Kendell Foster Crossen

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Kendell Foster Crossen
Born (1910-07-25)July 25, 1910
Athens, Ohio, United States
Died November 29, 1981(1981-11-29) (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Pen name Richard Foster, Bennett Barlay, Kent and Clay Richards, M. E. Chaber
Occupation Novelist
Children Stephen Foster Crossen, Karen Crossen Ready, Kendra Crossen Burroughs, David Crossen

Kendell Foster Crossen (July 25, 1910 – November 29, 1981) was an American pulp fiction and science fiction writer. He was the creator and writer of stories about the Green Lama (a pulp and comic book hero) and the Milo March detective novels.

His pen names included Richard Foster, Bennett Barlay, Kent Richards and Clay Richards, Christopher Monig (allegedly the name of a ghost of the town of Crossen on the Oder), and M. E. Chaber (from the Hebrew word mechaber, meaning author). Some bylines use the abbreviated name Ken Crossen.


Kendell Foster Crossen was born in Albany, Ohio (outside Athens), the only child of farmers Sam Crossen and Chlo Foster Crossen. He attended Rio Grande College in Ohio where he played football. He was an amateur boxer and worked at jobs ranging from carnival barker to insurance investigator. In the 1930s he was employed as a writer on Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects, including a New York City Guidebook, before becoming editor of Detective Fiction Weekly.

In the 1940s he wrote pulp detective fiction and novels under his own name as well as the pseudonyms Richard Foster, M. E. Chaber, Christopher Monig, Clay Richards, Bennett Barley, and others. He originated the pulp and comic book character the Green Lama, a crime-fighting Buddhist superhero whose powers emerged upon the recitation of the Tibetan mantra "om mani padme hum." He wrote hundreds of radio scripts for Suspense, The Saint, Mystery Theater, and others. His later television credits include 77 Sunset Strip, The Man from Blackhawk, Man and the Challenge, and Perry Mason.

In the 1950s Crossen began writing science fiction for publications such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, including the humorous Manning Draco stories about an intergalactic insurance investigator (four of which are featured in the book Once Upon a Star, 1953). His novels in the genre are Murder Out of Mind (1945), Year of Consent (1954), dealing with a 1990 America run by tyrannical "social engineers", and The Rest Must Die (1959), about survivors of a nuclear catastrophe in New York City. Novellas include Passport to Pax (1952) and Things of Distinction (1952). He edited two sci-fi anthologies, Adventures in Tomorrow (1951) and Future Tense (1952).

Milo March

A successful series of tightly plotted novels about a brandy-drinking, poetry-quoting New York insurance investigator named Milo March was published under the name M. E. Chaber from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s: Hangman’s Harvest (1952), No Grave for March (1953), As Old as Cain (1954), The Man Inside (1954; made into a 1958 film), The Splintered Man (1955), A Lonely Walk (1956), The Gallows Garden (1958), A Hearse of Another Color (1958), So Dead the Rose (1959), Jade for a Lady (1962), Softly in the Night (1963), Six Who Ran (1964), Uneasy Lies the Dead (1964), Wanted: Dead Men (1965), The Day It Rained Diamonds (1966), A Man in the Middle (1967), Wild Midnight Falls (1968), The Flaming Man (1969), Green Grow the Graves (1970), The Bonded Dead (1971), and Born to Be Hanged (1973). In some of these plots, March is called to duty in the U.S. Army Reserve. Notable among these is The Splintered Man, in which he rescues a West German scientist captured by the East Germans, who tortured him by plying him with LSD. In 1967, also under the name M. E. Chaber, Crossen published The Acid Nightmare, a cautionary young adult novel in which a teenage boy experiences two LSD trips, one good and one bad.

A final Milo March manuscript, set in Vietnam, was completed in 1974, but remains unpublished owing to a difference of opinion with Crossen's publisher, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, who told him it was "too political and too controversial."[1]

Crossen's works are collected at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University.[2]


  1. ^ Lewis, Steve (June 1979). "Interview with Kendell Foster Crossen". Mystery Nook. No. 12. p. A3. 
  2. ^ "Kendell Foster Crossen collection". Howard Gotlibe Archival Research Center. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 

External links

  • Fantastic Fiction
  • Kendell Foster Crossen in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
  • Original illustration for Crossen's story "Restricted Clientele", Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1951
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