It took over fifty years but on Valentine’s Day this year, author and screenwriter Raymond Chandler finally got his wish and he was reunited with his wife. I haven’t read much about this – it was in the Los Angeles Times, and I noted it in the Craig Brown column in the Daily Mail. Craig Brown is a humorous writer, often bursting pompous bubbles. This piece is both straight and quite moving.
Chandler’s wife Cissy was much older than him. She died in 1954 and he never really got over it. He wrote, ‘She was the best of my heart for thirty years, ten months and four days. She was the music heard faintly at the edge of sound.’ He died about three years later, but unfortunately his alcoholism prevented him from properly finalizing the paperwork that would ensure his last resting place was alongside his beloved Cissy.
Then in 2009 Chandler fan Loren Latker unearthed the expressed wish of Chandler to be buried with Cissy. It was a wish, and not legally binding. Loren hired Aissa Wayne, daughter of John Wayne, and after eighteen months of legalities, the Los Angeles judge gave the go-ahead for Cissy Chandler’s ashes to be moved to her husband’s grave in the San Diego cemetery.
A cortege of cars of the Philip Marlowe period, accompanied by Dixieland jazz band, made the ceremony most memorable, and actor Powers Booth, who played Marlowe, attended with other celebrities.
The shared headstone has a quotation from The Big Sleep: Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.