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GAIL LOVELESS

cosmopolitan_193303 cosmopolitan_193304 cosmopolitan_193208 cosmopolitan_193211 cosmopolitan_193209 cosmopolitan_193305 cosmopolitan_193301 cosmopolitan_193212 cosmopolitan_193306 loveless_gail_bk_sso13 cosmopolitan_193307 cosmopolitan_193302 cosmopolitan_193210 loveless_gail_mv_o13
 
Full Name: Gail Loveless
Codename: Operator 13
Nationality: American
Organization: Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Robert W. Chambers
Time Span: 1932 - 1934

ABOUT THE SERIES

Gail Loveless is an agent with the American Secret Service.

The activities of this woman take place during the Civil War, starting in September of 1862. It is from this that we deduce the "Secret Service" mentioned in the text as well as the title of the collection of stories refers to the espionage work done during that conflict and not the actual government agency which would be founded under the auspices of the Treasury Department three years later initially to combat rampant counterfeiting. The head of the intelligence organization for which Loveless will go to work is the famous Allan Pinkerton, then spelt "Alan" and known to his subordinates as "Major Allen". 

The accomplished stage actress Pauline Cushman is the woman initially chosen by Major Allen to head south to spy on Stuart's activities but that woman insisted she needed help and would have no one other than her friend Loveless, then a "very young actress in my stock company" using the stage name of Lucille Lyndon. When not needed for a production, Loveless worked as a nurse at base hospitals. She is said by Cushman to be "very anxious to do Secret Service work".

When Major Allen asked if young Loveless would be capable of the sort of work she might need to do, Cushman assured him Loveless would be "the best fitted of any operator I know, man or woman" and went on to say that she was a very shrewd individual who "has a demoralizing effect upon men" in that "the child is born to trouble men". With the Major needing more information, Cushman said, "She's a gay young thing, full of laughter and of life; but gayety of heart is no sin, and I know of nothing to her discredit ... And she is a natural as well as an accomplished actress. She can seem to be anybody; deceive anybody; and the youngness of her and her lovely face would fool the devil himself."

Loveless is a very light-skinned black woman, referred to in the text as a octoroon (a now offensive term for someone who is one-eighth black) who could and sometimes did pass a white woman but who, when needing to go in disguise, could pass without trouble as black. Regardless of race, there is no doubt that Loveless is a beautiful female who "is one of those women to whom all men are immediately attracted" and who was more than smart and crafty enough to control most of them.

The 20-year-old is described as having "close-clipped, tightly curled dark hair; [with] her velvet eyes full of youth's light gayety; [having] full, laughing lips [and] a slim body fairly a-quiver with suppressed mischief." She admits to Major Allen that she is capable of being afraid but instead of running at such times, she stands her ground because "there is something almost pleasant about being scared". She will have ample opportunity to be afraid and to stand firm.

Playing considerably important roles in Operator 13's adventures are two Confederate operatives working for Jeb Stuart. The main was is the handsome John Guilliard who will become not only a major nemesis to Loveless but also her lover so the relationship will be an interesting one with her wanting him to live and sometimes needing him to fail and possibly, regrettably, die.

Working closely with Guilliard is Vespasian Chancellor, a man for whom Loveless has considerably different and far less favorable opinion; she admits to herself that he was 'the only man of whom she really was afraid'.

Operator 13 will have many fascinating encounters during her impressive war-time career and will interact with many of the key players in that horrific war. Generals Lee and Stuart on the rebel side and Sheridan and Grant for the Union, not to mention a young General Custer for whom she 

Good Lines:
- Major Allen warns Gale Loveless, "The chief duty of the Spy is not to get caught."
- In response to the above, Loveless observes, "Yes. It rather puts an end to your usefulness, doesn't it."
- When Loveless first hears people in her new line of work referred to as operators, Major Allen explains, "Well, call them what the Court Martial calls them if they're unlucky enough to be caught: Spies."

