Nero Wolfe

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Nero Wolfe
"Bitter End" — Carl Mueller illustrated Rex Stout's
first Nero Wolfe novella for The American Magazine
First appearanceFer-de-Lance
Created byRex Stout
OccupationPrivate detective
ChildrenCarla Lovchen (adopted daughter)
CitizenshipUnited States by naturalization
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This article is about Rex Stout's fictional detective. For other uses, see Nero Wolfe (disambiguation).
Nero Wolfe
"Bitter End" — Carl Mueller illustrated Rex Stout's
first Nero Wolfe novella for The American Magazine
First appearanceFer-de-Lance
Created byRex Stout
OccupationPrivate detective
ChildrenCarla Lovchen (adopted daughter)
CitizenshipUnited States by naturalization

Nero Wolfe is a fictional character, an armchair detective created in 1934 by the American mystery writer Rex Stout. Wolfe's confidential assistant Archie Goodwin narrates the cases of the detective genius. Stout wrote 33 novels and 39 short stories from 1934 to 1975, with most of them set in New York City. Wolfe's residence, a luxurious brownstone on West 35th Street, features prominently in the series. Many radio, television and film adaptations have been made from the stories.

The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated for Best Mystery Series of the Century at Bouchercon 2000, the world's largest mystery convention, and Rex Stout was a nominee for Best Mystery Writer of the Century.[1]

Title character[edit]

I suggest beginning with autobiographical sketches from each of us, and here is mine. I was born in Montenegro and spent my early boyhood there. At the age of sixteen I decided to move around, and in fourteen years I became acquainted with most of Europe, a little of Africa, and much of Asia, in a variety of roles and activities. Coming to this country in nineteen-thirty, not penniless, I bought this house and entered into practice as a private detective. I am a naturalized American citizen.

— Nero Wolfe addressing the suspects in "Fourth of July Picnic" (1957)

The Nero Wolfe stories take place contemporaneously with their writing and depict a changing landscape and society. The principal characters in the corpus do not age. Although it is not directly stated in the stories, Nero Wolfe's age is 56, according to Rex Stout.[2]

"Those stories have ignored time for thirty-nine years," Stout told his authorized biographer John McAleer. "Any reader who can't or won't do the same should skip them. I didn't age the characters because I didn't want to. That would have made it cumbersome and would seem to have centered attention on the characters rather than the stories."[3]:49

Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the stories, frequently describes Wolfe as weighing "a seventh of a ton." At the time of the first book, 1934, this was intended to indicate unusual obesity, especially through the use of the word "ton" as the unit of measure. In 1947 Archie writes, "He weighs between 310 and 390, and he limits his physical movements to what he regards as the irreducible essentials."[4]

"Wolfe's most extravagant distinction is his extreme antipathy to literal extravagance. He will not move," wrote J. Kenneth Van Dover in At Wolfe's Door: The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout:

He insists upon the point: under no circumstances will he leave his home or violate his routines in order to facilitate an investigation. The exceptions are few and remarkable. Instead of spreading the principles of order and justice throughout his society, Wolfe imposes them dogmatically and absolutely within the walls of his house — the brownstone on West Thirty-Fifth Street — and he invites those who are troubled by an incomprehensible and threatening environment to enter the controlled economy of the house and to discover there the source of disorder in their own lives.
The invitation is extended to readers as well as to clients.[5]

Perhaps Wolfe's most remarkable departure from the brownstone is due to personal reasons, not to business, and thus does not violate the rule regarding the conduct of business away from the office. That event occurs in The Black Mountain, when he leaves not only his home but the shores of the United States, to avenge the murder of his oldest friend. He abandons for a time his cherished daily habits and, despite his physical bulk, engages in strenuous outdoor activity in mountain terrain.


You, gentlemen, are Americans, much more completely than I am, for I wasn't born here. This is your native country. It was you and your brothers, black and white, who let me come here and live, and I hope you'll let me say, without getting maudlin, that I'm grateful to you for it.

— Nero Wolfe to the black staff of Kanawha Spa in Too Many Cooks (1938), chapter 10

Nero Wolfe and his boyhood friend Marko Vukcic hunted dragonflies in the mountains where Wolfe was born, in the vicinity of Lovćen

With one notable exception, the corpus implies or states that Nero Wolfe was born in Montenegro. In the first chapter of Over My Dead Body (1939), Wolfe tells an FBI agent that he was born in the United States — a declaration at odds with all other references. Stout revealed the reason for the discrepancy in a letter obtained by his authorized biographer, John McAleer: "In the original draft of Over My Dead Body Nero was a Montenegrin by birth, and it all fitted previous hints as to his background; but violent protests from The American Magazine, supported by Farrar & Rinehart, caused his cradle to be transported five thousand miles."[6]:403, 566[7]

"I got the idea of making Wolfe a Montenegrin from Louis Adamic," Stout told McAleer. Everything Stout knew about Montenegrins he learned from Adamic's book The Native's Return (1934), or from Adamic himself, McAleer reported.

"Adamic describes the Montenegrin male as tall, commanding, dignified, courteous, hospitable," McAleer wrote. "He is reluctant to work, accustomed to isolation from women. He places women in a subordinate role. He is a romantic idealist, apt to go in for dashing effects to express his spirited nature. He is strong in family loyalties, has great pride, is impatient of restraint. Love of freedom is his outstanding trait. He is stubborn, fearless, unsubduable, capable of great self-denial to uphold his ideals. He is fatalistic toward death. In short, Rex had found for Wolfe a nationality that fitted him to perfection."[6]:403, 556

Wolfe is reticent about his youth, but apparently he was athletic, fit, and adventurous. Before World War I, he spied for the Austrian government's Evidenzbureau, but had a change of heart when the war began. He then joined the Serbian-Montenegrin army and fought against the Austrians and Germans. That means he was likely to have been involved in the harrowing 1915 withdrawal of the defeated Serbian army, when thousands of soldiers died from disease, starvation and sheer exhaustion — which might help to explain the comfort-loving habits that are such a conspicuous part of his character. After a time in Europe and North Africa, he came to the United States.

In 1956, John D. Clark theorized in an article in the Baker Street Journal that Wolfe was the offspring of an affair between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (a character from "A Scandal in Bohemia"). Clark suggested that the two had had an affair in Montenegro in 1892, and that Nero Wolfe was the result. The idea was later co-opted by William S. Baring-Gould and implied in the novels of Nicholas Meyer, but there is no evidence that Rex Stout had any such connection in mind. Certainly there is no mention of it in any of the stories, although a painting of Sherlock Holmes does hang over Archie Goodwin's desk in Nero Wolfe's office. This suggests that in the Nero Wolfe universe, Sherlock Holmes is a real person, not a fictional one. Some commentators, noting both physical and psychological resemblances, suggest Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes as a more likely father for Wolfe. Commentators have noted a coincidence in the names "Sherlock Holmes" and "Nero Wolfe": the same vowels appear in the same order. In 1957 Ellery Queen called this "The Great O-E Theory" and suggested that it derived from the father of mysteries, Edgar Allan Poe.[8]

Some Wold Newton theorists have suggested the French thief Arsène Lupin as the father of Nero Wolfe. They note that in one story Lupin has an affair with the queen of a Balkan principality, which may be Montenegro by another name. Further, they note that the name Lupin resembles the French word for wolf, loup.[9]


I rarely leave my house. I do like it here. I would be an idiot to leave this chair, made to fit me —

— Nero Wolfe in "Before I Die" (1947), chapter 2

The Manhattan brownstone used in the A&E TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–2002)

Nero Wolfe, who has expensive tastes, lives in a comfortable and luxurious New York City brownstone on West 35th Street. The brownstone has three floors, plus a large basement with living quarters, a rooftop greenhouse also with living quarters, and a small elevator, used almost exclusively by Wolfe. Other unique features include a timer-activated window-opening device that regulates the temperature in Wolfe's bedroom, an alarm system that sounds in Archie's room if someone approaches Wolfe's bedroom door or windows, and climate-controlled plant rooms on the top floor. A well-known amateur orchid grower, Wolfe has 10,000 plants in the brownstone's greenhouse. He employs three live-in staff to see to his needs.

