Acclaimed crime writer MICKEY SPILLANE has died after a long illness. He was 88. Born FRANK MORRISON SPILLANE in Brooklyn, New York in 1918, the author is best remembered as the creator of top TV and movie sleuth MIKE HAMMER, who appeared in his very first book, I, THE JURY, in 1947. Spillane's first stories were published in comic books and pulp magazines. He wrote storylines for CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE HUMAN TORCH, among others. Spillane went from writing about heroes to becoming one during World War Two when he worked as a flying instructor for the US Army Air Force. Upon returning to civilian life and reportedly keen to find the money to buy a house, Spillane attempted to turn his private investigator character Hammer into a household name. Between 1950 and 1952, the author wrote five Hammer novels. Each one was bigger than its predecessor and Spillane and Hammer quickly became beloved. The character has been portrayed many times on screen - even Spillane played Hammer in 1963's THE GIRL HUNTERS. He once boasted, "I'm the most translated writer in the world, behind LENIN, TOLSTOY, GORKI and JULES VERNE. And they're all dead." Spillane was married three times and fathered four children.