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:1933
Last Appearance:1933

1 Secret Service Operator 13 Secret Service Operator 13
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

A collection of 12 stories previously published sequentially in the pages of monthly magazine Cosmopolitan, August 1932 to July 1933. The stories were:
1. Pretty Nigger
2. Skin Deep
3. Ring-Around-A-Rosie
4. Shadow Dance
5. Lady Green-sleeves
6. Fathoms Five
7. Counter-Spy
8. Ad Astra
9. Revolt!
10. John Gailliard Rides
11. Blonde and Black
12. End of the World

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:12
First Appearance:1932
Last Appearance:1933

       The adventures of Secret Service Operator 13, aka Gail Loveless, were published originally in the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine starting with her introduction in August of 1932. The stories continued uninterrupted in the next 12 issues, culminating in July of 1933. Later that year the book collecting all tales was released.

       The magazine versions were accompanied by some very impressive illustrations by noted artist Norman Price (1877-1951) whose artwork has found homes in museums and art galleries.
       Each adventure was subtitled with comments like 'A thrilling episode in the life of Operator 13" and the hero of the tales was referred to as 'The Mata Hari of the Civil War' and 'Our American Mata Hari'.

1 "Operator 13"
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1932

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, August 1932 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13 using the title Pretty Nigger.
Describes how Gail Loveless is accepted into the Secret Service and sent to the South to become part of Jeb Stuart's household servant staff. Her presence becomes vital to her mentor, friend and fellow spy, Pauline Cushman, when that woman is arrested for espionage and sentenced to hang!

2 Skin Deep Skin Deep
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1932

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, September 1932 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
As Gail Loveless gets further ingrained in the day-to-day activities of the nearby Confederate camp and sends more vital intel up North, spy-hunters John Guilliard and Vespasian Chancellor are on alert for who might be the spy in their midst who their own spies up north say is designated Operator 13. Guilliard, for his part, is more than a little enchanted by the pretty black slave.

3 Ring-Around-a-Rosie Ring-Around-a-Rosie
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1932

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, October 1932 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

4 Shadow Dance Shadow Dance
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1932

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, November 1932 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

5 Lady Green-sleeves Lady Green-sleeves
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1932

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, December 1932 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

6 Fathom Five Fathom Five
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, January 1933 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

7 Counter-Spy Counter-Spy
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, February 1933, and then published in the Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, February 1934, and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

8 Ad Astra Ad Astra
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, March 1933 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

9 Revolt! Revolt!
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, April 1933 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

10 John Gailliard Rides John Gailliard Rides
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, May 1933 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

11 Blonde And Back Blonde And Back
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, June 1933, then in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, July 1934, and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

12 The End Of The World The End Of The World
novella
Written by Robert W. Chambers
Copyright: 1933

First published under this name in Cosmopolitan, July 1933 and collected in Secret Service Operator 13.
[plot unknown]

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1934
Last Appearance:1934

1 Operator 13 Operator 13
Director: Richard Boleslawski
Writers: Harvey F. Thew, Zelda Sears, Eve Greene
Actors: Marion Davies as Gail Loveless, Gary Cooper as Capt. Jack Gailliard, Katharine Alexander as Pauline, Ted Healy as Dr. Hitchcock, The Mills Brothers as Medicine Show Singers
Released: 1934

Union spy Gail Loveless impersonates a black maid in the early days of the Civil War, but complications arise when she falls in love with a Confederate officer.

MY COMMENTS

I had no preconceived ideas about this series when I started it - well, none that I was consciously aware of - except for curiosity. I would not have immediately put Cosmo as a spy-fiction source - okay there is a preconception right there! - so I was intrigued - another one!

I was hooked from the very beginning. Gail Loveless, aka Operator 13, is a very nice young woman trying to be of service to not only the side of the War she believes in but also both her races. And then soon in the storyline there is the handsome enemy spy who she has to betray and then save and then ... well, you get the picture.

The movie version totally threw out the concept of a light-skinned Black woman impersonating a White woman and just went with the White woman from the beginning but it did do a good job of handling the whole spying on the South business. Plus it had Marion Davies and I could watch her do anything.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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