The front door is equipped with a chain bolt, a bell that can be shut off as needed, and a pane of one-way glass, which enables Archie to see who is on the stoop before deciding whether to open the door.[10]

Wolfe's office becomes nearly soundproof when the doors to the front room and hallway are closed. There is a small hole in the office wall, covered by what Archie calls a "trick picture of a waterfall."[11] A person in an alcove at the end of the hallway can open a sliding panel covering the hole, so as to see and hear conversations and other events in the office without being noticed. The chair behind Wolfe's desk is custom-built, with special springs to hold his weight; according to Archie, it is the only chair Wolfe really enjoys sitting in.[12] Near the desk is a large chair upholstered in red leather, which is usually reserved for Inspector Cramer, a current or prospective client, or the person whom Wolfe and Archie want to question.

As noted in Champagne for One (chapter 10) and elsewhere, the brownstone has a back entrance leading to a private garden from which a passage leads to 34th Street — used to enter or leave Wolfe's home when it is necessary to evade surveillance. Archie says that Fritz tries to grow herbs such as chives in the garden.

"That readers have proved endlessly fascinated with the topography of Wolfe's brownstone temple should not be surprising," wrote J. Kenneth Van Dover in At Wolfe's Door:

It is the center from which moral order emanates, and the details of its layout and its operations are signs of its stability. For forty years, Wolfe prepares menus with Fritz and pots orchids with Theodore. For forty years, Archie takes notes at his desk, the client sits in the red chair and the other principals distribute themselves in the yellow chairs, and Wolfe presides from his custom-made throne. For forty years, Inspector Cramer and Sergeant Purley Stebbins ring the doorbell, enter the office, and explode with indignation at Wolfe's intractability. The front room, the elevator, the three-foot globe — all persist in place through forty years of American history. ... Like Holmes's 221B Baker Street, Wolfe's West Thirty-Fifth Street remains a fixed point in a turning world.[13]

In the course of the books, ten different street addresses on West 35th Street are given:

"Curiously, the 900 block of West 35th Street would be in the Hudson River," wrote American writer Randy Cohen, who created a map of the literary stars' homes for The New York Times in 2005. "It's a non-address, the real estate equivalent of those 555 telephone numbers used in movies." Cohen settled on 922 West 35th Street — the address printed on Archie's business card in The Silent Speaker — as Nero Wolfe's address.[15]

Writing as Archie Goodwin in his 1983 book, The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe, Ken Darby suggests that "the actual location was on East 22nd Street in the Gramercy Park District. ... Wolfe merely moved us, fictionally, from one place to the other in order to preserve his particular brand of privacy. As far as I can discover, there never were brownstone houses on West 35th Street."[16]

The absence of brownstones in Wolfe's neighborhood sent the producers of the A&E TV series, A Nero Wolfe Mystery, to the Upper West Side of Manhattan for an appropriate home and setting for select exterior shots. This Manhattan brownstone, unlike the model specially constructed on the Toronto set where most of the series was filmed,[17] lacked some peculiarities of Wolfe's home — for example, the correct number of steps leading up to the stoop — and was therefore shown from angles that would camouflage any slight discrepancies.[18] The series settled on "914" for the brownstone's address. This number can be seen on the studio set representing the front door exterior in several episodes and on a closeup of Archie's paycheck in "Prisoner's Base".


Once he burned up a cookbook because it said to remove the hide from a ham end before putting it in the pot with lima beans. Which he loves most, food or words, is a tossup.

— Archie Goodwin in Gambit (1962), chapter 1

Along with reading, good food is the keystone of Wolfe's mostly leisured existence. He is both a gourmand and a gourmet, enjoying generous helpings of Fritz's cuisine three times a day. Shad roe is a particular favorite, prepared in a number of different ways. Archie, who enjoys his food but lacks Wolfe's discerning palate, laments in The Final Deduction (chapter 9) that "Every spring I get so fed up with shad roe that I wish to heaven fish would figure out some other way. Whales have." Shad roe is frequently the first course, followed by another Wolfe favorite, roasted or braised duck. Archie also complains that there is never corned beef or rye bread on Wolfe's table, and he sometimes ducks out to eat a corned beef sandwich at a nearby diner. But in "Cordially Invited to Meet Death", a young woman gives Wolfe a lesson in preparing corned beef hash. Another contradiction: in Plot It Yourself, Archie goes to a diner to eat "fried chicken like my Aunt Margie used to make it back in Ohio," since Fritz does not fry chicken. But in The Golden Spiders, Fritz prepares fried chicken for Wolfe, Archie, Saul, Orrie, and Fred.

Wolfe displays an oenophile's knowledge of wine and brandy, but it is only implied that he drinks either. In And Be a Villain (chapter 17), he issues a dinner invitation and regrets doing so on short notice: "There will not be time to chambrer a claret properly, but we can have the chill off." Continuing the invitation, Wolfe says of a certain brandy, "I hope this won't shock you, but the way to do it is to sip it with bites of Fritz's apple pie."

On weekdays, Fritz serves Wolfe his breakfast in his bedroom. Archie eats his separately in the kitchen, although if Wolfe has morning instructions for him, he will ask Fritz to send Archie upstairs. Regularly scheduled mealtimes for lunch and dinner are part of Wolfe's daily routine. In an early story, Wolfe tells a guest that luncheon is served daily at 1 p.m. and dinner at 8 p.m., although later stories suggest that lunchtime may have been changed to 1:15 or 1:30, at least on Fridays. Lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. If Archie is in a rush due to pressing business or a social engagement, he will eat separately in the kitchen because Wolfe cannot bear to see a meal rushed. Wolfe also has a rule, sometimes bent but very rarely overtly broken, against discussing business at the table.

In the earliest books, Archie reports that Wolfe is subject to what he terms a "relapse" — a period of several days during which Wolfe refuses to work, or even to listen to Archie badger him about work. The cause is unknown. Wolfe either takes to bed and eats nothing but bread and onion soup, or consults with Fritz on menus and the preparation of nonstop meals. In Fer-de-Lance (chapter 6), Archie reports that during a relapse Wolfe once ate half a sheep in two days, different parts cooked in 20 different ways. The relapse also appears briefly in The League of Frightened Men (chapter 11), The Red Box (chapter 6) and Where There's a Will (chapter 12), but subsequently disappears from the corpus as a plot device.

Wolfe views much of life through the prism of food and dining, going so far as to say at one point that Voltaire "... wasn't a man at all, since he had no palate and a dried-up stomach."[19] He knows enough about fine cuisine to lecture on American cooking to Les Quinze Maîtres (a group of the 15 finest chefs in the world) in Too Many Cooks and to dine with the Ten for Aristology (a group of epicures) in "Poison à la Carte". Wolfe does not, however, enjoy visiting restaurants (with the occasional exception of Rusterman's, owned for a time by Wolfe's best friend, Marco Vukcic). In The Red Box (chapter 11), Wolfe states that "I know nothing of restaurants; short of compulsion, I would not eat in one were Vatel himself the chef."

Wolfe appears to know his way around the kitchen; in Too Many Cooks (chapter 17), he tells Jerome Berin, "I spend quite a little time in the kitchen myself." In The Doorbell Rang, he offers to cook Yorkshire Buck for the 'teers, and in "Immune to Murder", the State Department asks him to prepare trout Montbarry for a visiting dignitary. In The Black Mountain, Wolfe and Goodwin stay briefly in an unoccupied house in Italy on their way to Montenegro; Wolfe prepares a pasta dish using Romano cheese that, from "his memory of local custom," he finds in a hole in the ground. During the short story "Murder Is Corny", he lectures Inspector Cramer on the right and wrong ways to cook corn on the cob, insisting that it must be roasted rather than boiled in order to achieve the best flavor. (The 1940 story "Bitter End" suggests the contrary view that Wolfe was unable to prepare his own meals; Fritz's illness with the flu causes a household crisis and forces Wolfe to resort to canned liver pâté for his lunch.)

