BW - EP130—001: Philip Marlowe Comes To Radio—Who Was Raymond Chandler

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La Jolla, California. 1947. We’re at 6005 Camino de la Costa at the home of Raymond Chandler. It’s been three years since the fifty-nine year-old wrote a full length novel. Instead he’s worked on two screen plays. Chandler co-adapted Double Indemnity with Billy Wilder, and penned The Blue Dahlia. Both earned him Academy Award nominations. Looking for more income, his agent has negotiated a deal for Chandler to help bring a thirteen-week summer series to NBC. It’ll sub for Bob Hope on Tuesday nights. The main character? Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe. To date Marlowe had been the focal point of four novels and four films — including two almost simultaneously released this past winter. This will, however, be the first time that Philip Marlowe comes to radio’s airwaves in a regular show. Tonight, we’ll go back in time and spotlight that summer’s highest-rated replacement series The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, starring Van Heflin. ___________ Raymond Chandler was born on July 23rd, 1888 in Chicago, Illinois. He spent his early years in Nebraska until his father, an alcoholic railway civil engineer, abandoned the family. In 1900 his Irish mother Florence moved with Raymond to England. Chandler went to Dulwich College in London. In 1907 he became a naturalized British subject and took a job as an Admiral, but resigned. He grabbed a reporter position at the Daily Express and later the Westminster Gazette. Unhappy in England, Chandler wanted to be a writer, so he returned to America in 1912. He settled in San Francisco, where he took a correspondence course in bookkeeping. His mother joined him there soon after. They moved to Los Angeles in 1913, where he strung tennis rackets, picked fruit, and found steady employment with the Los Angeles Creamery. But then, The U.S. and Canada finally joined World War I. In 1917 Chandler enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He saw combat in the trenches in France and was twice hospitalized with Spanish flu. He was in flight training with the Royal Air Force when the war ended. He returned to Los Angeles and began a love affair with Cissy Pascal, a married woman eighteen years his senior. She amicably divorced her husband in 1920, but Chandler's mother disapproved of the relationship and refused to sanction the marriage. For the next four years Chandler supported both. His mother passed away in 1923. Raymond married Cissy on February 6th, 1924. Having begun in 1922 as a bookkeeper and auditor, by 1931 he was a highly paid VP at the Dabney Oil Syndicate. But he suffered frequent mental health breakdowns. He drank too much, skipped work, was promiscuous with female employees, and he publicly threatened suicide. Chandler was fired in 1932. Detective and suspense shows had been on radio since the medium’s inception. They were often similar to dime store novels. Sherlock Holmes began in 1930. Chandler taught himself to write pulp-style fiction by analyzing a novelette by Erle Stanley Gardner. His first story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in Black Mask Magazine in 1933. His lead character was called “Mallory.” It took him five months to finish the story. Erle Stanley Gardner wrote entire stories in three or four days. He later said, “Wandering up and down the Pacific Coast in an automobile, I began to read pulp magazines. This was in the great days of Black Mask. It struck me that some of the writing was pretty forceful and honest, even though it had a crude aspect. I decided that this might be a good way to try to learn to write fiction and get paid a small amount of money at the same time. I spent five months on an eighteen-thousand word novelette and sold it for one-hundred-eighty dollars. After that I never looked back, although I had many uneasy periods looking forward.”

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