Who is Matt Helm? Code name: Eric. In The Wrecking Crew he is described as age 36, hair blond, eyes blue, height 6-4, weight just under 200 pounds, and possessing a "beanpole frame."
Details of his early life are sketchy. Matthew L. Helm was probably born in Minnesota around 1921, the son of Karl M. and Erika Helm. He spent his boyhood in Minnesota, but probably the family moved to the southwest when he was still young. He graduated from high school around 1937. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled in a college or university from which he was quickly ejected for cutting off another student's hand. He enrolled at a second college or university, and subsequently graduated. His parents both died about this time. After working for a while as a news photographer for an Albuquerque newspaper, he joined the U.S. Army. World War II was in progress and, as an "overeager" second-lieutenant, he was recruited into an intelligence unit doing clandestine work in Europe. When the war ended, he left the military and the secret-agent life to become an ordinary citizen.
He married a woman named Elizabeth ("Beth"), who he met while recuperating from war wounds at a hospital in Washington, DC. She was from Connecticut, and was working with the USO. They had three children--Matt, Jr. (probably born around 1947), Warren (probably born around 1949), and Betsy (probably born around 1957). They settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Matt Helm made his living as a photographer and writer of western novels and short stories.
However, the peaceful life and happy marriage of ordinary citizen Helm are destroyed forever with the publication of . . .