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Horace McCoy (April 14, 1897 – December 15, 1955) was an American writer, whose hard-boiled novels took place during the Great Depression. His best-known novel is They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935), which was made into a movie of the same name in 1969, fourteen years after McCoy's death.
McCoy was born in Pegram, Tennessee. During World War I McCoy served in the United States Army Air Corps. He flew several missions behind enemy lines as a bombardier and reconnaissance photographer. He was wounded and received the Croix de Guerre for heroism by the government of France.
From 1919 to 1930 he worked as a sports editor for the Dallas Journal in Texas. In the late 1920s he began getting stories published in various pulp mystery magazines.
During the Depression, McCoy moved to Los Angeles in an attempt to become an actor. He worked as an actor in The Hollywood Handicap (1932). A job as a bouncer at a Santa Monica pier provided the inspiration for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, the story of a depression era dance marathon. His novel I Should Have Stayed Home dealt with the experiences of a young Southern actor attempting to find work in 1930s Hollywood. Another novel, No Pockets in a Shroud, featured the paradoxical cliche of a heroic, misunderstood reporter as the protagonist..
McCoy published the noir classic Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in 1948. The story is narrated by the amoral protagonist, Ralph Cotter. It was made into a James Cagney movie of the same name..
In Hollywood, McCoy wrote westerns, crime melodramas, and other films for various studios. Although most of his movie work is unmemorable, McCoy worked with such movie directors as Henry Hathaway, Raoul Walsh, and Nicholas Ray. He was also an uncredited script assistant for King Kong (1933).