Wolfe's meals generally include an appetizer, a main course, a salad served after the entrée (with the salad dressing mixed at tableside and used immediately), and a dessert course with coffee.

Many of the dishes referred to in the various Nero Wolfe stories and novels were collected and published, complete with recipes, as The Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout and the Editors of the Viking Press, published in 1973. All recipes are prefaced with a brief excerpt from the book or story that made reference to that particular dish.


[Fritz] served Wolfe’s beer first, the bottle unopened because that's a rule, and Wolfe got his opener from the drawer, a gold one Marko Vukcic had given him that didn’t work very well.

— Archie Goodwin in The Father Hunt (1968), chapter 5

Gold plated bottle opener from the A&E TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Nero Wolfe's first recorded words are, "Where's the beer?"

The first novel, Fer-de-Lance, introduces Wolfe as he prepares to change his habits: with Prohibition at an end, he can stop buying kegs of bootleg beer and purchase it legally in bottles. Fritz brings in samples of 49 different brands for him to evaluate, from which he ultimately selects Remmers as his favorite. Several times during the story, Wolfe announces his intention to reduce his beer intake from six quarts a day to five. "I grinned at that, for I didn't believe it," Archie Goodwin writes.[20]

Like most other things in Wolfe's life, his beer drinking is bound by ritual. Seated at his desk, Wolfe presses the button twice to ring for beer, and Fritz delivers the bottles unopened. Wolfe uncaps the bottles himself, using an 18-carat gold bottle opener given to him by a satisfied client.[21] He never drinks directly from the bottle, but instead pours the beer into a glass and lets the foam settle to an appropriate level before drinking. He keeps the gold opener in the center drawer of his desk, where he also keeps the bottlecaps as a means of tracking his daily/weekly consumption.

In Plot It Yourself (chapter 13), Wolfe makes an unprecedented vow after Archie tells him the killer they seek has killed again. Wolfe hits the desk with his fist, bellows in a language Archie doesn't understand, then coldly orders Fritz away when he enters with the beer: "Take it back. I shall drink no beer until I get my fingers around that creature's throat."


Wolfe had once remarked to me that the orchids were his concubines: insipid, expensive, parasitic and temperamental. He brought them, in their diverse forms and colors, to the limits of their perfection, and then gave them away; he had never sold one.

— Archie Goodwin in The League of Frightened Men (1935), chapter 2

Known for rigidly maintaining his personal schedule, Nero Wolfe is most inflexible when it comes to his routine in the rooftop plant rooms.

"Wolfe spends four hours a day with his orchids. Clients must accommodate themselves to this schedule," wrote Rex Stout's biographer John J. McAleer. "Rex does not use the orchid schedule to gloss over gummy plotting. Like the disciplines the sonneteer is bound by, the schedule is part of the framework he is committed to work within. The orchids and the orchid rooms sometimes are focal points in the stories. They are never irrelevant. In forty years Wolfe has scarcely ever shortened an orchid schedule."[6]:445

"A dilly it was, this greenhouse," wrote Dr. John H. Vandermeulen in the February 1985 issue of the American Orchid Society Bulletin.

Entering from the stairs via a vestibule, there were three main rooms — one for cattleyas, laelias, and hybrids; one for odontoglossums, oncidiums, miltonias, and their hybrids; and a tropical room (according to Fer-de-Lance). It must have been quite a sight with the angle-iron staging gleaming in its silver paint and on the concrete benches and shelves 10,000 pots of orchids in glorious, exultant bloom.[22]

"If Wolfe had a favorite orchid, it would be the genus Phalaenopsis," Robert M. Hamilton wrote in his article, "The Orchidology of Nero Wolfe", first printed in The Gazette: Journal of the Wolfe Pack (Volume 1, Spring 1979). "Archie notes them in eleven adventures. … Phalaenopsis Aphrodite is mentioned in seven different adventures by Archie, more than any other species. This may have been Wolfe's favorite."[23] Wolfe personally cuts his most treasured Phalaenopsis Aphrodite for the centerpiece at the dinner for the Ten for Aristology in "Poison à la Carte". In The Father Hunt, after Dorothy Sebor provides the information that solves the case, Wolfe tells Archie, "We'll send her some sprays of Phalaenopsis Aphrodite. They have never been finer."[24]

Wolfe rarely sells his orchids[25] — but he does give them away. Four or five dozen are used to advance the investigation in Murder by the Book, and Wolfe refuses to let Archie bill the client for them. In The Final Deduction, Laelia purpurata and Dendrobium chrysotoxum are sent to Dr. Vollmer and his assistant, who shelter Wolfe and Archie when they have to flee the brownstone to avoid the police.[26]

In The Second Confession, the orchid rooms are torn apart by gunfire from across the street. The shooters are in the employ of crime boss Arnold Zeck, who wants Wolfe to drop a case that could lead back to him. Wolfe and Archie call men to take care of the plants and repair the windows before notifying the police.[27]


I understand the technique of eccentricity; it would be futile for a man to labor at establishing a reputation for oddity if he were ready at the slightest provocation to revert to normal action.

— Nero Wolfe in Fer-de-Lance (1934), chapter 5

Wolfe has pronounced eccentricities, as well as strict rules concerning his way of life, and their occasional violation adds spice to many of the stories:


Born in Ohio. Public high school, pretty good at geometry and football, graduated with honor but no honors. Went to college two weeks, decided it was childish, came to New York and got a job guarding a pier, shot and killed two men and was fired, was recommended to Nero Wolfe for a chore he wanted done, did it, was offered a full-time job by Mr. Wolfe, took it, still have it.

— Archie Goodwin addressing the suspects in "Fourth of July Picnic" (1957)

Archie Goodwin is the narrator of all the Nero Wolfe stories and a central character in them. He is occasionally referred to by the New York newspapers as "Nero Wolfe's legman". Like Wolfe, Archie is a licensed private detective and handles all investigation that takes place outside the brownstone. He also takes care of routine tasks such as sorting the mail, taking dictation and answering the phone. At the time of the first novel, Fer-de-Lance, Archie had been working for Wolfe for seven years[42] and had by then been trained by Wolfe in his preferred methods of investigation. Like Wolfe, he has developed an extraordinary memory and can recite verbatim conversations that go on for hours. But perhaps his most useful attribute is his ability to bring reluctant people to Wolfe for interrogation.

Archie has his own bedroom one floor above Wolfe's[43] and lives at the brownstone rent-free. On several occasions he makes it a point to note that he owns his bedroom furniture. Except for breakfast (which chef Fritz Brenner generally serves him in the kitchen) Archie takes his meals at Wolfe's table, and has learned much about haute cuisine by listening to Wolfe and Fritz discuss food. While Archie has a cocktail on occasion, his beverage of choice is milk.

Archie has frequent reason to note that he needs at least eight hours sleep each night, and prefers more. He reacts bitterly when his sleep is interrupted or otherwise shortened by events, such as late night interrogations at Homicide headquarters or a precinct, or a 1:45 a.m. phone call from a client who has lost her keys,[44] or driving a suspect to her home in Carmel and returning to Manhattan at 2:30 a.m.[45]

Archie's initial rough edges become smoother across the decades, much as American norms evolved over the years. Noting Archie's colloquialisms in the first two Nero Wolfe novels, Rev. Frederick G. Gotwald wrote, "The crudeness of these references makes me suspect that Stout uses them in Archie to show their ugliness because he uses them unapologetically."[46] In the first Wolfe novel, Archie uses a racially offensive term, for which Wolfe chides him,[47] but by the time that A Right to Die was published in 1964, racial epithets were used only by Stout's criminals, or as evidence of mental defect.

If he had done nothing more than to create Archie Goodwin, Rex Stout would deserve the gratitude of whatever assessors watch over the prosperity of American literature. For surely Archie is one of the folk heroes in which the modern American temper can see itself transfigured. Archie is the lineal descendant of Huck Finn ... Archie is spiritually larger than life. That is why his employer and companion had to be made corpulent to match.

