Based on the violent novels of Mickey Spillane, television producers did nothing to tone down the brutality or overt sexism of the original pulp fiction capers in the first series, produced between 1957 and 1959, which starred Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) nor in the later version (1984 - 87) starring Stacy Keach.
Hammer was a wisecracking anti-hero who lived tough in a tough world of murderers, kidnappers, drug dealers and extortionists. He had few friends. The best of these was a .45 caliber pistol that he nicknamed Betsy. Assistance came from his source on the street, Ozzie the Answer (Danny Goldman) and some officers from the NYPD, but by and large Hammer relied on his own streetwise experience and quick wits.
One strand that ran through the later series was the appearance in every episode of a mystery woman, known as 'The Face' because she was only ever seen from the neck up, who always mysteriously disappeared before Hammer could meet her. A planned 1985 episode (titled "The Face") would have resolved the mystery had Stacey Keach not been arrested in England for cocaine possession and sentenced to six months imprisonment at Reading Jail. Eventually, another series was made, retitled The New Mike Hammer and in the final episode Hammer met 'The Face', who rather lamely turned out to be an author who was following him so she could fictionalise his exploits in a series of detective novels!
Published on January 4th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.