Celebrities and Mysteries

Steve Allen wrote 50 books, but none of the mysteries issued under his name.

Elliott Roosevelt’s mysteries starring his mother, Eleanor Roosevelt, as a detective in the White House, did so well that they are still appearing yearly although Elliott had the misfortune to die in 1990.

Margaret Truman doesn’t have a public ghost, but rumors persist that veteran celebrity ghostwriter Donald Bain (who ghostwrote a mystery for tv actor David Toma) writes her books.

Movie stars, tennis stars, supermodels, politicos, celebs of all types sign their names to mysteries.

So many that it should be a whole lot shorter and quicker to name the ones who really write their own books.

So here’s my exhaustive list:

I’m pretty sure Kinky Friedman writes his own.

Gypsy Rose Lee’s mystery The G-String Murders has long been credited to her press agent, mystery great Craig Rice, but Rice’s biographer says it ain’t so and that Lee really wrote the book herself.

E. Howard Hunt was a prolific author of paperback spy novels before getting caught up in Watergate.

A couple of other Washington insiders (and their wives) have put out novels, some of which may be mysteries.

And that’s it. The whole list as I know it.

Are there any others who have committed (literary) murders with their own hands?

P.S. I’m limiting this to mysteries because I don’t think there are any celebrities who have ever written any science fiction - it’s all ghosted.

Ron Ely? Stephen Collins? Do they write their own stuff?

Sir Rhosis

There’s celebrity for you. Not only didn’t I recognize their names as novelists, I didn’t recognize their names as actors either. Had to look them up.

Do they write their own? Not a clue, so to speak.

Okay, I think his name was Steven Bogart but I could be wrong–at any rate, his last name was Bogart, son of Humphrey and Lauren. Wrote at least one mystery featuring a PI who was the son of very famous parents. Not great, but not bad either. As far as I know he wrote it himself. I think there was only one.

I’m not sure if this qualifies because Steven Bogart is not a celebrity except by virtue of his famous parents, but the same could be said of Margaret Truman.

There’s Dick Francis and Dell Shannon. And didn’t Tony Curtis write a mystery?

Was Dick Francis famous as a jockey?

Steven Bogart’s book was ghostwritten. And in an ugly way.


Dick Francis is an interesting example, although his status was that of a minor celebrity at best. (Of course, if you believe the rumors, his wife did much of the actual writing - and it’s certainly true that he has announced that with her death he won’t be putting out any more books.)

I think you’re confusing Dell Shannon the mystery writer with Del Shannon the singer.

Tony Curtis is a possibility for Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow. I can’t find any background infomation about it at all, though.

Tracking it down did lead me to this Hollywood Book Page, with an oddball list of titles by “Screen Actors”.

On the Bogart book, the one I referred to is actually a mystery and not an autobiography. It’s called Play It Again. But if he couldn’t write the autobio, I doubt that he could write a mystery . . . Gary Provost probably wrote that one too.

I’m now remembering a mystery by a football player . . . a quarterback I think. As a football player he was outstanding but his career was short. Completely blanking on the name. The book was set in the world of pro or college football . . . can’t remember, I read a lot of books. And it was done well enough to make me professionally jealous, as I am a mystery writer but without the great hook of fame or athletic renown. Probably that’s why I’ve forgotten his name. What are the odds a football player wrote that? (Except Reggie Rivers, a former Denver Bronco, also has written a mystery, which he self-published. He writes a weekly column and it’s not bad and he does really write it himself – I’m sure if he had a ghost writer, he would not have had to self-publish the book.)

Not merely confused, but hopelessly lost. I’m embarassed to admit I always thought Dell Shannon the author was the same person as the singer.

Next you’ll be telling me that Heather Graham doesn’t write romance novels during the breaks on her movie sets.

Tim Green has written some Mysteries, he is a former NFL Player and a current NFL “color man” in the booth, usually for the B- games.

Since Heather’s a college dropout, who knows if she even reads romances during the breaks? :dubious:

And Cicada2003 I was too disgusted by that article to remember that it was talking about a biography. Bogart has two mystery novels out - the first is Remake: As Time Goes By - both written after the bio, so I don’t know what to make of them.

Like Bogart, Tim Green gets such weak reviews of his books that they could easily be his.

Sorry, this whole thread is for proof of the adage that publishers believe “anyone can write a mystery.” It doesn’t take real skill or writing ability. So far, it seems to be holding up.

Well, there was also The President’ s Mystery Story, a novel suggested by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and written by six popular mystery novelists – Rupert Hughes, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Anthony Abbot, Rita Weiman, S. S. Van Dyne, and John Erskine. It was serialized in Liberty magazine in 1935 and published in book form in 1936. Re-issued in 1967 with Arnold Roth illustrations as The President’s Mystery Plot.

Here’s the flap copy:

**On Sunday evening, May 12, 1935, the President of the United States was entertaining a few friends at an informal supper in the White House… .In the course of the evening, the talk turned to mystery thrillers… .Fulton Oursler asked whether the President had ever thought of writing a mystery himself.

Roosevelt chuckled and said “To tell you the truth, I have often thought about it. In fact, I have carried the plot for a mystery in my mind for years. But I can t find the solution to my own plot! And I’ve never found anyone else who could either.”

“How can a man disappear with five million dollars in any negotiable form and not be traced?”

“For years I have tried to answer that problem. In every method suggested, I have been able to find a flaw. The more you consider the question, the more difficult it becomes. Now–can you tell me how it can be done?”

Thus said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to his good friend Fulton Oursler, then editor of Liberty Magazine. “Suppose,” replied Oursler, “that we were to ask the leading writers of the United States to solve this problem. Why could they not all collaborate on a mystery story in which your problem is dramatized in the person of a man faced with this predicament?”

The President’s famous, joyous laugh responded, “That would be fun! Go ahead. See what you can all do with it.”

And that is just what Oursler did, going to the outstanding mystery writers of the day and challenging them to take “the President s mystery plot” and see what they could “do with it.” Each contributed a chapter to the mystery embroiling the central character, Jim Blake, in a series of seemingly insoluble situations, and then leaving him for the next author in line.

Out of this conversation came a unique event in publishing history–a “chain” mystery novel in which each chapter is written by a different major author of the day. But like Roosevelt, none of them was able to solve “the President’s mystery plot” and so it remained unsolved until P---- M---- entered the case.

Jim Blake was left hanging for thirty years, until Erle Stanley Gardner–in the person of P---- M---- came to his rescue, and the result is the volume you now hold in your hand. Wild adventure, zany humor, a truly absorbing mystery plot–plus Arnold Roth’s wild illustrations–all make this unique book highly entertaining, and, as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. says in his introduction, “a natural for the camp generation.”

The President s Mystery Plot is “high camp” entertainment at its best. If you like wild adventure, zany humor and a truly absorbing mystery plot–plus the pop-art illustrations of Arnold Roth–then The President’s Mystery Plot is for you.**