Jacques Barzun[48]

Many reviewers and critics regard Archie as the stories' true protagonist. Compared to Wolfe, Goodwin is the man of action, tough and street smart. His narrative style is breezy and vivid. Some commentators saw this as a conscious device by Stout to fuse the hard school of Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade with the urbanity of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot.[49] But there is no doubt that Goodwin was an important addition to the genre of detective fiction. Previously, foils such as Dr. Watson or Arthur Hastings were employed as confidants and narrators, but none had such a fully developed personality or was such an integral part of the plot as Archie.

Supporting characters[edit]


The 'Teers[edit]

Law enforcement officials[edit]


Other associates[edit]


He passes the supreme test of being rereadable. I don't know how many times I have reread the Wolfe stories, but plenty. I know exactly what is coming and how it is all going to end, but it doesn't matter. That's writing.

P.G. Wodehouse[56]

Books by Rex Stout[edit]

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books (novels and novella/short story collections) are listed below in order of publication. For specific publication history, including original magazine appearances, see entries for individual titles. Years link to year-in-literature articles.

Other Nero Wolfe works by Rex Stout[edit]

He says you don't look at color, you feel it, and apparently he thinks that really means something. It doesn't to me, but maybe it does to you and you know exactly how he feels as he opens the door to the plant rooms and walks in on the big show. I have never known a day when less than a hundred plants were in bloom, and sometimes there are a thousand...

I frowned back. "You cramp it. Or Stout. Let him earn his ten per cent. Dictate it."

Archie loses the argument and condenses their views on the book, which concerns the case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Other authors of Nero Wolfe stories[edit]

How would you feel if someone wanted to continue the Wolfe series after you laid aside your pen?
I don't know whether vampirism or cannibalism is the better term for it. Not nice. They should roll their own.

— Rex Stout, interviewed by biographer John J. McAleer[6]:494

Robert Goldsborough[edit]

With the approval of the estate of Rex Stout, journalist Robert Goldsborough wrote seven Nero Wolfe mysteries, published by Bantam Books. Goldsborough's approach was faithful to the Rex Stout works, but he added his own touches, including an updated frame of reference (Archie now uses a personal computer to file Wolfe's germination records; Wolfe's ancient elevator is finally replaced by a more efficient model, etc.). Goldsborough's first effort, Murder in E Minor (1986), was a bestseller, and was hailed as an excellent mystery.[57][not in citation given] Goldsborough averaged one new Wolfe novel annually, often drawing on his own background in advertising, education and journalism for color and detail.

Other pastiches[edit]

Books about Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe[edit]

Rex Stout in 1973 (Photograph by Jill Krementz)

Reception and influence[edit]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

Nero Wolfe depicted in a set of 12 Nicaraguan postage stamps issued in November 1972 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Interpol.



After the publication of Fer-de-Lance in 1934, several Hollywood studios were interested in the movie rights.[6]:254 In one of many conversations with his authorized biographer, Rex Stout told John McAleer that he himself had wanted Charles Laughton to play Nero Wolfe:

I met Laughton only once, at a party. Of all the actors I have seen, I think he would have come closest to doing Nero Wolfe perfectly. A motion picture producer (I forget who) asked him to do a series of Nero Wolfe movies, and he had said he would agree to do one but would not commit himself to a series.[3]:48

In 1974 McAleer interviewed Laughton's widow, Elsa Lanchester. "I seem to remember Charles being very interested in the character of Nero Wolfe," she told him. "I always regretted I did not get to play Dora Chapin."[6]:554[72]

"When Columbia pictures bought the screen rights to Fer-de-Lance for $7,500 and secured the option to buy further stories in the series, it was thought the role would go to Walter Connolly. Instead Edward Arnold got it," McAleer reported in Rex Stout: A Biography. "Columbia's idea was to keep Arnold busy with low-cost Wolfe films between features. Two films presently were made by Columbia, Meet Nero Wolfe (Fer-de-Lance) and The League of Frightened Men. Connolly did portray Wolfe in the latter film, after Arnold decided he did not want to become identified in the public mind with one part. Lionel Stander portrayed Archie Goodwin. Stander was a capable actor but, as Archie, Rex thought he had been miscast."[6]:254–255

Meet Nero Wolfe[edit]

Main article: Meet Nero Wolfe

Columbia Pictures adapted the first Nero Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance, for the screen in 1936. Meet Nero Wolfe was directed by Herbert Biberman, and featured a cast led by Edward Arnold as Nero Wolfe, and Lionel Stander as Archie Goodwin. A young Rita Hayworth (then Rita Cansino) portrays Maria Maringola, who sets the story in motion when she asks for Wolfe's help in finding her missing brother, Carlo.

"Meet Nero Wolfe is an above average minor A picture, a solid mystery, and unfailingly entertaining," reported Scarlet Street magazine in 2002 when it revisited the film. "No, at bottom, it's not Rex Stout's Nero and Archie, but it's a well-developed mystery (thanks to Stout's plot) with compensations all its own — and an interesting piece of Wolfeana."[73]

The League of Frightened Men[edit]

In 1937, Columbia Pictures released The League of Frightened Men, its adaptation of the second Nero Wolfe novel. Lionel Stander reprised his role as Archie Goodwin, and Walter Connolly took over the role of Nero Wolfe.

"He drinks beer in the novel but hot chocolate in the picture. That's the best explanation of what's wrong with the film," wrote Variety (June 16, 1937).

After The League of Frightened Men, Rex Stout declined to authorize any more Hollywood adaptations. "Do you think there's any chance of Hollywood ever making a good Nero Wolfe movie?" biographer John McAleer asked the author. Stout replied, "I don't know. I suppose so."[3]:48


The Adventures of Nero Wolfe (ABC)[edit]

1943–1944, 30 minutes

Three actors portrayed Nero Wolfe over the course of the radio series The Adventures of Nero Wolfe. J.B. Williams starred in its first incarnation (April 7–June 30, 1943) on the New England Network. Santos Ortega assumed the role when the suspense drama moved to ABC (July 5–September 27, 1943; January 21–July 14, 1944). Luis Van Rooten succeeded Ortega in 1944, Nero Wolfe's last year on ABC.[74] The final episode, "The Last Laugh Murder Case", aired July 14, 1944.

"Differences between (ABC producer) Hi Brown and Edwin Fadiman, who represented Rex's radio, screen and television interests, as Nero Wolfe Attractions, Inc., prevented its later resumption on ABC," John McAleer reported in Rex Stout: A Biography. "This fact Brown regretted. 'Nero Wolfe,' Brown says, 'is one of the strongest and most successful detective characters in all of fiction.'"[6]:324

The Amazing Nero Wolfe (MBS)[edit]

1946, 30 minutes

"The series next surfaced early in 1946, on Sundays, on the Mutual Network," wrote Stout biographer John McAleer, "with Francis X. Bushman, one-time movie idol, as Wolfe, and Elliott Lewis as Archie. ... The scripts once again were network originals. The humor verged on slapstick."[6]:324

The Amazing Nero Wolfe concluded December 15, 1946, with "The Case of the Shakespeare Folio".[75]

The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (NBC)[edit]

1951, 30 minutes

The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe began October 20, 1950, with "Stamped for Murder". Sydney Greenstreet starred as Nero Wolfe. Science fiction author Alfred Bester wrote the script.

"Rex thought Greenstreet a splendid choice for the role and Greenstreet did, in fact, fill every reasonable expectation," wrote Stout biographer John McAleer. A succession of Archies included Gerald Mohr, Herb Ellis, Larry Dobkin, Wally Maher and Harry Bartell. The series ended April 27, 1951, with "The Case of Room 304".

