The improvement in the couple’s financial circumstances resulting from Werfel’s success as a novelist enabled them to buy a more comfortable villa in Beverly Hills, at 610 Bedford Drive, where the conductor Bruno Walter would later become their neighbour. Werfel often retreated to Santa Barbara to work, a geographical separation which enabled the couple to retain common ground despite the massive differences between them, and to keep the relationship stable over 25 years.
Not far from the new villa lived not only Friedrich Torberg, but also the actor Ernst Deutsch, a friend of Werfel’s from his youth, the composer Arnold Schoenberg and his wife, and Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife. Author Erich Maria Remarque became Alma’s drinking companion; after the first time they partied through the night, he gave her a bottle of Russian vodka hidden in a huge bunch of flowers.
During the night of 13 September 1943, Franz Werfel suffered a massive heart attack, from which he only gradually recovered during the first half of 1944. In the summer of 1945 he was just completing his utopian novel “Star of the Unborn” when his state of health dramatically worsened. On 26 August 1945, he suffered a further, fatal heart attack.
Alma herself did not attend the funeral. