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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 23 July 1888Chicago, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 26 March 1959La Jolla, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameRaymond Thornton Chandler

Mini Bio (1)

An American novelist, writer of crime fiction featuring the private detective Philip Marlowe, Raymond (Thornton) Chandler was born in Chicago of an American father and an Anglo-Irish mother. He moved to England when his parents divorced. He attended Dulwich College and studied languages in France and Germany before returning to England in 1907 and becoming a naturalized British subject. He took a civil service job in the Admiralty, which he left in 1912 to return to America, settling in California. After the US entered World War I he enlisted in the Canadian Army, then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. After the armistice he returned to California and got a series of bookkeeping jobs, finally becoming a vice-president with the Dabney Oil syndicate.

All along, however, he had been submitting stories, poems, sketches and essays to a number of periodicals, but when the Depression hit and the bottom fell out of the oil business, he lost his job and turned to writing full-time. He found a niche with stories of the "hard-boiled" school popularized by Dashiell Hammett, and had many of his early stories accepted by Black Mask, the same mystery magazine that had first published Hammett. His first four novels--"The Big Sleep" (1939, filmed 1946 [The Big Sleep (1946)] and 1978 [The Big Sleep (1978)]); "Farewell My Lovely" (1940, filmed 1944 [Murder, My Sweet (1944)] and 1975 [Farewell, My Lovely (1975)]); "The High Window" (1942, filmed 1947 [The Brasher Doubloon (1947)]); and "The Lady in the Lake (1943, filmed 1946 [Lady in the Lake (1947)])--which reworked plots from some of his short stories, were his most successful.

He spent some time in Hollywood as a screenwriter, contributing to Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), the film noir classic The Blue Dahlia (1946) and Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951). He wrote realistically, in stark contrast to the English style of drawing-room puzzle mysteries where an amateur detective always knows more than the police and clues turn up at just the right moment. Chandler dismissed these plots as "having God sit in your lap."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Paul F. Wilson (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (1)

Pearl Cecily "Cissy" Hurlburt (6 February 1924 - 12 December 1954) (her death)

Trivia (13)

Was in his early 40s before selling his first magazine story.
Legendary detective novelist and occasional screenwriter. Created Philip Marlowe.
Died midway through writing his last Philip Marlowe novel, "Poodle Springs," in 1959. More than three decades later, it was completed by Chandler admirer Robert B. Parker (author of the "Spenser" novels), and became a best-seller.
Encouraged Ian Fleming to continue writing his James Bond novels in the mid 1950s by writing a few words of recommendation to Fleming's American publishers.
His final completed novel, "Playback" was originally written as a screenplay for Universal Studios. After paying him for it, Universal passed on shooting it, so Chandler converted it to a novel.
Like P.G. Wodehouse and Michael Ondaatje, he is one of the literary greats who were students at Dulwich College
He appears in a brief cameo in Double Indemnity (1944). Late in the film he can be seen seated in a chair outside Edward G. Robinson's mezzanine office as Fred MacMurray leaves.
Former journalist and oil executive. First started writing for the pulp magazine "Black Mask" magazine at the age of 45. He wrote the first of the seven novels that made him famous in 1939.
He gave up writing at the age of 22 after the suicide of his friend Richard Middleton. Chandler felt that, if someone as talented as Middleton couldn't make it, he didn't have a chance.
Was of Irish descent and spent many summers in Waterford, Ireland.
He was 50 years old when his first novel was published.
He spent much of his childhood in London, England and became a British citizen in 1907. He did not regain his American citizenship until 1956.
Attended Dulwich College in London, the same school attended by C.S. Forester and P.G. Wodehouse.

Personal Quotes (20)

If my books had been any worse I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better I should not have come.
Television's perfect. You turn a few knobs, a few of those mechanical adjustments at which the higher apes are so proficient, and lean back and drain your mind of all thought. And there you are watching the bubbles in the primeval ooze. You don't have to concentrate. You don't have to react. You don't have to remember. You don't miss your brain because you don't need it. Your heart and liver and lungs continue to function normally. Apart from that, all is peace and quiet. You are in the man's nirvana. And if some poor nasty minded person comes along and says you look like a fly on a can of garbage, pay him no mind. He probably hasn't got the price of a television set.
I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle, so he won't let himself get snotty about it.
The motion picture is like a picture of a lady in a half-piece bathing suit. If she wore a few more clothes, you might be intrigued. If she wore no clothes at all, you might be shocked. But the way it is, you are occupied with noticing that her knees are too bony and that her toenails are too large. The modern film tries too hard to be real. Its techniques of illusion are so perfect that it requires no contribution from the audience but a mouthful of popcorn.
Hollywood has all the personality of a paper cup.
[on attending the Academy Awards for the first (and last) time, 1941] If you can get past those awful idiot faces on the bleachers outside the theater without a sense of the collapse of human intelligence, and if you can go out into the night and see half the police force of Los Angeles gathered to protect the golden ones from the mob in the free seats, but not from the awful moaning sound they give out, like destiny whistling through a hollow shell; if you can do these things and still feel the next morning that the picture business is worth the attention of one single, intelligent, artistic mind, then in the picture business you certainly belong because this sort of vulgarity, the very vulgarity from which the Oscars are made, is the inevitable price that Hollywood exacts from each of its serfs.
A good title is the title of a successful book.
Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid . . . He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
The making of a motion picture is an endless contention of tawdry egos, almost none of them capable of anything more creative than credit stealing and self-promotion.
The Blue Dahlia (1946) wasn't a top-notch film by any means, largely because Veronica Lake couldn't play the love scenes and too much had to be discarded.
[on Ernest Hemingway] He never wrote but one story. All the rest is the same thing in different pants - or without different pants. And his eternal preoccupation with what goes on between the sheets becomes rather nauseating in the end. One reaches a time of life when limericks written on the walls of comfort stations are not just obscene, they are horribly dull. This man has only one subject and he makes that ridiculous.
I am the copyright owner. I can use my material in any way I see fit. There is no more or ethical issue involved.
[on author James M. Cain] Faugh! Everything he touches smells like a billy goat. He is every kind of writer I detest, a faux naif, a [Marcel Proust] in greasy overalls, a dirty boy with a piece of chalk.
[line assigned to private eye, Philip Marlowe] I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a home in the country. What I got was a coat, a hat, and a gun.
I see [Marlowe] always in a lonely street, in lonely rooms, puzzled but never quite defeated.
[on writing] Don't ever write anything you don't like yourself and if you do like it, don't take anyone's advice about changing it. They just don't know.
[on writers] They live over-strained lives in which far too much humanity is sacrificed to far too little art.
[on Hollywood] Wonderful what Hollywood will do to a nobody. It will make a radiant glamor queen out of a drab little wench who ought to be ironing a truck driver's shirts, a he-man hero with shining eyes and a brilliant smile reeking of sexual charm out of some overgrown kid who was meant to go to work with a lunch-box.
[writing tip] When in doubt have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.
[on Hollywood] They don't want you until you have made a name, and by the time you have made a name, you have developed some kind of talent they can't use. All they will do is spoil it, if you let them.

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