McAleer reports that after hearing five minutes of one of Greenstreet's shows, Stout said he could take no more. "He liked Greenstreet. The script he found impossible."[6]:325, 487

Nero Wolfe (CBC)[edit]

1982, 60 minutes

In 1982, Canadian actor, producer, writer and cultural pioneer Mavor Moore (1919–2006) starred as Nero Wolfe in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 13-episode radio series Nero Wolfe (a.k.a. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe). Don Francks portrayed Archie Goodwin, and Cec Linder played Inspector Cramer. Toronto actor-producer Ron Hartmann spent two years adapting, directing and producing the CBC radio drama. "Ron and I are ardent Nero Wolfe fans, and we're out to convert the listener," Moore told the Toronto Globe and Mail.[76]


Omnibus, "The Fine Art of Murder" (ABC)[edit]

Rex Stout appeared in the December 9, 1956, episode of Omnibus, a cultural anthology series that epitomized the golden age of television. Hosted by Alistair Cooke and directed by Paul Bogart, "The Fine Art of Murder" was a 40-minute segment described by Time magazine as "a homicide as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe [and] Rex Stout would variously present it."[77] The author is credited as appearing along with Gene Reynolds (Archie Goodwin), Robert Eckles (Nero Wolfe), James Daly (narrator), Dennis Hoey (Arthur Conan Doyle), Felix Munro (Edgar Allan Poe), Herbert Voland (M. Dupin) and Jack Sydow.[78] Writer Sidney Carroll received the 1957 Edgar Award for Best Episode in a TV Series.[79] "The Fine Art of Murder" is in the collection of the Library of Congress (VBE 2397-2398) and screened in its Mary Pickford Theater February 15, 2000.[80]

Nero Wolfe (CBS)[edit]

On September 15, 1949, Rex Stout wrote a confidential memo to Edwin Fadiman, who represented his radio, film and television interests. The memo provided detailed character descriptions of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, and a physical description and diagram of Wolfe's office. Stout's biographer John McAleer later interpreted the memo as guidance for the NBC Nero Wolfe radio series that began in October 1950. But in summarizing the memo's unique revelations, McAleer remarked, "A TV producer could not have hoped for more specifics."[81]

On October 22, 1949, Billboard reported that Fadiman Associates was packaging a television series featuring Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe characters.[82] By 1957 CBS had purchased the rights and was pitching a Nero Wolfe TV series to advertisers.[83]

In March 1959, The New York Times reported that Kurt Kasznar and William Shatner would portray Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin in the CBS-TV series. Both actors were then starring on Broadway — the Vienna-born Kasznar in Noel Coward's Look After Lulu! and Shatner in The World of Suzie Wong.[84]

Nero Wolfe was co-produced by Gordon Duff and Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.,[85] with Edwin Fadiman as executive producer. Written by Sidney Carroll[86] and directed by Tom Donovan, the pilot was filmed in Manhattan in March 1959. Three or four episodes of the half-hour series were filmed,[87] with a jazz score composed by Alex North.[88][89]

Nero Wolfe was to air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET beginning in September 1959.[90] But in April, CBS announced that the new comedy series Hennesey would occupy the time slot.[91]

In June 1959, Baltimore Sun critic Donald Kirkley reported that the Nero Wolfe pilot had been, "in a way, too successful":

Everything seemed to point to a sale of the series. A facsimile of the brownstone house in which Wolfe lives in the novels … was found in Grammercy [sic] Square. But when the film was made and shown around, it was considered too good to be confined to half an hour. There was a new shuffle and deal, and in consequence, an hour-long, new pilot is now being photographed in Hollywood.[92]

In October 1960, William Shatner was reportedly still working to sell the first television adaptation of Nero Wolfe to the networks.[93]

Nero Wolfe (Paramount Television)[edit]

In 1967 Rex Stout told author Dick Lochte that Orson Welles had once wanted to make a series of Nero Wolfe movies, and Stout had turned him down;[94] disappointed with the Nero Wolfe movies of the 1930s, Stout was leery of Nero Wolfe film and TV projects in America during his lifetime. In 1976, a year after Stout's death, Paramount Television purchased the rights for the entire set of Nero Wolfe stories for Orson Welles.[95][96] Paramount paid $200,000 for the TV rights to eight hours of Nero Wolfe.[97] The producers planned to begin with an ABC-TV movie and hoped to persuade Welles to continue the role in a mini-series.[98] Frank D. Gilroy was signed to write the television script ("The Doorbell Rang") and direct the TV movie on the assurance that Welles would star, but by April 1977 Welles had bowed out. Thayer David was cast as Wolfe in the 1977 TV movie.[99]

In March 1980, Paramount was planning a weekly NBC-TV series as a starring vehicle for Welles; Leon Tokatyan (Lou Grant) was to write the pilot.[100] Welles again declined because he wanted to do a series of 90-minute specials, perhaps two or three a year, instead of a weekly series. William Conrad was cast as Wolfe in the 1981 TV series.[101]

Nero Wolfe (1977)[edit]
Main article: Nero Wolfe (film)

In 1977, Paramount Television filmed Nero Wolfe, an adaptation of Stout's novel The Doorbell Rang. Thayer David and Tom Mason starred as Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin; Anne Baxter costarred as Mrs. Rachel Bruner. Written and directed by Frank D. Gilroy, the made-for-TV movie was produced as a pilot for a possible upcoming series[102] — but the film had still had not aired at the time of Thayer David's death in July 1978. Nero Wolfe was finally broadcast December 18, 1979, as an ABC-TV late show.[103]

Nero Wolfe (1981)[edit]

Paramount Television remounted Nero Wolfe as a weekly one-hour series that ran on NBC TV from January through August 1981. The project was recast with William Conrad stepping into the role of Nero Wolfe and Lee Horsley portraying Archie Goodwin. Although it was titled "Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe", the production departed considerably from the originals. All 14 episodes were set in contemporary New York City.

A Nero Wolfe Mystery (A&E Network)[edit]

Main article: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Independent producer Michael Jaffe's efforts to secure the rights to the Nero Wolfe stories date back to his earliest days in the business. In the mid-1970s he was working with his father, Henry Jaffe, a successful attorney turned producer, when the Nero Wolfe rights came on the market. Warner Bros. wanted to adapt the Zeck trilogy for a feature film and approached Henry Jaffe, who traveled to New York to negotiate with the agent for Rex Stout's estate but lost out to Paramount Television.

"We finally got this opportunity," Michael Jaffe said in 2001:

I had chased the rights numerous times. One of the reasons that I never actually tried to make it as a series was that I didn't believe a network would ever let us make it the right way. Then A&E came along, and Allen Sabinson. I've known him for years and years. He swore he'd let me make it the right way.[104][105]

In March 2000, Maury Chaykin (as Nero Wolfe) and Timothy Hutton (as Archie Goodwin) starred in The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, a Jaffe/Braunstein Films co-production with the A&E Network. High ratings led to the original series, A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–2002).

Hutton had a strong creative hand in the A&E series, serving as an executive producer and directing four telefilms. A Nero Wolfe Mystery adapted the plots and dialogue of the Stout originals closely; unlike previous Wolfe adaptations, the series retained Archie Goodwin's first-person narration and did not update the stories to contemporary times. The episodes were colorful period pieces, set primarily in the 1940s–1950s.[106] The production values were exceptional and critics responded favorably.[107]

Other members of the principal cast were Colin Fox (Fritz Brenner), Conrad Dunn (Saul Panzer), Fulvio Cecere (Fred Durkin), Trent McMullen (Orrie Cather), Saul Rubinek (Lon Cohen), Bill Smitrovich (Inspector Cramer) and R.D. Reid (Sergeant Purley Stebbins). In a practice reminiscent of the mystery movie series of the 1930s and 1940s, the show rarely used guest stars in the roles of victims, killers and suspects, but instead used the same ensemble of supporting actors each week. An actor who had been "killed off" in one show might portray the murderer in the next. Actress Kari Matchett was a member of this repertory group while also having a recurring role in the series as Archie Goodwin's girlfriend Lily Rowan; other frequent members of the troupe included Nicky Guadagni, Debra Monk, George Plimpton, Ron Rifkin, Francie Swift and James Tolkan. — a web-search service that reports the most-sought out-of-print titles — documents that the production of A Nero Wolfe Mystery coincides with Rex Stout's becoming a top-selling author some 30 years after his death. In March 2003, the top four most-wanted mysteries listed by were all Nero Wolfe novels: Where There's a Will (1940), The Rubber Band (1936), The Red Box (1937) and The League of Frightened Men (1935). The Red Box was the most-searched mystery title in August 2003, and the novel remained as number two on the list in 2004. In 2006, Too Many Women (1947) was fifth on's list of most-sought out-of-print thrillers, whodunits, classics and modern mystery titles. In 2007, The Black Mountain was in the number five position.[108]

