was in the radio plays Nikki got the full attention she so rightly deserved. Seen from
a radio making viewpoint
lead-actress seems practical (due to the "color" of a female voice) and, to me, this must have been equally as important as the romantic possibilities it offered. Nikki appeared in films, short stories, and novels, but was created for radio.
It's an "amazing" fact that each time we meet Nikki she has a different physical appearance and a different personal history. There are numerous "first" encounters between Nikki and Ellery. One of the main reasons, I feel, is the extra tension this adds to a "blossoming" relationship between two protagonists. If we hold into account books, radio and movies Nikki first met EQ in four different ways!
lthough she only appears
in a few books, she seems a intricate
Her original name was Sheila Potts (with her mother's last name) or Sheila Brent (with her father's last name)...and she's extremely wealthy (millionaire). Despite this "handicap" she accepts Ellery's offer of becoming his secretary (with salary)... So Nikki wasn't her real name. She changed it on the advice of Ellery...First he asks her to change her identity to Susie McGargle from Kansas City. - She doesn't like the idea and then Ellery makes a second attempt (after a heroin from one of his books) "... N-i-k-k-i . The last name Dempsey didn't fit... Nikki Jones? Nikki Brown? Nikki Green? Nikki Keats? Nikki Lowell? Nikki Fowler? Yes it had to end with -er. Parker. Farmer. Porter...Porter. Nikki Porter that's it!"
She also stars in two Calendar-stories
as EQ's secretary and companion. Her last appearance she made in the
excellent Scarlet Letters
(1953). Here we learn that
Nikki spent her childhood in Kansas City and differs in several aspects from
the three other Nikki's. The radio story "The Adventure of the
Lost Child" (Nov 26. 1939)
states Kansas City as the place where Harvey Morrell, an old friend of her
family, came from. Whilst in
There Was an
Old Woman (1943)
her family is in New York, where she was born.
he figure 'Nikki' appears several times in some or other form. Throughout the years the female co-star in the books had, more or less, Nikki qualities... As any Queen-addict will tell you this wasn't by far Ellery's only real love interest. Under pressure of the buying public Ellery had to get more and more romantically involved. This seemed especially important since they wanted to make it in Tinseltown.
We shouldn't forget
Inspector Thumm's daughter, Patience from the
(1933). Here the writer
clearly intended Patience to take over the sleuthing from Drury Lane
himself... So Patience was perhaps a bit more self-conscious then Nikki every
was, but she came across equally sympathetic.
The reason for the small roles Nikki
or indeed all other women got may be simple enough... Ellery
wasn't really a typical ladies man
cousins themselves were
probably not. They thought of their plots and
stories to be a cerebral occupation which didn't leave much room for any affairs of the
for the portrayals we have several actresses both on radio,
As it appears not everyone was a fan as
the following paragraph taken from a letter dated March 20, 1943, written to
Fred Dannay by critic Anthony Boucher: "I don't like Nikki. It's partly
the voice, but also the character itself. She's too damned chipper. She
affects me like those people who are bright-eyed and gay the next day while
you have the grandfather of all hangovers. I haven't seen Margaret Lindsay
play her, but I should guess that it's just what she deserves..."
The first actress to portray Nikki Porter (on radio). In "The Gum-Chewing Millionaire" she's a blonde professional typist who soon applies for the job of personal secretary. ... (click on picture for more)
she bounced between A and B pictures,
working with top leading men.
Her B-movies included the female lead in seven Ellery
(click on picture for more)
10/27/1915 - 10/31/1963
In 1945 Lee and Boucher thought Barbara was excellent as a girl who could do anything a script demanded. They even included more Nikki-Ellery interaction. ... (click on picture for more)
In 1945 following her successful radio appearances in Dangerously Yours (1944) and Matinee Theatre (1945) Trudy was picked to play Nikki Porter playing opposite Sydney Smith ... (click on picture for more)
Nikki in the 7th radio season of Ellery Queen (1946-1947). She reprised the role, in '48, when Ford Theatre re-ran a first season episode "Bad Boy", and again in the 1954-56 television series. ... (click on picture for more)
When Kaye replaced Virginia as Nikki Porter in 1948 she was already married to Manfred B. Lee. ... (click on picture for more)