- 27 ratings
- February 1st 1982
by Gregg Pr
(first published 1927)
Carroll John Daly
- Date of birth: September 14, 1889
- Died: January 16, 1958
- Born: in New York, The United States.
- Description: With a single screen writing credit to his name, Carroll John Daly is an unlikely mention as being the originator of the private eye... but he just might be. And he was, by contemporary accounts, a strange guy; born in Yonkers, New York in 1889, he most certainly was neurotic, agoraphobic and had a severe fear of dentists. These considerable obstacles to a conventional career were fortuitously offset by the genetic good fortune of having a sympathetic wealthy uncle who encouraged his writing efforts. Daly began to make a name for himself in the nickel and dime pulps in the early 1920s. He was 33 when he managed to get published in the fledgling Black Mask. His character Terry Mack is significant as the first tough-talking private eye (debuting in May, 1923) ever to appear in the pulp genre. Daly's characterization was pretty crudely drawn and he quickly created another character in the same vein, the twin-toting .45 gumshoe Race Williams. Black Mask hired a visionary editor, Joe "Cap" Shaw in 1926, who almost immediately took an intense dislike to Daly's one-dimensional writing style. Shaw conceded to his popularity for the time being, while methodically building up a stable of far greater writing talent. Criticism aside, Daly's 'The Snarl of the Beast' (1927) has the distinction as being acknowledged as the first private eye novel ever published. As Joe Shaw groomed other writers, contemporary critics began to condemn Daly, accusing him of subverting the morals of society and bemoaning the quality of his writing. The mind-numbing void the Race Williams character filled in Black Mask became less important in the early 1930s as the magazine featured vastly superior stories written by the likes of Raoul Fauconnier Whitfield and John K. Butler. Daly and Shaw argued continually over the quality of Daly's writing, and to a lesser extent money and to the delight of Joe Shaw, Daly walked off the magazine in late 1934. Daly would sporadically reappear in Black Mask after Shaw left the publication in 1936, but would fade into obscurity, ending his writing career ignobly by writing comic book dialog. He died in 1958, unappreciated and virtually forgotten by those working in the genre he largely helped create.
* Complete list of his short stories.