Most of the Nero Wolfe stories adapted for A Nero Wolfe Mystery are available through Bantam's Rex Stout Library, a series of paperbacks featuring new introductions by present-day writers and never-before published Rex Stout memorabilia. Some Bantam volumes, like Prisoner's Base, are emblazoned with the words, "as seen on TV". The Audio Partners Publishing Corporation promotes its bestselling line of Rex Stout audiobooks, unabridged on CD and audiocassette, "as seen on A&E TV".[109]

A Nero Wolfe Mystery is available on DVD as two sets (The Golden Spiders bundled with the second season), and as a single eight-disc thinpack set. ISBN 0-7670-8893-X

International TV productions[edit]

Zu viele Köche (Germany 1961)[edit]

A German TV adaption of Too Many CooksZu viele Köche (1961) — starred Heinz Klevenow as Nero Wolfe, and Joachim Fuchsberger as Archie Goodwin. After he protested that his story was used without permission, Rex Stout received a $3,500 settlement.[6]:488

Nero Wolfe (Italy 1969–1971)[edit]

"The name Nero Wolfe has magic in Italy," wrote Rex Stout's biographer John McAleer. In 1968, the Italian television network RAI paid Stout $80,000 for the rights to produce 12 Nero Wolfe stories. "He agreed only because he would never see them," McAleer wrote.

From February 1969 to February 1971, Italian television broadcast 10 Nero Wolfe TV movies. These are the episodes in order of appearance:

  1. Veleno in sartoria (The Red Box)
  2. Circuito chiuso (If Death Ever Slept)
  3. Per la fama di Cesare (Some Buried Caesar)
  4. Il Pesce più grosso (The Doorbell Rang)
  5. Un incidente di caccia (Where There's a Will)
  6. Il patto dei sei (The Rubber Band)
  7. La casa degli attori ("Counterfeit for Murder")
  8. La bella bugiarda ("Murder Is Corny")
  9. Sfida al cioccolato (Gambit)
  10. Salsicce 'Mezzanotte' (Too Many Cooks)

In the Best Families and The Final Deduction were among the titles for which RAI also bought the rights, but were not filmed.

The successful series of black-and-white telemovies stars Tino Buazzelli (Nero Wolfe), Paolo Ferrari (actor) (Archie Goodwin), Pupo De Luca (Fritz Brenner), Renzo Palmer (Inspector Cramer), Roberto Pistone (Saul Panzer), Mario Righetti (Orrie Cather) and Gianfranco Varetto (Fred Durkin). The whole series became available on DVD in 2007.[6]:488[110]

Poka ya ne umer (Russia 2001)[edit]

A series of Russian Nero Wolfe TV movies was made in 2001–2002. One of the adaptations, Poka ya ne umer ("Before I Die") (Russian: Пока я не умер), was written by Vladimir Valutsky, screenwriter for a Russian Sherlock Holmes television series in the 1980s. Nero Wolfe is played by Donatas Banionis, and Archie Goodwin by Sergei Zhigunov.

Nero Wolfe (Italy 2012)[edit]

On April 5, 2012, the RAI network in Italy began a new Nero Wolfe series starring Francesco Pannofino as Nero Wolfe and Pietro Sermonti as Archie Goodwin. Produced by Casanova Multimedia and Rai Fiction, the eight-episode first season began with "La traccia del serpente," an adaptation of Fer-de-Lance set in 1959 in Rome, where Wolfe and Archie reside after leaving the United States.[111][112]

The first season comprises eight episodes, listed in order of appearance:

  1. La traccia del serpente (Fer-de-Lance)
  2. Champagne per uno (Champagne for One)
  3. La principessa Orchidea (The Golden Spiders)
  4. Il patto dei sei (The Rubber Band)
  5. Scacco al Re (Gambit)
  6. Parassiti (If Death Ever Slept)
  7. La scatola rossa (The Red Box)
  8. Coppia di spade (Over My Dead Body)

Other appearances[edit]

Wolfe, as he appeared in volume 17 of Case Closed

A Nero Wolfe newspaper comic strip appeared from 1956 to 1958, drawn by Mike Roy.[113]

Nero Wolfe was highlighted in volume 17 of the Case Closed manga edition of "Gosho Aoyama's Mystery Library," a section of the graphic novels (usually the last page) where the author introduces a different detective (or occasionally, a villain) from mystery literature, television, or other media.


