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FINISHING STROKE

Manfred started to play a more and more active role in
Roxbury's civic live and served a term as justice of the peace there. Tragedy kept haunting Fred as his wife Hilda gave birth to their only child in 1948, the child suffering brain damage at birth would not be able to walk or talk. Stephen Dannay died six years old. We now find the ground of some birth-themes in Queen -novels as
Cat of Many Tails
(1949).

On a 63 acre estate Manny raised his children, looked after his animals and collected stamps, medals and records. He worked in his study in a converted colonial schoolhouse on his grounds.  The cousins at their writing-peak then wrote
Ten Day's Wonder
(1948), Cat of Many Tails (1949) and Origin of Evil (1951). After Lee married the cousins rarely visited each other. As they frequently phoned each other their writing methods were unorthodox. Unlike many detective writers who habitually start with the solution of the crime and work backwards, Dannay and Lee begin most any place, developing their plots from such random starting points as an exceptionally unusual clue, a remarkable suspect or a strange background.

                       Publicity shot of the Ellery Queen team (after 1949).
Above: publicity shot of the Ellery Queen team (after 1949)

The Queen collaboration evolved over time. "Clash of personalities is good for the ultimate product. And we fight like hell. We’re not so much collaborators as competitors. It’s produced a sharper edge."(Schenker) According to Dannay, they tried "every form of collaboration known to man" before they settled on a system that suited them. They refused to discuss their system, but in years since, their children have revealed that Fred plotted all the novels and short stories, creating the characters and providing Lee with detailed skeletons that Manfred fleshed out. Their talents determined this arrangement. "I'm sure Dad could never have come up with the sort of plots Fred did"  son Rand Lee said in an interview. In any event, the collaboration, though loyal, was not always peaceful; the cousins frequently raged at each other, and that passion can be seen in some of the books. Rand Lee continued: "... Dad and Fred's differences were not only professional. Often I would pick up the phone, hoping the line was free, and put down the receiver moments later with Dad and Fred's arguing voices in my ears. On one occasion, Dad threw down a plot outline and exclaimed, "He gives me the most ridiculous characters to work with and expects me to make them realistic!" Cousin Fred probably felt some frustration about Dad's treatment of his plots...."
The fact that they continued together may be as simple as "they needed each other to create".

"The three biggest writing principles Dad taught me were (1) read omnivorously, (2) write every day, (3) and when you’ve finished your first draft, go back and cut out all the adjectives and adverbs, including adjectival and adverbial phrases and clauses. Then, on the second draft, put back in only those absolutely necessary to carry your meaning.

  "Ellery Queen" in a Ballantine' s add (1952).
Above left: Lee and  Dannay looking at photo negatives for Ellery Queen covers (Photo: Mark Kauffman, Jun 1. 1952).
Above right: "Ellery Queen" in a Ballantine' s add (1952)


"The Golden Summer" - coverAt least one book was published under his birth name, Daniel Nathan. As a sort of therapy for the impending dead of his son. It is the fictional memoir of his boyhood. The Golden Summer was published in 1953 and the publisher (Little, Brown) wanted to reveal the connection to Queen, recognizing that it would help sales. But Dannay declined, preferring that the book stand on its own. Of course, Little, Brown was correct: the Ellery Queen association is as important for sales today as it was in 1953. 

In 1958 the wrote their Finishing Stroke intended it to be their last and closing off a period. Fred sold his collection of short stories to the University of Texas and even for two semesters found himself on campus as a professor of creative writing.
The following period was one where mostly they made money from their creation, "new" stories were often revamped old ones or ghostwritten by others. This fourth series of Ellery Queen stories indicates that the author is still willing to experiment with the strict deductive tradition. It tended to return to puzzle aspects, setting the mysteries in artificial, restricted environments, and explorations of new facets of themes Queen had dealt with in earlier books. Close reading of the Ellery Queen stories reveals a number of recurring themes, besides the obvious devices of fair play and the dying message. Nevins suggests at least 25, although the number may vary according to how you make distinctions between devices.

In the late 60s Manfred suffered a series of heart attacks which forced him to lose a great deal of weight. Furthermore among other psychological ailments he suffered writer's block. Science-fiction writers Theodore Sturgeon and Avram Davidson were brought in unaccredited to turn the Dannay outlines into new Queen novels. The other non-Queen novels who were farmed out and revised by Lee only added to the confusion.

       Part of the group who gathered at a reception in President's Cramer's home after the ceremony. Around Fred, seated, with his wife Rose at his left, are from left to right: Steve Stilwell, Al Hubin, Mike Nevins, Marilyn Hubin, Don and Marge Pendleton, Ned and Cathy Guymon, Randy Cox, Bob Fish and John Ball. Fred receiving the hood of his honorary doctorate at Caroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Above left: Part of the group who gathered at a reception in President's Cramer's home after the ceremony. Around Fred, seated, with his wife Rose at his left, are from left to right: Steve Stilwell, Al Hubin, Mike Nevins, Marilyn Hubin, Don and Marge Pendleton, Ned and Cathy Guymon, Randy Cox, Bob Fish and John Ball.
Above right: Fred receiving the hood of his honorary doctorate at Caroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
(1979)


On April 3, 1971 Lee died of another attack on the way to the hospital in New Milford. Fred wanted to continue writing Queen novels either alone of with someone else but faith hadn't forgotten him. In 1972 his second wife Hilda also died of cancer and now Fred, who had diabetes, also started to die. Still editing EQMM kept him going on. Fred began dating a woman he had known for a long time, and she too was diagnosed with cancer.

          Fred Dannay in 1973, the year after Hilda's death.America's master crime solver, Frederic Dannay lurks between the covers of every Ellery Queen mystery (March 1979).
Above left: Fred Dannay in 1973, the year after Hilda's death.
Above right: America's master crime solver, Frederic Dannay lurks between the covers of every Ellery Queen mystery (March 1979).

 

In came Rose Koppel who had been widowed for less than a
year when she was invited to attend a New Year’s Eve party in Larchmont, New York and was introduced to the only unattached man at the gathering, Fred Dannay. They connected and began dating almost immediately. It was only somewhat later in their courtship that he told her that Picture from the cover of "My Life with Ellery Queen, A Love Story" by Rose Koppel Dannay.he was better known under the pen name of Ellery Queen. They were married in November 1975 at New York’s Plaza Hotel, although the marriage almost had to be postponed when the rabbi scheduled to perform the ceremony suddenly died of a heart attack.(Nevins)

Right: Picture from the cover of My Life with Ellery Queen, A Love Story by Rose Koppel Dannay.

She saved him and for the last years he enjoyed the media-exposure to the fullest. This included the first of two trips to Japan where they were invited as guest of Fred's Japanese publisher Kozo Igarashi. "The absolute unexpected adoration, adulation and hero worship that greeted him in Japan was entirely beyond what he imagined or expected. It was a fitting reward for him." (Rose Koppel, 2016)

After having appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, in May 1978, Fred made a trip to Israel in October. His interest sparked by And On the Eighth Day and Rose could tell he had emotional reactions to seeing the scrolls and documents of second-century findings at Masada and the Qumran cave because of their connections to his book.

Fred also appeared as himself, in December 1978 in two TV episodes of the 6 part BBC documentary Crime Writers directed by Douglas Argent. The 25 minute episodes are called "Murder for Pleasure" (with Stanley Ellin, Brian Garfield, Denis Healey) and "Puzzles, Pure and Complex" (with Patricia Hodge, P.D. James, Julian Symons and Colin Watson). Although the series was published as book Crime Writers: Reflections on Crime Writing by H.R.F. Keating, Dannay however was not in it.


Early 1979 at the Lotus Club in New York an Ellery Queen fiftieth birthday party was held, celebrating the anniversary of The Roman Hat Mystery. Some 130 persons attended. Fred enjoyed the experience thoroughly but also pointed out his sadness that Manny Lee wasn't there to share the honor and pleasure.

 On April 17, 1979  Fred was given the honorary doctorate "Doctor of Humane Letters" at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Later that year Fred and Rose were invited to attend the Tokyo premiere of the Japanese movie Calamity Town, to their surprise the trip also included a visit to Bangkok. They returned via London where for the last leg of their return flight home they took Concorde.

On June 15. 1981 Fred and Rose attended the third Crime Writers' International Congress which was held in Stockholm. The international jury, with Fred in it, chose the unknown Frank Sisk, a 65 year old American journalist, as winner in the short-story competition with "A visit with Montezuma".  Which not only resulted in a publication but also an automobile. Mr. Sisk drove through the Connecticut Valley with his contest prize, an $18,000 Saab 900 Turbo. Many other detective writers attended. In the picture below of the attending writers they are just visible in the back (click on the picture below for a bigger view).

On June 15. 1981 Fred and Rose attended the third Crime Writers' International Congress which was held in Stockholm. Many detective writers attended. In the picture below of the attending writers they are just visible in the back (click on the picture for a bigger view).
Fred and Rose attending the Crime Writers' International Congress in Stockholm.An investigation from 1981 aboard a Swedish ship. L to R: Hillary Waugh, Peter Lovesey, Desmond Bagley, Dorothy B Hughes, Julian Symons and Fred Dannay (a.k.a. Ellery Queen). Peter Lovesey believes the "victim" was Carolyn, the former wife of Otto Penzler, owner of the Mysterious Bookshop, New York.
Above left: Fred and Rose attending the Crime Writers' International Congress in Stockholm.
Above right: At the congress they were given a day trip by ship to Åland on Saturday June 20, 1981. A photo shoot was arranged some time on the trip
. L to R: Hillary Waugh, Peter Lovesey, Desmond Bagley, Dorothy B Hughes, Julian Symons and Fred Dannay (a.k.a. Ellery Queen). Peter Lovesey believes the "victim" was Carolyn, the former wife of Otto Penzler, owner of the Mysterious Bookshop, New York. (Courtesy of Peter Lovesey).


After his 75th birthday he began to deteriorate quickly. All in all he would be hospitalized several times. The last time after becoming ill two week earlier while at Fire Island and returning to his Larchmont home. After this third hospitalization that 1982 he died on September 3. Fred, who had diabetes, died off natural causes in the White Plains Hospital.

Kaye Lee Brinker died in 1991 in a hospital in Cork City, Ireland.

In 2010 Rose Dannay self-published her autobiography, My Life With a Man of Mystery: The Love Story of Ellery Queen and Me.  (republished in 2015 as My Life with Ellery Queen, A Love Story
with an introduction by Mike Nevins.) An article by Tina Chandler had this to say: "Maybe it’s her life experience, but Dannay knows some of what scientists have been working hard to discover—the secrets to happiness.  A self-described naturally happy person, Rose Dannay loved going out with her famous, but rather private, husband. When he received invitations, “He kept saying ‘no,’ and I kept saying ‘yes.’..."

Just as Rose provided Fred with a wonderful life, he, in turn, provided her with experiences she had never had before. After he died, she was still revered by the Japanese EQ Fans (who often referred to her as "Mrs. Queen") and she was the guest of honor at the wedding of the daughter of Fred's Japanese publisher. In 2014 Rose Dannay celebrated her 100th birthday throughout the month of September. At that time Fred's Japanese publicist paid her a visit, which reportedly pleased her greatly.
Rose lived in her NYC apartment for 61 years and above her favorite chair in the living room hung a beautiful portrait of Fred that she painted.

Mrs. Dannay passed away December 6. 2014. She was 100 years, 3 months, 2 days old.

 

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