Pulp Friday: Klute the novel & William Johnson, master of the paperback tie-in

Klute paperback frontI had a lot of interest in my post earlier this week on Alan J Pakula’s wonderfully atmospheric 1971 movie, Klute. Given this, I thought Pulp Curry readers may be interested in having a look at this artefact from my pulp collection, the paperback tie-in for the film. It was published by Paperback Library in July 1971, a month after the film was released. I like the tag line on the cover, which reduces what is a remarkably sophisticated film to a classic, 1950s sounding pulp novel: ‘A small-town cop and New York call girl run a collision course with murder’.

I thought this would be a relatively straight forward post, but as is often the case there is a story behind the author of this book. Paperback tie-ins were a massively popular form of entertainment before the advent of VHS, as a way for fans to re-live their favourite films and television shows. The author of Klute, William Johnston, appears to have been somewhat of a master of the paper-back tie in.

According to an article on this site, much of which was taken by a longer piece by author, Lee Goldberg, Johnston penned a large number of them. The best known of these were numerous books for the Get Smart series. But Johnston also wrote tie-ins for Happy DaysWelcome Back Kotter, The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, The Munsters, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, The Monkees and F-Troop, Ironside, Dick Tracy, The Young Rebels, The Iron Horse, Then Came Bronson, and Rod Serling’s The New People, to name a few. He even adapted the cartoon characters Magilla Gorilla and Snagglepuss as books for children.

In addition to Klute, his movie ties-ins included The Swinger, a 1966 film starring Ann Margaret and Anthony Franciosa, Echoes of a Summer (1976), the wonderfully named The New Interns (1964), The Priest’s Wife (1970), in which a young women, played by Sophia Loren, starts an affair with a priest she meets on a help line after she attempts suicide, and Lt. Robin Crusoe USN, a 1966 Walt Disney film starring Dick Van Dyke.

His last job was the novelisation of Gore Vidal’s Caligula (under the pseudonym William Howard). Johnston also did on stand alone novel, a science fiction caper story, Sam Weskit on the Planet Framingham, that appeared in 1970.

He died in 2010.

William Johnson, I salute you.

Klute paperback back



6 Responses

  1. Hi there,

    Coming at you from Chiang Mai where yesterday I finished reading and much enjoyed Angela’s novel, Behind the Night Markets. No smart phone so can’t access my email until I’m back in Sydney circa the 19th.

    Best wishes


  2. Andrew
    The US paperback is certainly pulpy, but the UK edition (Sphere 1971) has a better cover, in my opinion. I’ll scan and send a copy, if you haven’t seen it.

    It often happens that movie tie-in novels don’t keep to the screenplay as filmed. Maybe they
    work from earlier versions of the script. In this book William Johnston contrives a do-I-hear-wedding-bells happy ending, which is certainly not in the movie


    Stuart Radmore

  3. Stuart,
    Thanks for stopping by and for your information. I would love it if you could send me a high resolution scan of the UK edition of the KLUTE paperback. I will post it on my site as one of my regular Pulp Friday offerings.

  4. Andrew

    Not sure how/where to send the cover scan. Probably my fault.

    Can you let me have an email address



  5. Pingback: Pulp Friday: Klute, the UK paperback tie-ins | Pulp Curry

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