Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #20

The first Nancy Drew movie to be produced, Nancy Drew...Detective in 1938 was loosely based on The Password to Larkspur Lane. Nancy Drew was played by Bonita Granville and Ned Nickerson became Ted Nickerson--played by Frankie Thomas. The movie played up some of the drama in the book and maid Effie was especially comical and dramatic--even causing Ted to tackle Nancy's father, Carson Drew, who was locked out of the house. Nancy and Ted thought he was a burglar snooping in the bushes. Effie had barricaded the door shut with furniture.

In the movie, Nancy gets Ted too pool their (mostly his) money to rent a plane so she can take aerial photographs of the area in order to locate the "nursing home" that the missing Mrs. Eldridge is being held at. Instead of Helen in the book version, it is Ted who dresses up as a nurse to help Nancy gain entrance into the mysterious place--dressing in drag for comedy. And Nancy fires a gun like a crazy woman in the end before passing out.

Nancy was much more ditzy in the movie than in the book, but these movies were campy and fun aside from that, so you have to take them for what they are.

Some books advertised the movie with this wrapper seen below:

Here's a sample lobby card below from the lobby card gallery at my website:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #19

25 of the original Nancy Drew books were illustrated by commercial illustrator, Russell H. Tandy from 1930 to 1949. These include the original art dust jackets for volumes 1-10, 12-26 as well as the internal illustrations for volumes 1-26. The original cover for book #11 is a mystery--likely not Tandy.

Tandy had been illustrating some of the books for Edward Stratemeyer's Books for Girls series. It was Stratemeyer, in the planning of his soon to be published Nancy Drew series, who submitted the cover illustration of two artists to Grosset & Dunlap: Ernest Townsend's dust jacket art for Two Girls and a Mystery, 1928, and Tandy's dust jacket art for Kate Martin's Problem, 1929. Both covers are shown below.


Grosset & Dunlap chose Tandy as the illustrator for the Nancys--a wise choice indeed, for it was Tandy's classic and sophisticated portrayal of Nancy that helped make the series sell quite successfully. Nancy below and Kate above are very similar.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #18

The 2007 Nancy Drew Movie from Warner Brothers featured a very neat intro that showed scenes - like line drawings from the books - and these were based on some of the classic Nancy Drew books in part. Also in the end credits they morphed line drawings with real movie scenes which was fun. Here are some images from the credits.


Saturday, April 04, 2015

Nancy Drew Books: Scary Things Kids (& Adults) Do #63

Someone wanted to make sure we know this was volume #13 in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. So, they wrote it on the cover! And then they underlined it too for good measure! Then they worried that someone might not get a clue, so they added a sticker with the number 13. And naturally for extra good measure, they underlined that one too!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #17

Prolific illustrator Joseph Rudolph Nappi - known to fans of Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys as Rudy Nappi, passed away at the age of 92 on March 13, 2015, preceded in death by his wife Peggy just a few days prior. 

Rudy was our guest of honor at our 2010 Nancy Drew 80th Anniversary Convention in Florida - both at our "land" convention on Merritt Island and then on our "sea" convention on a cruise to the Bahamas. They were both so friendly and kind to fans and seemed to have a very good time chatting about his illustration career.

We presented him with our highest honor, the Nancy Drew Sleuths Honorary Sleuth Award.

He illustrated many of the classic Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books. His first Nancy Drew cover was for book #30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask, published in 1953. He would go on to do original first art covers for books 30-34, go back and revise covers for books 1-5 and 8-34 and then did the original/only art covers for books 35-56 from 1953 to 1979. Here are the first and last Nancy Drew covers he painted.


Here are 2 original Nancy Drew paintings produced by Rudy Nappi for book 2 The Hidden Staircase and book 33 The Witch Tree Symbol:

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #16

Carolyn Keene was also a man--briefly--Navy man Walter Karig was one of three men who ghosted the classic first 56 hardcover Nancy Drews from 1930 to 1979. Karig ghosted three of the Nancy Drew books during the early 1930s.

Karig ghosted original twenty-five-chapter versions of books 8 Nancy's Mysterious Letter, 9 The Sign of the Twisted Candles, and 10 The Password to Larkspur Lane.

In these volumes, there was more attention paid to Nancy's roadster and how she skillfully drove it--very descriptive and interestingly there was also more attention paid to her clothing and shopping than in ghostwriter Mildred Wirt Benson's Nancy Drew books that she wrote for the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Villains were also more comic and bumbling at times in Karig's books such as the portrayal of villain Frank Semitt in Twisted Candles.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #15

The Tophams

Richard, Cora and snooty spoiled children Ada and Isabel Tophams were Nancy’s first adversaries. Skinflint Richard and his social climbing wife Cora scheme to get Josiah Crowley to write a will in their favor in The Secret of the Old Clock. Ada laments about Nancy, “She always did have a way of nosing into things she had no business to find out!” 

Let's take a look at the villains in The Secret of the Old Clock. Compared to villains like Bushy Trott in The Secret of the Old Attic or even Stumpy Dowd in The Bungalow Mystery, how do they rate on your list of super dastardly Nancy Drew villains?

We learned Nancy Drew had 2 rivals or enemies--the Topham sisters. She gets back at them when Ada breaks a bowl in a department store and she certainly works (especially more so in the original version) at bringing them down a peg or two throughout the story. Of course, the Tophams come across so miserably not only in their characterization and Nancy's opinion of them but in their actions like the bowl incident, the dress shopping incident, and their comments in the park that Nancy overhears, so we feel they deserve it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nancy Drew Logo Apparel & Gifts at Cafe Press

New Nancy Drew logos on dozens of new products and styles as well as the usual products at our Nancy Drew Cafe Press Shop - celebrating the 85th Anniversary of Nancy Drew, the 110th Anniversary of The Stratemeyer Syndicate who created Nancy Drew, the 110th Anniversary of the first Carolyn Keene ghostwriter Mildred Wirt Benson, and the Nancy Drew Sleuths' 15th Anniversary plus our Nancy Drew Sleuths Logo and Mystery's IT Girl Logo. All officially licensed!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #14

Nancy Drew, Stratemeyer Syndicate, and series book enthusiasts and scholars attending the 2005 Nancy Drew 75th anniversary and 110th Syndicate anniversary Conference in NYC took a side tour to New Jersey to visit historical Stratemeyer Syndicate sites.

Included in the tour was a visit to the grave of the man who was behind it all - Edward Stratemeyer. His monument is quite a monument and features book spines in the design. It's quite fitting and the headstone reads, "With tender devotion we turn the last page...the final chapter closes leaving in young hearts the memory of fine ideals."

Edward was the genius behind many of your favorite series like Tom Swift, The Bobbsey Twins, The Rover Boys, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Though he passed away just about 2 weeks after the Nancy Drew series debuted in 1930, his daughters Harriet and Edna continued his legacy and the Stratemeyer Syndicate remained in business for another 54 years.

Members attending our Nancy Drew Mini Con #3 this June will get to visit this monument and pay our respects while we go on a literary tour of Syndicate related locations.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #13

December 2013 was a wintry cold month in Toledo - and several Nancy Drew Sleuths members traveled there for a somewhat bittersweet reason - for the estate auction of Nancy Drew author, Mildred Wirt Benson's daughter Peggy Wirt. The estate included items that were Benson's and that were related to her writing over 130 children's books including the Nancy Drew series. It was held at Montrie Auction & Estate Service by auctioneer Jade Montrie.

One item for auction that was available not just locally but in an online part of the auction, was her typewriter desk. You can see the same desk pictured above in her writing room, the photo used for a 1949 Toledo Times piece on her children's writing. No doubt this desk was used to pen the various books and series she wrote--how far back that goes, is speculation. She most certainly penned the last Nancy Drew book she wrote, #30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask, as it was written after the above photo was taken. She did write the first three Nancy Drew books with her typewriter set up on an old orange crate in the kitchen of her two-room apartment in Cleveland, OH.

I almost bid on the desk, but before I could get my paddle up it was over. I hesitated. I wasn't planning to bid because I figured it would sell too high for me to afford, but when it was stalling out at a little over $500, I started rethinking my decision but was too late to bid before I got my thoughts together. Not to mention, figuring out how to get it back home. If whomever bought it ever wants to sell it, FYI, contact me! The final selling price? $560.00.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #12

After one Hollywood attempt to bring Nancy Drew to life in the 1930s with a series of 4 Warner Brothers Nancy Drew films, Nancy Drew finally debuted on TV in 1977 with actress Pamela Sue Martin starring as Nancy Drew. She's the closest incarnation of a classic book characterization of Nancy Drew from all the various movies and TV show attempts over the years. This is one reason this was the most popular attempt at Nancy Drew--and it succeeded, for a short time anyhow. 

After a first season with separate Nancy Drew shows alternating with the Hardy Boys, in the second season, they began combining Nancy Drew with the Hardy Boys. That didn't sit well with Pamela, so she left the show eventually and was replaced by Janet Louise Johnson for a few shows before the character vanished from the rest of the season and was not in the third season.

While she wasn't blond like book Nancy, a rather superficial criticism at best, she did espouse the pluck, bravery and determination to solve a case no matter the odds that was so evocative of book Nancy. The mysteries also involved similar things to the books and were overall "safe and sane."

Got Clues? Hollywood: Anyone in the future creating a Nancy Drew movie or TV show, would be wise to remember that book Nancy is popular for a reason. After all, she's celebrating her 85th anniversary this year and is still in print! So, straying too far from that formula is unwise--and this has consistently been proven time and time again with all the failures of trying to bring Nancy Drew to TV or movies over the years. Each and every time, outside of the 1970s TV show, that a new attempt at bringing Nancy Drew to TV or movies has been done, someone has used their "creative license" (as in, hey let's screw it up why don't we!) to muck it up and fans have not supported it overall. Bottom line: You can't radically change the character or the formula and expect any success. Further, you can't have a successful TV show or movie without most of the fan base supporting it.

Who else, for something so specific and niche as a character like Nancy Drew, is going to be your target audience for a TV show or movie? Hmm, to clue you in, that would be...Nancy Drew fans! And for further clues, why are there Nancy Drew fans? That's right, because of the popular series of mystery books and games out there. It's not rocket science, Hollywood! :-)