Biographical Information:

Dates: 1903-1967Dates in Ridgefield: 1934-1950s
fiction, detective stories, short stories
In 1955, Frederick Nebel marked the 25th anniversary of his career as a full-time freelance writer. "In that quarter century," The Ridgefield Press said, "he has, by his own estimate, pounded out more than 4,000,000 words on his three typewriters -- in the form of novels, novelettes, short stories, and articles." Many of those words were for some of the classic "pulp" magazines of the 20s and 30s, such as Black Mask and Dime Detective. He and his friend, Dashiel Hammett, were leading producers of the noir style of hard-boiled detective tales. Seven of his stories were turned into Hollywood films, and many more movies sprang from characters he'd originated. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Louis Frederick Nebel was born in 1903 and dropped out of school at the age of 15. He worked on the docks, sailed on tramp steamers and worked as a farmer in northern Canada until he was in his early 20s and began to write. His first story appeared in Black Mask in 1926 and he soon created the MacBride and Kennedy series about a police detective and a hard-drinking newspaper reporter. He later sold the rights to Hollywood, which turned the boozing Kennedy into a newspaper reporter named Torchy Blane, and seven movies -- not involving Nebel -- resulted. Despite his output, he wrote only three novels; today editions are so prized that copies of Sleepers East, But Not the End, or Fifty Roads to Town, fetch as much as $1,200. After he and his wife, Dorothy, came here in 1934, his popularity continued to rise and he began writing for "slick" magazines such as Collier’ss. Unlike many writers and artists who've lived here, Mr. Nebel became active in the community. During World War II, he was a member of the War Price and Ration Board and later served as one of the first members of the Zoning Board of Appeals -- including stints as its chairman. However, in the late 1950s, he became ill and the Nebels moved to Laguna Beach, Calif. He died of a stroke in 1967 at the age of 63. "While Nebel's work is not as well known as his good friend Hammett and while much of his early work has not been reprinted, he deserves to be read and reread as a hero of pulpdom," said Hugh Lessig, a writer and student of the "hardboiled pulps."
Titles (partial):Sleepers East, 1933But Not the End, 1934Fifty Roads to Town, 1936Six Deadly Dames, 1950The Adventures of Cardigan, 1988
--Sources: Notable Ridgefielders–Jack Sanders; www.thrillingdetective.com