  1. ^ a b Walker, Tom, "Mystery writers shine light on best: Bouchercon 2000 convention honors authors", The Denver Post, September 10, 2000. Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot was named Best Mystery Series of the Century. Agatha Christie was voted Best Mystery Writer of the Century; the other nominees were Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Sayers and Rex Stout. The 31st World Mystery Convention was presented in Denver September 7–10, 2000.
  2. ^ McAleer, John J., Rex Stout: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977 ISBN 0-316-55340-9, p. 383. To assist the producers of the Sydney Greenstreet radio series, The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout prepared a confidential memo dated September 14, 1949. Under the heading "Description of Nero Wolfe", Stout begins: "Height 5 ft. 11 in. Weight 272 lbs. Age 56."
  3. ^ a b c McAleer, John J., Royal Decree: Conversations with Rex Stout. Ashton, Maryland: Pontes Press, 1983.
  4. ^ "Before I Die," as printed in the April 1947 issue of The American Magazine, p. 158. Later in 1947, in Too Many Women (chapter 5), Archie estimates Wolfe's weight at close to 340. In In the Best Families (1953), Wolfe temporarily sheds 117 pounds.
  5. ^ Van Dover, J. Kenneth, At Wolfe's Door: The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout. Rockville, Maryland: James A. Rock & Company, 2003 (second edition) ISBN 0-918736-52-8 p. 2
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McAleer, John J., Rex Stout: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977 ISBN 0-316-55340-9.
  7. ^ See also Over My Dead Body.
  8. ^ Queen, Ellery, In the Queens' Parlor, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1957, pp. 4-5
  9. ^ Ruaud, A.-F. "Arsène Lupin: A Timeline". Cool French Comics. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  10. ^ In most of the corpus, it's seven steps from the sidewalk to the stoop (for example, "The Squirt and the Monkey"; Before Midnight, chapter 5; Might as Well Be Dead, chapter 2; A Family Affair, chapter 3), but it's eight steps in "Booby Trap", chapter 5.
  11. ^ The Doorbell Rang, chapter 13. According to chapter 16 of Too Many Clients the picture measures 14 by 17.
  12. ^ But Wolfe has another chair, nearly as good as the one in the office, in his bedroom. See, e.g., Help Wanted, Male, where chapter 5 refers to it as his "number two chair."
  13. ^ Van Dover, J. Kenneth, At Wolfe's Door: The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout. Rockville, Maryland: James A. Rock & Company, 2003 (second edition) ISBN 0-918736-52-8 p. 3
  14. ^ In The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe (1983, Little, Brown and Company; ISBN 0-316-17280-4, p. 9), Ken Darby identifies the ten brownstone addresses and additional stories in which they appear. The most frequently used address for Nero Wolfe's residence is 918 West 35th Street — the address that Darby found in The Red Box, And Be a Villain, "The Next Witness" and "Method Three for Murder".
  15. ^ Cohen, Randy, “We'll Map Manhattan”, The New York Times, May 1, 2005; and (with Nigel Holmes) "We Mapped Manhattan", June 5, 2001. On the "Literary Map of Manhattan", the brownstone is numbered 58 and is placed in the middle of the Hudson River.
  16. ^ Darby, Ken, The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe, p. 8. Stout was playfully erratic about details in the stories. Besides the varying street addresses, he retained minor inconsistencies, and catching them is one of the pleasures of readers of the Nero Wolfe stories. Inspector Cramer's first name, rarely invoked, was originally Fergus, and later modified to L.T. Wolfe's attorney, Nathaniel Parker, was also known as Henry Parker and Henry Barber. An assistant district attorney was either Mandel or Mandelbaum. The same surnames are assigned to supporting characters in different stories: Jarrett, Jaret, Jarrell, Dykes, Annis, Avery, Bowen, Yerkes, Whipple and others.
  17. ^ "And Hutton, bless him, took pains to make sure that the stoop, meticulously recreated in a freezing Ontario warehouse soundstage really did have seven steps." Sieff, Martin, "Happy Christmas, Santa Wolfe"; United Press International (December 25, 2001)
  18. ^ WireImage (image numbers 253302 – 253308) and Getty Images (image number 1302172) document the location photography directed by Timothy Hutton on October 15, 2000, also seen in the A&E documentary, The Making of Nero Wolfe
  19. ^ Gambit, chapter 8.
  20. ^ Fer-de-Lance, chapter 1.
  21. ^ Prisoner's Base, chapter 2; In the Best Families, chapter 2. Marko Vukcic engaged Wolfe in "Omit Flowers".
  22. ^ Vandermeulen, Dr. John H., "Nero Wolfe — Orchidist Extraordinaire". American Orchid Society Bulletin, vol. 54, no. 2, February 1985, p. 143
  23. ^ Gotwald, Rev. Frederick G., The Nero Wolfe Handbook (1985; revised 1992, 2000), pp. 84–85. Robert M. Hamilton lists all of the orchids mentioned in Archie's accounts in alphabetical order. He records Phalaenopsis Aphrodite appearing in "Door to Death", The Golden Spiders, Plot It Yourself, "Poison à la Carte", A Right to Die, The Doorbell Rang and The Father Hunt. Lists of the orchid references in the corpus can be found online [1] on the official site of the Nero Wolfe Society, the Wolfe Pack.
  24. ^ "Poison à la Carte", chapter 2; The Father Hunt, chapter 13.
  25. ^ "I do not sell orchids," Wolfe tells Archie in chapter 7 of Murder by the Book (1951). Six years later, in If Death Ever Slept (chapter 11), Archie describes Wolfe as "a practicing private detective with no other source of income except selling a few orchid plants now and then."
  26. ^ The Final Deduction, chapter 6
  27. ^ The Second Confession, chapter 5
  28. ^ "He was one of the only two men whom Wolfe called by their first names, apart from employees," Archie writes in Too Many Cooks, chapter 1. Sixteen years later, in The Black Mountain (chapter 1), Archie puts the number at ten.
  29. ^ "Instead of Evidence", chapter 1
  30. ^ "Blood Will Tell", chapter 2
  31. ^ The Father Hunt, chapter 12.
  32. ^ The Doorbell Rang, chapter 7
  33. ^ The Doorbell Rang, chapter 8. However, in In the Best Families, Wolfe displays no noticeable reticence whatsoever concerning travel in an automobile.
  34. ^ The League of Frightened Men, chapter 10
  35. ^ Haskell, Molly, "Beware a Brand-New Kind of Man"; The New York Observer, December 23, 2001
  36. ^ Fer-de-Lance, chapter 3
  37. ^ In "Help Wanted, Male" Archie states that the gong was installed "... some years previously when Wolfe had got a knife stuck in him. The thing had never gone off except when we tested it ..."
  38. ^ Too Many Cooks, chapter 1
  39. ^ Prisoner's Base, chapter 6
  40. ^ "Cordially Invited to Meet Death", chapter 6
  41. ^ Archie most frequently mentions Wolfe working on the puzzle in The Observer (Too Many Clients, chapter 10) and The Times (Murder by the Book, chapter 1).
  42. ^ Fer-de-Lance, chapter 3.
  43. ^ Archie's room is on the second floor in the first three novels: Fer-de-Lance (chapter 3), The League of Frightened Men (chapter 5) and The Rubber Band (chapter 8). In chapter 6 of Where There's a Will (1940), Archie's room is on the third floor, where it is in subsequent accounts. These include "Black Orchids" (chapter 6), "Cordially Invited to Meet Death" (chapter 3), "Not Quite Dead Enough" (chapter 3), "Booby Trap" (chapter 1), "Help Wanted, Male" (chapter 3), The Silent Speaker (chapter 19), "Before I Die" (chapters 10 and 11), Too Many Women (chapter 14) and "Omit Flowers" (chapter 8). In The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe, Ken Darby attests that Archie stays put as "guardian of the third floor" from 1950 on (p. 59).
  44. ^ Prisoner's Base, chapter 13
  45. ^ Plot It Yourself, chapter 16
  46. ^ Gotwald, Rev. Frederick G., The Nero Wolfe Companion, Vol. 1, p. 12. "I believe Stout uses such crude statements to have us feel how objectionable they are," Gotwald wrote (p. 43), adding that Archie's ethnic slur in chapter 2 of Fer-de-Lance was sanitized in paperback editions.
  47. ^ But the admonition apparently did not take hold. In Too Many Cooks, Wolfe questions a group of black men. Archie’s opinion, voiced using racial epithets, is that interviewing them will be a waste of time, but Wolfe's candor and respect gains him the men's trust. The session ends at 4:30 A.M. and Wolfe instructs Archie to telephone the (white) district attorney. Again Archie objects, suggesting that Wolfe should wait until later that day. Wolfe calmly says: “Archie, please. You tried to instruct me how to handle colored men. Will you try it with white men too?”
  48. ^ Jacques Barzun, A Birthday Tribute to Rex Stout. New York: Viking Press, 1965; reprinted in The Rex Stout Journal, no. 2 (Spring 1985), pp. 4–9.
  49. ^ Another fictional creation by Stout, the solo operative Tecumseh Fox, who is perhaps a fusion of the best qualities of Wolfe and Goodwin into a single person without Wolfe's collection of idiosyncrasies, is arguably a better and more effective fictional character, as in the novel The Broken Vase. That book, however, was not a commercial success, and only three books featuring Fox were written, one of which was later used as the basis for a Wolfe story at the urging of Stout's publisher.
  50. ^ The Red Box, chapter 15; Murder by the Book, chapter 7
  51. ^ In The Rubber Band (1936) Wolfe displays great respect (if not always cooperation) towards Cramer, but thinks Hombert "should go back to diapers" — an opinion indirectly shared by Cramer himself who points out that Hombert is a politician and not a policeman. In The Silent Speaker, Wolfe gets a chance to humiliate Hombert and help Cramer in the process.
