Bruce Cassiday

Writer with as many talents as pseudonyms

Bruce Bingham Cassiday, writer and editor: born Los Angeles 25 January 1920; married 1950 Doris Galloway (one son, one daughter); died Stamford, Connecticut 12 January 2005.

The American writer Bruce Cassiday was a multi-talented producer of popular fiction, hard-boiled suspense and espionage tales, carefully crafted Gothics (a literary sub-genre that needs a firm hand on its inevitably Byzantine plots), medical melodramas and television novelisations, as well as "How to" tomes on lawns and landscaping, home carpentry, solar houses, dieting, and a number of ghosted biographies (only a few of which he owned up to).

He was one of the brains behind a $10,000-prize "Murder Game" novel, and compiled and edited a number of scholarly yet reader-friendly guides to detective, mystery and science fiction, including an excellent trawl through the art of ratiocination in mystery fiction before Sherlock Holmes, Roots of Detection (1983).

Cassiday's own roots lay firmly in the pulps, though not in any negative sense. He was one of the last generation of writers who not only read and enjoyed the enormous variety of pulp magazines as they were being produced, but saw them as a useful as well as entertaining entry into the writing business.

He had been a staffer with Henry Steeger's "Popular Publications" - an outfit which, back in the 1930s, was (with Street & Smith, and Ned Pines's "Thrilling" group) one of the top three pulp publishers in the United States - throwing himself into his editorial chores with unbridled enthusiasm, and grasping instantly that readers, above all else, appreciated an attention-grabbing title. Some of Cassiday's own titles - Chain-Gang Gun Moll, Brush Babe's Poison Pallet (about a homicidal artist) and Hellcat of Homicide Highway - are certainly eye-catching enough, almost attaining the surreal; the stories aren't bad, either.

Bruce Cassiday was born in 1920 in Los Angeles, growing up there, as well as in Alaska and Hawaii, where his father was chief architect of the Honolulu city hall. Later he became an architect for RKO Studios in Hollywood and from him Cassiday acquired a lifelong love of building and carpentry.

After high school, he took an English course at UCLA, graduating with highest honours before joining the US Army Air Force during the Second World War. He served in the North African and Italian theatres of war as well as, later, in the West Indies and Puerto Rico.

Back in civvy street, Cassiday was attracted to popular fiction, first of all writing for radio drama series such as Grand Central Station and the immensely popular Suspense show, before turning his typewriter in the direction of the pulps. At one stage, as an editor for the "Popular" line, he was handling two crime and four western pulps simultaneously, processing manuscripts by some of the giants of the pulp era - D.L. Champion, Hugh Cave, John D. Macdonald, Day Keene and Steve Fisher among them, as well as the early stories of the young Louis L'Amour.

In 1954 Cassiday became fiction editor for Argosy, for which, among other tasks, he selected, edited and condensed the magazine's monthly "book bonus". He also conducted a regular "home workshop" feature which became gratifyingly popular, and much later led to his writing a number of useful guides including Practical Home Repair for Women: your questions answered (1966) and The Carpenter's Bible (1981). He also collaborated with his wife Doris on Fashion Industry Careers (1977) and Careers in the Beauty Industry (1978).

When Argosy folded, Cassiday went freelance, during the 1970s writing all kinds of paperback fiction under a variety of pseudonyms, most demonstrating his delightfully dry sense of humour. On a couple of occasions he was Annie Laurie McAllister (he had an affection for the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and Scotland in general), and as Annie Laurie McMurdie he managed to sell a Gothic, Nightmare Hall, to Lancer Books before the firm crashed, and another Gothic, The Diabolist, as Mary Ann Drew (say it fast). He wrote a kung-fu thriller, The Year of the Cock, as C.K. Fong, undoubtedly recalling that the great W.C. Fields had once pronounced the word "Fong" as euphonious, using it as one of his own bizarre pseudonyms.

All his career Cassiday was happy to collaborate: with Waltraud Woeller on The Literature of Crime and Detection: an illustrated history from antiquity to the present (1988), for instance, and with Dieter Wuckel on The Illustrated History of Science Fiction (1989). With his long-time colleague Bill Adler he wrote the prize "whodunit" Murder Game (1991 - "There's a $10,000 reward for solving the crime; it could be yours!"), an entertaining biography of the talk-show host Jay Leno, The World of Jay Leno (1992), and Murder on the Internet (1999), which proved to be the last book he finished before the onset of the affliction, Parkinson's disease, that finally cut short his productive life.

Jack Adrian

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape