Howard Handupme gets Hammett's name wrong

Nick and Nora Chicken on Sesame Street

Statler as Dashiell Chandler.

Philip Samuel Marlowe Spade.jpg

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), born Samuel Dashiell Hammett, was an American author whose name became synonymous with "hard-boiled" detective fiction. His best known creations were Sam Spade, the star of The Maltese Falcon, and Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man, all of whom gained greater fame through the many film and television adaptations and sequels.

The 1941 film of The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart is the best known cinematic adaptation of Hammett (though it was actually the third version), while The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective, with original scripts, ran on radio from 1946 through 1951. The Thin Man meanwhile was opened out into six movies between 1934 and 1947, and a comparable radio series (1941-1950). Other media adaptations were based on Hammett's novel The Glass Key and works starring the author's more obscure sleuth, the Continental Op (renamed and reimagined for each adaptation). While in Hollywood, Hammett also scripted the 1943 drama Watch on the Rhine, netting an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay.

A strong anti-fascist but also a known member of the Communist Party, Hammett was blacklisted in the 1950s, leading to the demise of the radio shows based on his works. It was only a temporary setback, however, as Spade and Nick and Nora remain iconic pop culture figures today.


  • Dog City relied heavily on both the atmosphere of Hammett's work and on spoofing specific characters and books.
  • Hammett's husband and wife team of Nick and Nora Charles were spoofed in Sesame Street Episode 3129 as the brother and sister sleuths Nick Chicken (played by Kevin Kline) and his adopted sibling Nora (a red chicken).
  • In the second part of the Dinosaurs story "Nuts to War", Howard Handupme reads the surnames of individuals targeted for disagreeing with the government's war reports. In addition to the likes of Jane Fonda and Frank Zappa, the list mostly consists of people blacklisted during the McCarthy era, including Hammett (whose name is misspelled "Hammet") and Lillian Hellman, Hammett's lover.
  • Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony episode 33 featured a film noir spoof, with Statler as Dashiell "Dash" Chandler, whose name is an amalgam of Chandler and Hammet, though the actual case is yet another Maltese Falcon take-off (with Sam the Eagle as the "falcon.") The Blimp appears as Casper Von Blimpman, a take-off of Casper "The Fat Man" Guttman from Falcon, but Statler refers to him as "The Thin Man," alluding to Hammet's other famous detective, Nick Charles.
  • One of the books seen in Detective Grover's office in the Street Mission pre-show hall is titled "The Maltese Monster".


  • Peter Boyle played Jimmy Ryan in Hammett (1982 film)
  • David Canary played Jack Santos in The Dain Curse (1978, TV)
  • James Coburn played Hamilton Nash (based on the Continental Op) in The Dain Curse (1978, TV)
  • Joe Flynn played a jewelry salesman in The Thin Man episode "The Dollar Doodle" (1957, TV)
  • Michael Habeck played Alexander Rush in Rondino mit leichen ("The Assistant Murderer"; 1991, German radio) and Grant Fernie in Nightmare Town (1995, German radio)
  • Bob Hope played himself in The Thin Man episode "The Lost Last Chapter" (1958, TV)
  • Samuel L. Jackson played Jack Friar (based on the Continental Op) in No Good Deed (2002 film)
  • Alf Marholm played Stan Tennant in Death on Pine Street (1974, German radio)
  • Jayne Meadows played Janet Thayar in Song of the Thin Man (1947 film)
  • Sandra Oh played Brigid O'Shaugnessy in The Maltese Falcon (2008, full-cast audiobook)
  • Tommi Piper played Steve Freefall in Nightmare Town (1995, German radio)
  • Anne Revere played Crazy Mary in The Thin Man Goes Home (1944 film)
  • Don Rickles played Eddie in The Thin Man episode "The Cat Kicker" (1959, TV)
  • Olan Soule played a bookstore clerk in The Thin Man episode "Double Jeapordy" (1958)
  • Robin Summers played minor roles in The Maltese Falcon' (1984, BBC Radio)
  • Hattie Winston played Minnie Hershey in The Dain Curse (1978, TV)
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