  52. ^ A Family Affair, chapter 6.
  53. ^ Wolfe receives news of her death in the latter. "Lovchen" is not a family name; rather, it is the name of the black mountain from which Montenegro gets its name.
  54. ^ Wolfe and Archie first meet Sally Colt, later Corbett, in "Too Many Detectives" (1956), chapter 1, when they are summoned to Albany for questioning about wiretapping activities. Archie starts his report by stating, "I am against female detectives on principle." Still Sally Colt, she is again called on to help out in If Death Ever Slept (1957), chapter 17. In Plot It Yourself (1959), chapter 19, it is a Sally Corbett, not Colt, who helps out on Wolfe's case. "Sally Corbett was one of the two women who, a couple of years back, had made me feel that there might be some flaw in my attitude toward female dicks." Sally Colt/Corbett makes a final appearance in The Mother Hunt (1963), chapter 12. Archie remarks again that Sally and Dol had made him change his attitude about female detectives.
  55. ^ Also one of the few stories where Wolfe has to flee his home to escape arrest
  56. ^ Letter to John McAleer, quoted in the introduction to Death Times Three (ISBN 0553763059) p. v
  57. ^ "The Wolfe Pack". 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  58. ^ Goldsborough, Robert, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe (blog), August 3, 2012; retrieved August 4, 2012
  59. ^ Pierleoni, Allen, "Serial Thriller: John Lescroart's passions range from family to fishing but he's hit the big time with his novels"; Sacramento Bee, February 13, 2006. "Next came two books about the foreign adventures of crime-solving chef Auguste Lupa, reputedly the son of Sherlock Holmes — and who may have been the young Nero Wolfe."
  60. ^ Burns, Charles E. (1990). "Firecrackers". First published in The Gazette: The Journal of the Wolfe Pack, Volume IX, Number 2 (Spring 1991), and available for download in three PDFs. Retrieved 2013-05-30. The story can now also be read on a webpage, as well as in EPUB and MOBI formats. Retrieved 2013-07-01. Subsequently collected in Gotwald, Rev. Frederick G., The Nero Wolfe Handbook (1992 edition), pp. 301–336. Subsequently published in Nero Wolfe: The Archie Goodwin Files, edited by Marvin Kaye. Wildside Press, 2005, pp. 240–297. ISBN 1-55742-484-5.
  61. ^ Available both on a webpage as well as in EPUB and MOBI formats. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  62. ^ Mystery Scene Magazine, no. 109 (2009), p. 55; Kevin Buron Smith, Claudius Lyon & Arnie Woodbine, The Thrilling Detective. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  63. ^ Duncan, Dave The Alchemist's Apprentice (2007), The Alchemist's Code (2008), The Alchemist's Pursuit (2009)
  64. ^ Townsend, Guy M., Rex Stout: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography, p. 56.
  65. ^ Bourne, Michael, "An Informal Interview with Rex Stout"; 1998, James A. Rock & Co., Publishers ISBN 0-918736-22-6
  66. ^ Haycraft Queen Cornerstones Complete Checklist at Classic Crime; retrieved December 1, 2011
  67. ^ "Detective Fiction on Stamps: Nicaragua"; retrieved October 9, 2011
  68. ^ McAleer, John, Rex Stout: A Biography, p. 578. McAleer quotes a letter dated May 24, 1974, that he received from Torczyner, a New York collector who was also Georges Simenon's attorney.
  69. ^ "We know the importance granted to the words by Magritte in his paintings and we know the impact that literary works such as Poe's, Rex Stout's or Mallarmé's had on him." The Brussels Surrealist Group, Magritte Museum (retrieved July 31, 2011).
  70. ^ Danchev, Alex, "Canny Resemblance"; Times Higher Education Supplement, June 30, 2011
  71. ^ Matteson Art – 1931–1942 Brussels & Pre-War Years; retrieved July 31, 2011
  72. ^ Dora Chapin is the wife of the man feared by the members of The League of Frightened Men; much of the novel's plot hinges on her activities.
  73. ^ Hanke, Ken, "Meet Nero Wolfe"; Scarlet Street, issue #45, 2002, p. 77
  74. ^ Hickerson, Jay, The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide to All Circulating Shows, 1992, Box 4321, Hamden, CT 06514, p. 5; Hood, Steve, Old Time Radio & Nero Wolfe
  75. ^ Townsend, Guy M., Rex Stout: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography, p.126
  76. ^ MacNiven, Elina, "Nero Wolfe: Wolfe's verbal coups rendered on radio"; Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada), January 16, 1982
  77. ^ Program Preview, Time, December 10, 1956
  78. ^ TV Guide, December 8–14, 1956 (p. A-18); Omnibus, "The Fine Art of Murder" at
  79. ^ Edgar Awards Database; retrieved December 3, 2011
  80. ^ "Mary Pickford Theater, Archive of past screenings: 2000 Schedule". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  81. ^ McAleer, John, Rex Stout: A Biography, pp. 383–384. Rex Stout's confidential memo of September 15, 1949, describing Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin and Wolfe's office, is reprinted in the back matter of the 1992 Bantam Crimeline edition of Fer-de-Lance (ISBN 0-553-27819-3).
  82. ^ "Brief and Important"; The Billboard, October 22, 1949, p. 5.
  83. ^ "Revlon Eyeing Comedy Series"; The Billboard, April 27, 1957. "The other mysteries being mulled by the advertiser have been 'Nero Wolfe,' a CBS-produced series based on the Rex Stout stories…"
  84. ^ "Two Stage Actors Signed by CBS-TV; Kasznar and Shatner to Play in 'Nero Wolfe' Pilot Film"; The New York Times, March 14, 1959
  85. ^ Publishers Weekly, Volume 175, February 2, 1959
  86. ^ Dated December 31, 1958, the first draft script for Nero Wolfe is in the Performing Arts Special Collections at UCLA, in Box 27, Folder 6 of the Sidney Carroll Papers 1957–1981.
  87. ^ Shepard, Richard F., The New York Times, April 9, 1959
  88. ^ Billboard, April 20, 1959, pp. 38 + 40
  89. ^ Film score researcher Bill Wrobel located North's unheard score for Nero Wolfe and six recorded tracks on digital audio tape in the UCLA Music Library Special Collections; Film Score Rundowns, "CBS Collection 072 UCLA," Blog 42, June 25, 2010. See the Alex North article for details.
  90. ^ Ewald, William F., Television in Review (syndicated column), April 8, 1959
  91. ^ Ewald, William F., Television in Review (syndicated column), April 9, 1959
  92. ^ Kirkley, Donald, The Baltimore Sun, June 26, 1959
  93. ^ Witte, Lawrence, "TV-Radio News Bits"; The Evening Independent, Massillon, Ohio, October 26, 1960
  94. ^ Lochte, Dick, "TV finally tunes in Nero Wolfe," Los Angeles Times, January 30, 1977; discussed by Lochte, March 8, 2000. Lochte interviewed Rex Stout May 27, 1967 (McAleer, John, Rex Stout: A Biography, pp. 479–480).
  95. ^ Pre-production materials for Nero Wolfe (1976) are contained in the Orson Welles – Oja Kodar Papers 1910–1998 (Box 17) at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library.
  96. ^ Kleiner, Dick, Oakland Tribune, December 30, 1976; Lochte, Dick, "TV finally tunes in Nero Wolfe," Los Angeles Times, January 30, 1977; Smith, Liz, The Baltimore Sun, March 14, 1977
  97. ^ Rosenfield, Paul, "Have You Seen Any Good Novels Lately?" Los Angeles Times, March 4, 1979
  98. ^ Kleiner, Dick, Oakland Tribune, December 30, 1976
  99. ^ Gilroy, Frank D., I Wake Up Screening. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8093-1856-3 pp. ii and 147
  100. ^ Deeb, Gary, Chicago Tribune, March 26, 1980
  101. ^ Winfrey, Lee, "Conrad gets 'his' part"; Boca Raton News (Knight-Ridder Newspapers), January 21, 1981
  102. ^ Bawden, J.E.A., Films in Review, October 1977, p. 462
  103. ^ Terrace, Vincent, Television 1970–1980. San Diego, California: A.S. Barnes & Company, 1981, ISBN 0-498-02539-X p. 266.
  104. ^ Jaffe, Michael, "A Labor of Love: The Nero Wolfe Television Series." December 2001 address to the Wolfe Pack, reprinted in The Nero Wolfe Files, edited by Marvin Kaye (2005, Wildside Press; ISBN 0-8095-4494-6) pp. 86–88. Allen Sabinson became a programming consultant for A&E in 1999, and was named the network's senior vice president for programming in spring 2001.
  105. ^ Jaffe/Braunstein Films, Ltd., secured the rights to the Nero Wolfe stories in 1998 (U.S. Copyright Office Document Number V3412D882, recorded March 13, 1998).
  106. ^ Vitaris, Paula, "Miracle on 35th Street: Nero Wolfe on Television"; Scarlet Street, no. 45 (2002), p. 37. The exception is the second-season premiere directed by Timothy Hutton. For 'Death of a Doxy,' Tim decided to play it in the early sixties," Producer Michael Jaffe said. "If you look at that episode, it's really fun, because everything—the wardrobe, the art direction—is different, since it's a different generation. It breaks our mold."
  107. ^ "Wolfe Pack - Official Site of the Nero Wolfe Society". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  108. ^ reports for March 2003, August 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007
  109. ^ Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, The Audio Partners Publishing Corp., archived 2007-12-04 from the original at the Internet Archive. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  110. ^ "Nero Wolfe Italian TV Series". 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  111. ^ "Nero Wolfe". Casanova Multimedia. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  112. ^ Nero Wolfe (series televisiva 2012), Italian Wikipedia.
  113. ^ "Nero Wolfe Comics". The Wolfe Pack. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 

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