Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dollar Books part III - Brian Fox

Dollar author Brian Fox was actually born Willis Todhunter Ballard on December 13, 1903 in Cleveland, Ohio. After trying to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an electrical engineer. He realized he did not like working for anyone and found himself quickly fired from every job he took. He found he had a way with words and so he took jobs as a staff writer for Warner Brothers and Columbia in the early 1920s. Often going uncredited and going nowhere he began his writing career in 1927 and since then produced over 100 novels and over 50 movie and television screenplays and stories. He wrote over 1000 short stories and novelettes which appeared in pulp magazines and elite publications such as The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, This Week and McCalls. Known for his Westerns and mystery novels, he was a major crime writer for Black Mask creating the character Bill Lennox, with a long, prolific career, often fast, sometimes proto-hardboiled, frequently complicated, usually slick and with human warmth. After World War II he turned to writing western novels exclusively and turned out an amazing 78 books. He was past vice-president of the Western Writers of America. He never won any MWA award, although he did capture the 1965 Western Writers of America Spur Award for his novel ‘Gold in California’ (1965). In the 1970s he retired to Florida and passed away on December 27, 1980 in Mt. Dora, Florida. Ballard used a number of aliases such as Brian Agar, P D Ballard, W.T. Ballard, Parker Bonner, Sam Bowie, Walt Bruce, Hunter D'Allard, Brian Fox, John Grange, Harrison Hunt (with Norbert Davis), John Hunter, Neil MacNeil, Clint Reno, John Shepherd, Jack Slade, Clay Turner. As Brian Fox he turned out the Dollar book ‘A Dollar to Die For’.


  1. He also took on the epic job of adapting THE WILD BUNCH novelization, and not too bad, either.

  2. Great info about these novelizations. Of the three writers you blogged about, which one would you say best captures the mood/atmosphere of the spaghetti westerns? Frank Chandler, Brian Fox, or Joe Millard?

  3. Tough question since it has been years since I've read them. I would eliminate Chandler since he just published the Fistful of Dollars screenplay with a preface about the Man With No Names beginnings. Both Millard and Fox have a good feeling for the characters and when you read their books you can pick out which characters are Van Cleef and Wallach even though they aren't called or playing Mortimer/Angel Eyes or Tuco.

    1. Apachito, Bandera and Pachuco are described only by their body types, usually "squat". Other than that, there's next to nothing that hints towards who they're supposed to look like.