When Mickey Spillane’s 1972 thriller, The Erection Set, was published, it featured a photograph of a nude blonde stretching languidly across the cover. The model for the picture was Spillane’s second wife, Sherri, a singer and dancer who married the gravel-voiced master of detective fiction (60 million copies sold) in Malibu 11 years ago. Throughout their unconventional marriage, the couple rarely spent time together. Sherri, now 34, pursued her show business career and an active social life from the Spillanes’ East 57th Street apartment in Manhattan. Her husband, 57, preferred to write and fish at his home in the remote South Carolina town of Murrells Inlet. Absence did not make the heart grow fonder. Recently it was disclosed that Sherri had filed for divorce in California. “She’s just disturbed right now,” Spillane said. “When she gets over this I’ll remarry her.” A year ago the Spillanes talked candidly to a British reporter about their marriage and each other.
Mickey on Sherri:
Sherri and I may not see each other much, but we have some great reunions. It’s just that we like completely different kinds of lives. I’m happiest when I’m at home on the beach in South Carolina. Sherri calls it my dump. She hates it. She’s strictly an indoor girl in the big city. She doesn’t like anything that’s outside—like fresh air. She likes the shows and the nightlife. I hate them. If I do any drinking, I’d sooner do it at home.
My wife gets mad when we’re together, because I get up so early and start typing. My wife is always on my back because we never give a party. I hate parties. I like to get up early and go to bed early. I’m a tiger in the morning and a pussycat at night.
Sherri criticizes me all the time. She says, “You look like a slob.”
I say: “I am a slob.”
I criticize her cooking. Her favorite dish is kitchens. She burns them down. She’s burned down three so far. So I do the cooking.
I’m not a tough guy. Every time my wife gets wise with me, I punch her right in the mouth with my lips.
At my age, the only women who make plays for you are the widows, the divorcées and the ones who want something from you. I count Sherri as one of my kids. I don’t think I married her. I raised her.
Sherri on Mickey:
The first time I met Mickey, I’d never heard of him. I thought he was a gangster. He was very violent and began knocking me around and pulling my hair. I had just left school and was modeling for the back cover of Mickey’s book The Girl Hunters. The photo session was meant to last an hour, but it went on for three and ended up with Mickey and me necking. That night he asked me out for dinner and told me he was going to marry me. I thought he was crazy. Then he gave me his high school ring off his finger and said, “We’re engaged.” Mickey was the first man I ever went with.
I think the only reason Mickey and I stayed together so long is because we were apart such a lot. When we’re together, we drive each other crazy. The longest we are ever together is about a month. We have at least three or four arguments a day. We have absolutely nothing in common except that we love each other. His house in South Carolina is right on the beach, and I hate the water. Mickey likes to go fishing all day, but I hate boats and the smell of fish.
He keeps all my old clothes, and when I throw something out he’ll keep it because it reminds him of something. I throw things out like crazy. He doesn’t like to go anywhere. He just likes to hang around in a pair of cut-off jeans, no shoes and a dirty old T-shirt and watch television.
We also fight over money. I think money is to be spent. I love to spend money on clothes and jewelry. I like presents that cost a lot of money, so Mickey buys me diamonds and minks. I buy Mickey silly presents. I once bought him a pair of lovebirds, and the male loved the female to death.
If I could change anything in my life, I’d change Mickey so that he enjoyed all the things I like to do. Then we could spend time together—and not fight all the time.