Peter O'Donnell

Born - Apr 11, 1920   |   Died - Jan 1, 2010   |   Genres - Comedy, Spy Film, Action

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For a time in the 1960s and '70s, Peter O'Donnell bid fair to be the next Ian Fleming, and although he didn't quite get there, he did alright with his best-known creation, Modesty Blaise. Born in 1920, O'Donnell began his writing career in 1936, and served in the British Army's Royal Signal Corps from 1938-1945. He resumed his writing career in 1946 by scripting comic strips, and later wrote for romance and women's magazines. In 1963, at just around the time that Fleming was succumbing to cancer, O'Donnell published his Modesty Blaise comic strip, which went Fleming's James Bond one better -- the Modesty Blaise books were filled with sex and violence, and featured a female protagonist. Raised in a gambling house by a man of many quasi-legal trades, Modesty is a hard-hitting, hard-loving heroine with a libido as big as Bond's and the martial arts skills to match. A series of novels followed in due course, all filled with liberal doses of sex and sadism, and there was a flawed film adaptation made of the character by director Joseph Losey. A proposed television series got as far as the pilot stage in the 1970s, but it wasn't until 2003 that an introductory film, My Name Is Modesty, was made, which may yet get the character to the big screen successfully. Oddly enough, O'Donnell has also written ten very successful romance novels under the name "Madeleine Brent." O'Donnell, who had been looking for someone to take over the writing of Modesty Blaise during the 1990s, retired from doing the comic strip in 2001.