By Erika I. Ritchie
The Orange County Register
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new documentary details how Gloria Fickling and her late husband, Skip Fickling, developed TV‘s first female detective, “Honey West.” It also takes a look at how the character transformed women’s roles in television, laying the groundwork for such shows as Cagney & Lacey, Charlie’s Angels and Police Woman.
Gloria Fickling’s “29th” birthdays have been mostly private for decades, but when a marquee announcing ‘Honey West: The Gloria Fickling Story’ went up recently at the now-closed Laguna South Coast Cinemas, hundreds showed up at her party.
The petite brunette wore a floral dress and floppy-brimmed hat to celebrate what was actually her 91st birthday with about 250 people at Seven Degrees. A cake with 29 candles and dozens of other cakes were spread around the room.
But Fickling had more than her birthday to celebrate.
The party included a screening of the new documentary that details how she and her late husband, Skip Fickling, developed the character of Honey West. Their 1957 book, “This Girl for Hire,” was the first in the detective series that broke new ground with a female private eye and eventually led to the first female TV detective, portrayed by Anne Francis.
Fickling said she is astonished how the character she and her husband created is still relevant.
“I didn’t think it would be successful” 60 years later, she said. “Who thinks so far ahead?”
Nick Jerge, who produced the 30-minute documentary and attended the party, said the Ficklings were ahead of their time in creating Honey West.
The couple wrote the books under the pseudonym G.G. Fickling so the author wouldn’t be seen as male or female.
Jerge first became aware of the character from his mother, who repeatedly used Honey West as a reference to things she had sleuthed out.