I met Bill Ballinger in 1960, at the Highlander Motel, just a couple blocks from the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood. We were both living there at the time; Bill, because of the close proximity to the TV/movie studios, and I had just been transferred to Los Angeles by my company.
It was a chance meeting orchestrated by the motel go-to guy for anything the residents needed, Clarence, who had a feeling Bill and I would hit it off. We did and it was a relationship that lasted to his death in 1980. I was there with the family and spent several days with him right to the end.
Bill was a steady smoker and, unfortunately, lung cancer took his life.. On one of the last days, when I arrived at the hospital, his wife Lucile stopped me before entering his room and asked if I could go in and calm Bill down. It seems he wanted a cigarette and the hospital had taken them away for fear of an explosion from the oxygen he was receiving.
And not the least of which, he was dying from the very thing he craved. We argued,
But for the years leading up to that day, it was a friendship I treasured because of, just Bill and Lucy, and the memories we shared together. Like the time Lucile decided she could grow hair on two balding heads. She had us both lying on their bed on our stomachs where she spread vodka mixed with cayenne pepper on our bald pates. And, Bill's and Lucy's parties populated with the Hollywood bunch, but the more down to earth crowd; Lucile's curry for dinner was out of this world.
library unequaled in the field. The Tooth and the Nail was considered one of his finest, and it was also made into a movie. He also wrote another 150 TV and motion picture scripts.
In 1961 Bill won the coveted Edgar Award for an Alfred Hitchcock teleplay. At one of the parties, I met the Associate Producer for the Hitchcock TV series and he told me he could always count on Bill for a great script, and an almost overnight delivery.Lucy called me after Bill's passing, saying she was going through his things and found several personal copies of his novels; felt he would have wanted me to have them. Brett Halliday, pen name of Dave Dresser, and the author of Michael Shane
To my dear friends - Jack and Barbara - Much happiness in your new home, but don't forget your way back - Love, Bill S. Ballinger - dated 9/6/74
We did return but it wasn't the same without Bill and Lucy Ballinger.