Raoul Falconia Whitfield
November 22, 1896
New York, U.S.
|Died||January 24, 1945 (aged 48)|
Emily Davies Vanderbilt Thayer
(m. 1933; her death 1935)
Whitfield was born in New York on November 22, 1896. He was the son of Mabelle P. Whitfield and William H. Whitfield, a civil servant.
In 1916, Whitfield fell ill and was returned to the U.S. for treatment. After recovering, Whitfield traveled to Hollywood and worked as a silent-film actor. Later, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served in the Flying Cadets in the last months of World War I.
Whitfield began writing for pulp magazines in 1924, and first appeared in Black Mask in 1926. Black Mask would become Whitfield's main market; the magazine's editor Joseph Shaw described Whitfield as a "hard, patient, determined worker". Whitfield became best known in the magazine for his stories about Jo Gar, a Filipino detective. These stories, set in the cosmopolitan boiling pot of inter-war Manila, were published collectively in 2002 as Jo Gar's Casebook' (Crippen & Landru).
Whitfield befriended Dashiell Hammett during his tenure on the magazine. In addition to Black Mask, Whitfield also wrote fiction for Adventure, Air Trails, War Stories, Battle Stories, Blue Book, Everybody's Magazine, Boys' Life and Breezy Stories.
Whitfield's debut novel, Green Ice, was published in 1930. In the New York Evening Post, Hammett praised Green Ice: "Here are 280 pages of naked action pounded into tough compactness by staccato, hammerlike writing".
Whitfield ceased writing fiction and moved to Hollywood in the late 1930s. Although he was fairly wealthy, by the 1940s he had lost most of his money. Later, Whitfield contracted tuberculosis and had to be hospitalized.
Whitfield was married twice. His first marriage was to a fellow reporter. Shortly after marrying, they quit their jobs and went to Florida, where he began writing full time. They eventually divorced.
In 1933, Whitfield married Emily O'Neill (née Davies) Vanderbilt Thayer (1903–1935). Emily was the former wife of William Henry Vanderbilt III, son of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, and Sigourney Thayer, which both ended in divorce. She was the daughter of Frederick Martin Davies, granddaughter of Daniel O'Neill, owner of the Pittsburgh Dispatch newspaper, and the grandniece of Frederick Townsend Martin, a prominent writer of the 1920s. After beginning divorce proceedings, Emily committed suicide by self-inflicted bullet wound in 1935. Whitfield was his wife's sole heir.
Victor A. Berch. An older essay at BlackMaskMagazine.comEverybody's Magazine
Everybody's Magazine was an American magazine published from 1899 to 1929. The magazine was headquartered in New York City.