Anais Nin Husband, Rupert Pole Dies in L.A.

Scott Simon talks about the life and love of writer Anais Nin. She had two husbands — one in New York and the other in Los Angeles, Rupert Pole, who died this month in Los Angeles.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

The Los Angeles Times this week noted the death of a handsome former actor named Rupert Pole, who left New York in 1947 to become a forest ranger in California. He drove across the country with Anais Nin, the famous diarist. They'd locked eyes in an elevator just a few weeks before and later married. But there was a complication.

Anais Nin was already married. As a bigamist she balanced two marriages for 11 years before divorcing Rupert Pole, but she stayed with him until the end of her life.

Deirdre Bair wrote an biography of Anaïs Nin. She joins us from New Haven, Connecticut. Ms. Bair, thanks for being with us.

Ms. DEIRDRE BAIR (Biographer): Oh, thank you. It's a pleasure.

SCOTT: Must've been some elevator ride. What happened?

Ms. BAIR: Well, independently they were on their way to a party. They both got into the same elevator and were delighted to find that they were getting off on the same floor and going into the same place. And they locked eyes, started to talk and never stopped.

SCOTT: So Rupert Pole, this magnetically handsome, invariably described as a Greek statue, actor, became a forest ranger and essentially Anaïs Nin's California husband. She had a New York husband, Hugh Guiler.

Ms. BAIR: Yes, that's correct. She married Hugh Guiler, whom she always called Hugo, when she was very young. She was 17 or 18 years old. And she stayed with him all her life. He was a banker. His bank sent him to Paris, which is, of course, where she met Henry Miller and her life as a diarist and writer really began.

But they were living in New York after the war in 1947. And Rupert was 20 years younger than Anaïs. And here she was a woman in her 40s attracted to this stunningly handsome man who was a failure as an actor. He was so shy. He could never get in front of a camera.

SCOTT: How did she manage to keep the two husbands apart by a continent and, as I gather, not even really knowing about each other for years?

Ms. BAIR: She called it her bicoastal trapeze. And she set up these elaborate facades in Los Angeles and in New York. But it became so complicated that she had to create something she called the lie box. She had this absolutely enormous purse and in the purse she had two sets of checkbooks. One said Anaïs Guiler for New York and another said Anaïs Pole for Los Angeles.

She had prescription bottles from California doctors and New York doctors with the two different names. And she had a collection of file cards. And she said I tell so many lies I have to write them down and keep them in the lie box so I can keep them straight.

SCOTT: And I gather that she maintained this fiction so successfully that when Anaïs Nin died in the late 1970s, there were two separate obits, in the L.A. Times and the New York Times, that listed the two separate husbands.

Ms. BAIR: That's correct. She knew she had cancer and she knew that she had to straighten out her legal affairs. By this time Hugh Guiler was old and ill and had spent most of his money, and she needed to take care of him. So at that point she told Rupert everything. And Hugo was no dummy. Hugo knew from almost the beginning what she was doing there in California, but he chose not to know.

SCOTT: How do I phrase this? Rupert Pole did one last favor for Hugh Guiler, if I might put it that way.

Ms. BAIR: Yes, exactly. After Hugo died, Rupert arranged that his ashes were scattered into a place called Mermaid Cove off the Pacific coast, which was the same place where Anaïs's ashes were scattered. Hugo and Rupert were Aquarius and Anaïs was a Pisces. And they all made a great deal of astrological signs. So water and mermaids were very appropriate for them.

SCOTT: Do we know about what Mr. Pole wanted with his remains?

Ms. BAIR: Well, all the people who are close to him say that it is, quote unquote, highly likely that his ashes will be scattered in Mermaid Cove as well.

SCOTT: I wonder if in the end that Rupert Pole felt that this was a great, ennobling, enriching, enlivening relationship of his life, or did he feel a little emotionally swindled?

Ms. BAIR: No. He didn't feel emotionally swindled. He believed to the very end that the most important aspect of his life was his having been the companion, husband, lover of Anaïs Nin. Anaïs was the love of his life.

SCOTT: Ms. Bair, nice talking to you.

Ms. BAIR: Thank you.

SCOTT: Deirdre Bair, author of a biography of the diarist Anaïs Nin, the bigamist wife of Rupert Pole who died this month.

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