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HONEY WEST

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

Creator: G. G. Fickling
Time Span: 1957 - 2013

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Honey West is an agent with the CIA.
       At least she would become one eventually.
       When we first meet her, being a secret agent would have been snorted at by West. She was a private investigator. That is what she wanted to be and that was enough. It was enough for her father, Hank West, whose office she now occupies like he did for many years until a bullet ended that life "in a dirty Los Angeles back alley".
       For many living in the home of movie stars and the rich and famous, someone like West definitely stands out. As one particularly odious medical examiner but nevertheless accurate observer points out to her in one scene, "You're a beautiful woman. Hair the color of sunlight. Eyes as big and bright as that sea out there. You know, you'd make a dandy beauty queen." On more than one occasion, a male (being a male) will point out that she had a fantastic figure including legs that would qualify her as a chorus girl.
       With so many people, mostly men but the occasional female, telling West that she was in the wrong business and that she should get out, it is quite believable that she would have a good response, like this one she uses with an L.A. sheriff's detective friend who insists this was not the sort of work she should be in: "You've got a lot of guts to tell me what I ought to do - where I ought to get off! Sure, I'm a woman! I act like a woman, think like a woman, look like a woman, but I'm mixed up in a rotten dirty business that men think they own by right of conquest! But you've never stopped to consider that half the crimes in the United States today are committed by women - and half of those committed by men are provoked by women. So where does that leave you? In a business operated seventy-five percent by females! All right, so you don't think I'm nice. What are you going to do about it?"

       When West makes the switch from gumshoes to cloaks and daggers, she does so as an NOC, non-official cover in modern parlance but she called it being an "illegal". One of the groups that she spends time going after is MAD, an organization whose name, according to one thing I read stood for "Mord Aterrorizer Dominar" but which defied my translation. As an operative she will go up against invisible spies and very small hydrogen bombs.

BOOKS

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

       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.
       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 ensued 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.

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:1
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1965

1 The Red Haiting The Red Haiting
Written by G. G. Fickling
Copyright: 1965

Published in the June 1965 edition of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine - [plot unknown]

TELEVISION


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

REGULAR CAST

       In 1965, the Aaron Spelling organization wanted to bring this judo-kicking, risk-taking sexy lady to the small screen. 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
Director: Paul Wendkos
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

Honey West is after a blackmail ring that targets wealthy middle-aged women.

2 The Owl and the Eye
Episode 1-02, first aired 09/24/1965
Director: Paul Wendkos
Writer: William Bast

After being hired to show how easy it was to get around a museum's security, Honey West comes up with a much better system, which is promptly gotten around.

3 The Abominable Snowman
Episode 1-03, first aired 10/01/1965
Director: Paul Wendkos
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

A dying client gives Honey West a snowglobe. This confuses her. Then people start trying to steal it which confuses her more.

4 A Matter of Wife and Death
Episode 1-04, first aired 10/08/1965
Director: John Florea
Writer: Tony Barrett

A female executive has been receiving death threats.

5 Live a Little, Kill a Little
Episode 1-05, first aired 10/15/1965
Director: Murray Golden
Writer: Tony Barrett

A woman ends things with a mobster and now he hires an assassin to end her.

6 Whatever Lola Wants....
Episode 1-06, first aired 10/22/1965
Director: John Peyser
Writer: William Bast

Honey West is on the trail of an embezzler to find where he planted the loot but instead learns her client is planning murder.

7 The Princess and the Paupers
Episode 1-07, first aired 10/29/1965
Director: Virgil W. Vogel
Writer: Leonard Stadd

Honey West is hired to make sure ransom money to retrieve a rock-n-roll singer is delivered.

8 In the Bag
Episode 1-08, first aired 11/05/1965
Director: Seymour Robbie
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

Her job was simple but annoying - escort a brat of a child from one divorced parent to another at an airport. Then the child disappears.

9 The Flame and the Pussycat
Episode 1-09, first aired 11/12/1965
Director: James Goldstone
Writer: George Clayton Johnson

While trying to snare an arsonist to earn a contract with a warehouse company turns wrong when they interfere with the police.

10 A Neat Little Package
Episode 1-10, first aired 11/19/1965
Director: Murray Golden
Writers: Gwen Badni, Paul Dubov

A newsdealer has no memory but he does have $150k. He has no idea how either happened and he wants Honey West to find out.

