Frank Kane

Genres - Drama, Mystery

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Frank Kane was born in Brooklyn, NY, and graduated from City College. He attended St. John's Law School but gave up his studies when he became a father. Kane turned to writing, working as a columnist and editor for various small newspapers and trade journals, as well as doing public relations work for the liquor industry in Washington, D.C., lobbying to help end Prohibition during the late '20s. He later had a column called "New York From Dusk To Dawn," which was turned into a radio show that Kane hosted. The jump to the airwaves was followed by Kane's career; he was soon writing for most of the best crime series and thrillers on radio, including Gang Busters, The Fat Man, The Shadow, and Nick Carter, Master Detective, and created the series Call the Police and Claims Agent. In 1947, Kane introduced the detective Johnny Lidell in the mystery novel About Face. Lidell became an extremely popular character in a series of books published over the next 20 years.

Often writing under the name Frank Boyd, Kane generated more than three dozen novels -- which sold millions of copies and were translated into more than a dozen languages -- in addition to hundreds of short stories, most featuring Lidell. Although he was never able to bring the character to movies or television, Kane made the transition to the small screen, writing for the Mike Hammer series starring Darren McGavin and other, lesser known, shows. He also wrote several book adaptations of television series, including The Line-Up and Johnny Staccato. His 1956 novel Key Witness was, amazingly, licensed by MGM -- a most improbable studio for this kind of subject -- and turned into a harrowing 1960 movie by director Phil Karlson starring Jeffrey Hunter, Patricia Crowley, and Dennis Hopper. The film was a savage account of juvenile delinquency and witness intimidation, although it lacked the complexity or the racial sensibilities of the novel. The thugs, except one, are all white in the movie (which is set in Los Angeles, not New York like the book), while in the book they're depicted as all black, and as knowing how to manipulate white people with claims of racism. Kane later formed his own publishing and production company, through which he hoped to produce his own television shows and films. He died in 1968.