Born in Ripley, Tennessee in 1932, Clark Howard was one of the most honored true crime and mystery writers in America and was a longtime favorite of readers of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, among numerous other publications.
A professional writer for over 40 years, he wrote eighteen novels, five books of non-fiction, two published collections of short stories, and more than 200 articles and short stories. Clark was best known for his true crime and mystery stories, though he was proficient in many genres. His accolades include the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award, five Ellery Queen Readers Awards, a Derringer Award, the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award, or Lifetime Achievement in the mystery short story field, along with nominations for the Anthony, Shamus, and Spur awards. In the hey-day of 1960s Las Vegas, he wrote a monthly boxing column for The Ring boxing magazine under the name Rich Howard.
His writings have been adapted for film and television, including the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, and the movie “The Big Town” (based on his novel The Arm). His non-fiction book Six Against the Rock was a television movie, and his original screenplay Last of the Good Guys was a featured movie of the week on CBS.
Clark’s works have been translated into several languages, with a large following of readers in various countries, especially in Japan and China.
Clark grew up on the lower West Side of Chicago and was a ward of Cook county by age twelve. His childhood consisted of running away from a string of foster homes, during which he was an amateur boxer for the Midwest Athletic Club on the West Side. In his early teens, he became a juvenile delinquent and was begrudgingly sent to a reformatory. He later ended up living with his maternal grandmother in a small town near Memphis, Tennessee.
Clark was drawn to the old-time Negro jazz music and ‘heads up’ crap shooting prevalent in late 1940’s southern America, with his first novel The Arm highlighting the latter.
Enlisting in the Marine Corps at age seventeen, he served as a rocket launcher gunner in the Punchbowl in Korea during the Korean War. In a battle of the high ground north of the Punchbowl, he was one of eight survivors in his platoon. At the age of twenty, he was discharged from the Marine Corps and was awarded the Korean Service Medal, two combat stars, among other decorations.
After serving, he began to pursue journalism at Northwest University in Chicago under the GI bill. After a professor criticized his work as being “undisciplined and of no commercial value,” he dropped out of college and continued to pursue writing, having already sold two short stories to New York magazines. His first published short story was titled “The Last Gun Fight,” published in 1954.
In January 2011, Clark was awarded a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in recognition for his life-long dedication and contributions to literature, especially in the genre of American short stories.
A long-time member of the Mystery Writers of America, the Author’s Guild, and the Writers Guild of America, Clark spent his later years in Palm Springs, CA, and is interred at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, CA next to his beloved wife, Judith Howard.