Tuesday, June 1, 2010

J.J. Armes - Double Amputee Detective

J.J. Armes (birth name Julian Armas) is widely known as one of the best private investigators in the world. In 1958, after spending time in California pursuing an acting career, Armes returned to his hometown of El Paso, Texas and founded his own private investigative agency. "The Investigators Private Security Force" became extremely successful - counting Howard Hughes, Elizabeth Taylor, and Elvis Presley among its clients. Armes even rescued Marlon Brando's son Christopher from kidnappers. While all of this is indicative of Armes' focus and expertise, it is even more impressive considering, that at age twelve, Armes lost his hands in an accident involving railroad explosives.

Armes was outfitted with steel prosthetics which were eventually customized "James Bond style" enabling him to fire machine guns, cut through steel, and even thread a needle. In the 70's Armes also had a miniaturized .22 Magnum implanted into his wrist after an unsuccessful attempt on his life. His biography was penned by Fred Nolan in 1976 which led to his celebrity status, roles on "Hawaii Five-0" and "Mannix", and a toy line by the Ideal Corporation. He dropped out of the public eye shortly thereafter as he and his son secured their reputations, winning domestic government contracts and industrial security jobs through his company in El Paso.

In 1993 Hollywood came calling yet again, producing a TV movie/pilot based on the intrepid amputee. While it didn't get picked up for a series, that didn't stop other producers from seeing the entertainment potential of his story. Marvel Comics executive and creator Stan Lee approached "Uncanny X-Men" writer Scott Lobdell in 2005 to create a superhero movie based on Armes' legend. Considering Armes can reach into open fires, draw and trigger a bullet with amazing accuracy, pilot jets, and utilize deadly Karate chops - a superhero in his mold isn't far off the mark.

In his autobiography, Armes relates an experience he had with a client who had hired him to get the goods on her husband. It turned out that the husband, a well known actor, was having an affair -- with another man. Distraught, the client made a pass at Armes, revealing her breasts, and asking "Is there anything wrong with these?" Armes allegedly replied "That's not what you hired me for."

The man is a true professional with a seemingly indomitable will. He explains his success in the simplest of terms - "I never quit."

And yes - I did have a J.J. Armes action figure when I was six years old - and it was awesome.

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