Goodbye, Honey: Writer Remembers Anne Francis As Pioneering TV FemaleAnne Francis left us Sunday at the too-young age of 80, but to those of us who knew her as Honey West, the first female private eye on TV, she will live forever.

Raised on Nancy Drew, I had never heard the term "feminist," but I knew there was a need for someone in books, movies and television who could be as tough as Mike Hammer or Batman, but in a skirt and high heels. That someone finally arrived on our television screens in 1965, predating even my also beloved Emma Peel of The Avengers.

At the time I didn't yet know Honey West was also the hero of a series of detective novels written by the husband-and-wife team of Forrest and Gloria Fickling. Later, I read most of the books and found them to be a pleasingly pulpy version of Mickey Spillane's immensely popular Mike Hammer series, without Spillane's gore and misogyny. The Honey West books were sexy in a rather charming 1950s way -- Honey was forever losing her blouse, but she never slept with anyone, neither in the pages of her books nor on the small screen.