, Honey West is there when the director's wife is found murdered.

3 Girl On The Loose Girl On The Loose
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1958

Non-spy - Honey West is kidnapped and disguised to look like a female Marine who has gone AWOL. Shortly, the kidnapper is murdered, and the trouble really gets going.

4 Honey In The Flesh Honey In The Flesh
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1959

Non-spy - the producer of the Miss Twentieth Century beauty pageant hires Honey West when one of his beauty contestants goes missing and the body of a woman is found along the shore.

5 Girl On The Prowl Girl On The Prowl
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1959

Non-spy - a famous stripper hires Honey West when one of her twin brothers is found dead, impaled by a fishing spear and the stripper thinks the other twin did it.

6 Kiss For A Killer Kiss For A Killer
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1960

Non-spy - hearing that the star quarterback for the Rams has been killed in a strange accident and she had been dating him, Honey West starts to go to the scene but she is bitten when her car is filled with poisonous spiders.

7 Dig A Dead Doll Dig A Dead Doll
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1960

Non-spy - an American bullfighter invites Honey West to watch him perform in Tijuana. She is there when he stumbles and is gored to death. West is certain foul play was at fault.

8 Blood And Honey Blood And Honey
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1961

Non-spy - a Broadway producer is making a play based on Honey West's life and she is invited to New York as a consultant. Upon her arrival, she has to dodge bullets as someone wants her dead.

9 Bombshell Bombshell
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1964

Non-spy - In Florida at the request of a friend to investigate strange happenings, Honey West runs up against Nazis determined to put Hitler back in power.

10 Stiff As A Broad Stiff As A Broad
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1971

The plot of a dangerous dragon lady named Madame Fong of the Red Chinese government is to totally destroy the Bay Area with a highly lethal nerve gas unless Honey West can get to her first.

11 Honey On Her Tail Honey On Her Tail
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1971

The strange and shadowy organization known as MAD had a hand in killing an important figure aboard an airliner and then disappearing, all within the view of Honey West. Now she is mad herself and determined to find out what they are up to and to stop it.


Number of Episodes:32
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1994


       It is very common for the producers of a popular show to get the green light on another series and a very good way to introduce the new series is in an episode of the former. Toes can test the waters and if the temp is right, the second show hits the air with a boost. That is what happened with the Honey West series as the production company that was already going well with Burke's Law wanted to do a series about Ms. West and used the 20th episode of the 2nd season to let the public see her.
       It worked well enough to get her on the roster for the next season. She only lasted that one season but she made enough of an impression that she is remembered fondly by people like myself (I was a young teenager enamored with her) a half century later.

       One extra comment. In 1994 a production company brought back the series Burke's Law for another shot. The characters had understandably aged quite a bit because the star, Gene Barry, had aged, but I was always a Gene Barry fan from his Bat Masterson days so it was great seeing him again in such a suave, cool role. The show lasted two seasons. In the 3rd episode of the first season, the plot called for Burke to again work with Honey West. Unfortunately the rights to Ms West were no longer available so the character was named Honey Best. But we knew!

0 Who Killed The Jackpot?
Episode 2-20, first aired 04/21/1965
Director: Richard Kinon
Writers: Paul Dubov, Gwen Bagni
Guest Stars: Anne Francis as Honey West, Gene Barry as Amos Burke, Steve Forrest as Jocko Creighton

The 62nd episode of the series Burke's Law starring Gene Barry. When a wealthy banker is murdered and found atop a hotel's neon sign, a race to find the killer develops between Burke and the beautiful private detective Honey West who was working for the dead man.

1 The Swingin' Mrs. Jones
Episode 1-01, first aired 09/17/1965


2 The Owl and the Eye
Episode 1-02, first aired 09/24/1965


3 The Abominable Snowman
Episode 1-03, first aired 10/01/1965


4 A Matter of Wife and Death
Episode 1-04, first aired 10/08/1965


5 Live a Little, Kill a Little
Episode 1-05, first aired 10/15/1965


6 Whatever Lola Wants....
Episode 1-06, first aired 10/22/1965


7 The Princess and the Paupers
Episode 1-07, first aired 10/29/1965


8 In the Bag
Episode 1-08, first aired 11/05/1965


9 The Flame and the Pussycat
Episode 1-09, first aired 11/12/1965


10 A Neat Little Package
Episode 1-10, first aired 11/19/1965


11 A Stitch in Crime
Episode 1-11, first aired 11/26/1965


12 A Million Bucks in Anybody's Language
Episode 1-12, first aired 12/03/1965


13 The Gray Lady
Episode 1-13, first aired 12/10/1965


14 Invitation to Limbo
Episode 1-14, first aired 12/17/1965


15 Rockabye the Hard Way
Episode 1-15, first aired 12/24/1965


16 A Nice Little Till to Tap
Episode 1-16, first aired 12/31/1965


17 How Brillig, O, Beamish Boy
Episode 1-17, first aired 01/07/1966


18 King of the Mountain
Episode 1-18, first aired 01/14/1966


19 It's Earlier Than You Think
Episode 1-19, first aired 01/21/1966


20 The Perfect Un-Crime
Episode 1-20, first aired 01/28/1966


21 Like Visions and Omens and All That Jazz
Episode 1-21, first aired 02/04/1966


22 Don't Look Now, But Isn't That Me
Episode 1-22, first aired 02/11/1966


23 Come to Me, My Litigation Baby
Episode 1-23, first aired 02/18/1966


24 Slay, Gypsy, Slay
Episode 1-24, first aired 02/25/1966


25 The Fun-Fun Killer
Episode 1-25, first aired 03/04/1966


26 Pop Goes the Easel
Episode 1-26, first aired 03/11/1966


27 Little Green Robin Hood
Episode 1-27, first aired 03/18/1966


28 Just the Bear Facts Ma'am
Episode 1-28, first aired 03/25/1966


29 There's a Long, Long, Fuse A'Burning
Episode 1-29, first aired 04/01/1966


30 An Eerie, Airy, Thing
Episode 1-30, first aired 04/08/1966


31 Who Killed Nick Hazard?
Episode 1-3, first aired 01/21/1994
Director: Dennis Dugan
Writer: Joel J. Feigenbaum
Guest Stars: Honey Best, Amos Burke

The 3rd episode of the 2nd Burke's Law TV series. Honey attends a convention for private investigator where one of them is murdered. Amos and Peter now have a number of suspects because the dead P.I. was not like much. Honey seems to be one of them.


       As a spy, Honey West never really caught on with the public. Seven years spanned the time between her last published detective adventure and the first of the two spy stories. In that time, 1964 – 1971, the world changed so very, very much.
A sexy female agent could no longer be quite as chaste as West was and still attract the buyer’s attention. The writers kept West as she had been a decade earlier. In the early 70s, though, her sensuality was just a bit passé. If she had turned agent five years earlier, she could have stayed a hit.
Plus, and this is just my opinion, it got tiresome and unbelievable to have her constantly put down by everyone she worked for. It just made no sense for officialdom to constantly need her awesome talents while constantly indicating she was no good. That was a shame.


My Grade: C


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