11 A Stitch in Crime
Episode 1-11, first aired 11/26/1965
Director: John Peyser
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

The theft of gowns due at a fashion show will mean ruin for the designer unless Honey West, the person guarding them, can get them back,

12 A Million Bucks in Anybody's Language
Episode 1-12, first aired 12/03/1965
Director: John Florea
Writer: Tony Barrett

A fellow private eye dies in an explosion. Honey West wants to know what he was working on and why did he die. British pound counterfeit plates play a part.

13 The Gray Lady
Episode 1-13, first aired 12/10/1965
Director: William Grauman
Writers: William Link, Richard Levinson

A famous actress has her jewelry stolen during a premier and Honey West goes after the thief.

14 Invitation to Limbo
Episode 1-14, first aired 12/17/1965
Director: Tom Gries
Writers: William Link, Richard Levinson

Finding the person stealing industrial secrets to sell to a competitor is the latest job for Honey West.

15 Rockabye the Hard Way
Episode 1-15, first aired 12/24/1965
Director: Bill Colleran
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

Spies are drugging drivers who are hauling secret weapons so they can take photos while the men are asleep.

16 A Nice Little Till to Tap
Episode 1-16, first aired 12/31/1965
Director: Jerry Hopper
Writer: Tony Barrett

The question for Honey West is how did bank robbers avoided the bank's fancy alarms.

17 How Brillig, O, Beamish Boy
Episode 1-17, first aired 01/07/1966
Director: Ida Lupino
Writer: Don Ingalls

Honey West is paid to deliver a half million dollars but then her associate Sam is kidnapped and the ransom is the money.

18 King of the Mountain
Episode 1-18, first aired 01/14/1966
Director: Thomas Carr
Writer: Jay Simms

A reclusive billionaire is said to be suffering from a rare defect and Honey West is hired to see if it is on the up and up.

19 It's Earlier Than You Think
Episode 1-19, first aired 01/21/1966
Director: James H. Brown
Writer: Marc Brandel

An avid collector hands Honey West what looks to be an 1865 rare newspaper but as he dies from gun shot wounds, he claims it is a fake.

20 The Perfect Un-Crime
Episode 1-20, first aired 01/28/1966
Director: Sidney Miller
Writer: Ken Kolb

An embezzler has a change of heart and wants Honey West to break into the company's safe to return it before the theft is discovered.

21 Like Visions and Omens and All That Jazz
Episode 1-21, first aired 02/04/1966
Director: John Florea
Writer: Tony Barrett

A young wealthy woman is the subject of too many near fatal accidents. Honey West is suspicious when the girl's mother hires a psychic.

22 Don't Look Now, But Isn't That Me
Episode 1-22, first aired 02/11/1966
Director: James H. Brown
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

Someone has gotten hold of Honey West's client list and is impersonating her to rip off those customers.

23 Come to Me, My Litigation Baby
Episode 1-23, first aired 02/18/1966
Director: Thomas Carr
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

Suspecting that an insurance claimant is really faking his injuries, Honey West looks into the one witness to the accident and notices that the sweet little old lady is rather accident-prone herself.

24 Slay, Gypsy, Slay
Episode 1-24, first aired 02/25/1966
Director: James H. Brown
Writer: Tony Barrett

The lead suspects in the kidnapping of a wealthy man is a band of gypsies.

25 The Fun-Fun Killer
Episode 1-25, first aired 03/04/1966
Director: Murray Golden
Writer: Arthur Weingarten

The toy manufacturer was killed by a large toy robot. Honey West is hired to figure out who was behind it.

26 Pop Goes the Easel
Episode 1-26, first aired 03/11/1966
Director: James H. Brown
Writers: Lila Garrett, Bernie Kahn, Gail Allen, Chris Christensen

An artist and an art dealer takes one of the man's hand-painted soup cans and put it on a can at a store to see if anyone notices. A woman buys the can but someone else steals it from her.

27 Little Green Robin Hood
Episode 1-27, first aired 03/18/1966
Director: Sidney Miller
Writer: Ken Kolb

After several homes in a gated community are burgled, Honey West is hired to provide addition security. She catches a man who believes he is Robin Hood.

28 Just the Bear Facts Ma'am
Episode 1-28, first aired 03/25/1966
Director: James H. Brown
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

To investigate the death of a stunt woman at a studio, Honey West goes undercover as her replacement, landing herself as the new target.

29 There's a Long, Long, Fuse A'Burning
Episode 1-29, first aired 04/01/1966
Director: Thomas Carr
Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov

A copycat has used a retired robber's M.O. so the police think the old man was back in action. Honey West is asked to prove his innocence.

