Sims, George (Carrol) 1902-1966

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SIMS, George (Carrol) 1902-1966

(Paul Cain, Peter Ruric)

PERSONAL:

Born May 30, 1902, in Des Moines, IA; died of cancer June 23, 1966, in Los Angeles, CA; married three times; children: (third marriage) two sons.

CAREER:

Author. Also worked as an art decorator and film production assistant in Los Angeles, CA.

WRITINGS:

(Under pseudonym Paul Cain) Fast One (crime novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1933, reprinted, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1978.

(Under pseudonym Peter Ruric; with others) Gambling Ship (screenplay), 1933.

(Under pseudonym Peter Ruric) Affairs of a Gentleman (screenplay), 1934.

(Under pseudonym Peter Ruric) Grand Central Murders (screenplay), 1942.

(Under pseudonym Peter Ruric; with others) Mademoiselle Fifi (screenplay), 1944.

(Under pseudonym Paul Cain) Seven Slayers (short stories), Saint Enterprises (Hollywood, CA), 1946.

(Under pseudonym Peter Ruric) The Lady in Yellow (television screenplay), 1960.

Contributor of short stories to magazines, including Black Mask, and articles to Gourmet magazine.

ADAPTATIONS:

The film Gambling Ship, starring Cary Grant, was loosely based on short stories by Sims.

SIDELIGHTS:

George Sims, who wrote prose fiction under the name Paul Cain and screenplays as under the name Peter Ruric, is best known for his only novel. Fast One, a gangster tale set in Depression-era Los Angeles, is the saga of gunman-gambler Gerry Kells and his dipsomaniacal lover, S. Grandqueist. A somewhat mysterious figure in the literary world, Sims was known for his contributions to the pulp magazine Black Mask. Much of this mystery was sparked by Sims's own whimsical design, and the rest a result of four decades of his drifting in and out of Hollywood.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1902, Sims was living in Los Angeles by 1923, and was listed as an "art decorator" in the Los Angeles City directory. He served as a production assistant in director Joseph von Sternberg's first film, Salvation Hunters, in 1925 under the name George Ruric. That same year he changed his name again, this time to Peter Ruric, while suggesting to a soon-to-be-famous chorus girl that she change hers from Myrna Williams to Myrna Loy. In the late 1920s he moved to New York City, where he began writing as Paul Cain for Black Mask. Why he moved or chose the hard-boiled genre is unknown. His output included the stories that would later become Fast One. In 1932, he returned to Hollywood because Cary Grant was making Gambling Ship, a film loosely based on the Fast One stories. The film sale inspired Sims to pull together a novel, and Fast One was published in 1933.

Initially, Fast One made no great impression on the public and disappeared. The next year, as Peter Ruric, Sims wrote his script The Black Cat—a Boris Karloff picture about a coven of Bauhaus Satanists. The film's costar, Bela Lugosi, and Sims became friends and roamed Hollywood together. During this time, he continued writing as Paul Cain for Black Mask, but never pulled together another novel. In 1936, he joined others on the staff and stopped writing for the magazine when editor Joseph Shaw resigned.

Sims published two minor stories in two minor magazines, then gave up the pulps forever. Years later, in 1948, Joseph Shaw edited The Hard-boiled Omnibus, and that motivated Sims to publish Seven Slayers, a paperback collection of stories selected from his Black Mask work. In addition to the two "Cain" titles, Sims claimed in various resumes to have written such works as Hypersensualism: A Practical Philosophy for Acrobats and The Ecstasy Department. No evidence has been found to indicate that these works exist, however. His only other published works are two contributions to Gourmet magazine written in 1949 and 1951.

Ruric returned to Hollywood to try writing for television, but got little work. His last six years remain particularly opaque. It is only known for sure that he died of cancer on June 23, 1966, in Los Angeles, the city he evoked in Fast One. Ironically, after his death, this "man who disappeared" didn't. His ashes were kept in storage unclaimed for two years until a woman had them shipped to her home in Hawaii. Who she was and where Sims's remains are now is a mystery. His novel, in the meantime, has attracted renewed attention from hard-boiled crime aficionados in reprint editions.*

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Sims, George (Carrol) 1902-1966

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