In the 1940's Howard Duff's resonant, cynical growl was the unmistakable radio voice of detective Sam Spade. Later, Duff's virile, well-traveled features became known to two generations of filmgoers and TV viewers.
With former wife Ida Lupino, Duff became a favorite on the Hollywood scene, appearing opposite her in a short-lived TV situation comedy series in 1956-57 entitled "Mr. Adams and Eve." It was a classic case of life imitating art as he portrayed half of a husband and wife film-star team battling with studios, agents and themselves.
He also was a regular on such television series as "Dante" (as an international adventurer), "Felony Squad" (as a police detective) and the anthology "Science Fiction Theater." His nearly two dozen movies included "Kramer vs. Kramer," "The Naked City," "The Late Show," "While the City Sleeps" and "A Wedding."
Duff was a frequent guest on such TV shows as "The Golden Girls," "Falcon Crest," "Midnight Caller" and "Knots Landing." He also appeared in the miniseries "War and Remembrance."
But none of them ever seemed to recapture the Duff mystique as did Sam Spade, first heard over the nation's airwaves in 1946.
The radio show, sponsored by Wildroot Cream Oil and adapted from Dashiell Hammett's 1930 crime classic "The Maltese Falcon," showcased Duff as Spade, a mildly alcoholic, mostly down-and-out private detective whose first question of prospective clients was, "How much money you got on you?"