30 An Eerie, Airy, Thing
Episode 1-30, first aired 04/08/1966
Director: James H. Brown
Writers: William Link, Richard Levinson

A friend of Sam's is on a high ledge of a hotel room threatening to jump unless he can talk with his estranged wife. When Honey West goes to get her, the woman has been murdered.

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.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:8
First Appearance:1966
Last Appearance:2013

1 The Underwater Raiders The Underwater Raiders
Published by Western Publishing
Contributors: Paul S. Newman (writer), Jack Sparling (artist)
Copyright: 09/1966

1st of 2 stories in the solo Gold Key issue of Honey West - 16 pages - West is hired to protect a lot of rich people with a lot of expensive jewelry on a party on a fancy yacht. When the thieves come onboard as frogmen, though, they steal a model of a new, secret bomber instead.

2 The Fall Guy The Fall Guy
Published by Western Publishing
Contributors: Paul S. Newman (writer), Jack Sparling (artist)
Copyright: 09/1966

2nd of 2 stories in the solo Gold Key issue of Honey West - 16 pages - West is very curious exactly why gangsters are so determined to force wrestler Acey Allan to throw a match.

3 Killer On The Keys Killer On The Keys
Published by Moonstone
Contributors: Trina Robbins (writer), Cynthia Martin (artist), Mark Simmons (colors), Marshall Dillon (letters)
Copyright: 08/2010

2-part adventure told in Honey West #1-#2 - "Danger lurks in Hollywood when topless piano player Mimi Malloy walks into Honey West’s office. There’s been a double homicide at her nightclub, the Purple Pussy, and Mimi suspects she’s the next victim! Honey goes undercover as a go-go dancer and mixes it up with Hollywood hippies to uncover the “Killer on the Keys.”"

4 Murder On Mars Murder On Mars
Published by Moonstone
Contributors: Trina Robbins (writer), Cynthia Martin (artist), Mark Simmons (colors), Marshall Dillon (letters)
Copyright: 02/2011

3-part adventure told in Honey West #3-#5 -

5 Murder, Forsooth Murder, Forsooth
Published by Moonstone
Contributors: Trina Robbins (writer), Silvestre Szilagyi (illustration), James Brown (colors), E.T.Dollman (letters)
Copyright: 06/2012

2-part adventure told in Honey West #6-#7 -

6 You Ought To Be In Pictures You Ought To Be In Pictures
Published by Moonstone
Contributors: Mark Rahner (writer), Glen Fernandez (pencils & inks)
Copyright: 2011

Part of Moonstone's Phases of the Moon set of crossover adventures - This combined Honey West and supernatural investigator Carl Kolchak. West is looking into a series of grizzly murders similar to ones some time back related Hollywood. Kolchak believe there is an otherworldliness to it.

7 High Heels & Hedonism High Heels & Hedonism
Published by Moonstone
Contributors: Janet L. Hetherington (writer), Ronn Sutton (pencils & inks), James Brown (colors), Bernie Lee (letters)
Copyright: 2013

[plot unknown]

8 Death in the Desert Death in the Desert
Published by Moonstone
Contributors: Trina Robbins (writer), Silvestre Szilagyi (pencils & inks), Patrick Williams (colors), Bernie Lee (letters)
Copyright: 2013

2-issue adventure - Honey West teams up with T.H.E. Cat - 23 pages each - An Asian scientist hires Honey West to recover a his flu vaccine from a rival researcher who had stolen it. Along the way an old boyfriend of West's, now in the CIA, joins her but might really be working against her. West turns to another man to help stop the cure from becoming a bio-weapon - T.H.E.Cat.


PARODIES, SATIRES, AND PASTICHES

Number of Entries:1
First Appearance:1966
Last Appearance:1966

1 Honey Waste Honey Waste
Published by Mad Magazine
Contributors: Tom Koch (writer), Mort Drucker (artist)
Copyright: 06/1966

From Mad Magazine #102 - From the High Heel Gumshoe Dept. - Honey Waste and her assistant Scram Bolt are hired to keep a load of laundry out of a Chinese tong's control.
Click here to read the story.

GAMES

Number of Games:1
First Appearance:1966
Last Appearance:1966

1 Honey West - The Girl Private-eye Game Honey West - The Girl Private-eye Game
Boardgame
Ideal
Copyright: 1966

Based on the ABC series starring Anne Francis, up to 4 players spin and move about the board. Each even square had the player draw an event card which was resolved using the spinner to collect Honey West Tokens.

MY COMMENTS

       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.

GRADE

My Grade: C

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