Who Is Cinamon Hadley? The Inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s Death

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Those who follow Neil Gaiman’s DC comic books would probably be familiar with one of his characters connected to the Sandman storyline. This character’s name is Death, who first appeared in The Sandman back in 1989 and has since become a staple in the DC comic book series. However, Neil Gaiman admitted that Death was the only character that wasn’t his original design, as she was modeled after a real-life person named Cinamon Hadley. So, who is Cinamon Hadley?

Cinamon Hadley is a goth icon and ballerina that was based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was friends with Mike Dringenberg, one of the creators of the Sandman comics. It was Dringenberg who suggested to Gaiman to use her image as a model for Death of the Endless in their comic book series.

While Cinamon Hadley didn’t reach incredible heights of popularity, she was still a great local icon that was popular enough that Neil Gaiman was able to see her as a good model for one of his characters. Of course, while Hadley died in 2018 after succumbing to cancer, she is forever immortalized as the model of Death in Gaiman’s Sandman comic books.

Who Is Neil Gaiman’s Death?

Interest in the Sandman characters is now increasing due to the fact that Netflix will soon release a Sandman series that will surely become one of the biggest series released by the streaming giant in recent months. Of course, the Sandman called Dream is the main character of the series, but there are some interesting characters that have notable comic book counterparts. One such character is Death, who is going to be instrumental in the story of the series. So, who is Neil Gaiman’s death?

Death is the second oldest of the Endless characters in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series. She has existed for billions of years as she is the very personification of death itself, and that means that she could be as old as time itself. Only Destiny, the eldest of the Endless, is older than Death.


Among all of the Endless, who are powerful beings that are older than the gods themselves, Death is the one who is closest to Dream, who is the main character of the Sandman comic book series and is the personification of dreams. Due to her age and wisdom, Death is always the member of the Endless that Dream often goes to whenever he needs some advice.

Death is portrayed to be a bubbly and upbeat person that doesn’t seem to really go well with her appearance as a goth. Nevertheless, she wasn’t always this way because, billions of years ago, Death was quite cold and negative. Still, she managed to develop a more positive outlook mainly because she loves her job and is quite enthusiastic about it.

Who Is Cinamon Hadley?

Of course, while Neil Gaiman was mostly the one who created the Sandman comic book series that featured Death as one of the main recurring characters, he had a lot of help from Mike Dringenberg, who also had his own ideas regarding the characters because he is one of the co-creators of the Sandman.

In fact, Neil Gaiman admitted that, out of all the characters in the Sandman, Death is the only important character that didn’t come from his imagination or original design. Instead, it was Dringenberg that suggested the design for Death, and this woman was Cinamon Hadley. In relation to that, Gaiman said:

“Death is the only major character whose visuals didn’t spring from me; that credit goes to Mike Dringenberg. In my original Sandman outline, I suggested Death look like rock star Nico in 1968, with the perfect cheekbones and perfect face she has on the cover of her Chelsea Girl album.

But Mike Dringenberg had his own ideas, so he sent me a drawing based on a woman he knew named Cinamon Hadley—the drawing that was later printed in Sandman 11—and I looked at it and had the immediate reaction of, “Wow. That’s really cool.” Later that day, Dave McKean and I went to dinner in Chelsea at the My Old Dutch Pancake House, and the waitress who served us was a kind of vision. She was American, had long black hair, was dressed entirely in black—black jeans, T-shirt, etc.—and wore a big silver ankh on a silver necklace. And she looked exactly like Mike Dringenberg’s drawing of Death.”

Of course, the fact that Death was modeled after a real-life person is amazing, considering that most comic book characters are usually made from a person’s imagination with a bit of inspiration from a lot of different real-life sources. But it is quite amazing that Death of the Endless is simply a real-life person named Cinamon Hadley. So, who is Cinamon Hadley?

Cinamon Hadley is a punk and goth icon in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is also a well-known dancer and ballerina that began dancing when she was around eight years old. Since then, dancing has become one of her passions in life.

Eventually, Hadley became interested in the gothic scene, and her mother was more than supportive enough to allow her to express herself through her look, fashion, and brand of ballet. She eventually became a local icon in terms of her fashion and makeup as she was able to put the glam in the goth scene.


Cinamon Hadley was friends with Mike Dringenberg, who asked if he could use her as the model for Death in the Sandman characters. But the thing was that Hadley didn’t even know anything about comic books but still agreed to do it. She completely forgot about being the model for Death until a friend showed her a copy of a Sandman comic book a few years later.


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That was when she saw herself in Death, who immediately reminded her that she was the model for the character. As such, Cinamon Hadley became more interested in Neil Gaiman’s work, considering that her image was used for one of the main characters of the series.

What Happened To Cinamon Hadley?

Later on in her life, Cinamon Hadley was diagnosed with cancer. After the diagnosis, money was raised for her treatment. However, despite the treatment, the cancer returned. She was able to raise money for more treatments but eventually succumbed to cancer.

Cinamon Hadley passed away from a long battle with cancer on January 6, 2018. Neil Gaiman was kind enough to offer a few words regarding Hadley’s impact on him while thanking her for lending her image and smile to Death of the Endless.

Who Plays Death In Netflix’s The Sandman?

While Death may have been modeled after Cinamon Hadley, Neil Gaiman and the leading names behind the upcoming The Sandman live-action series on Netflix cast Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death. Howell-Baptiste has appeared in productions like The Good Place and Cruella.

Even though it was Gaiman who chose some of the actors to play the role of his creations, there were people who actually didn’t like the fact that a Black woman was cast as Death, who has always been White in the comics. However, Gaiman defended the choice of casting Howell-Baptiste.

But Death was never Caucasian White in the comics because she was just literally white in terms of her skin color. That means that, while she was modeled after Cinamon Hadley, she isn’t necessarily Caucasian. In that sense, Gaiman was free to choose who he wanted to put in the role of Death, considering that the character never had a race in the comics.

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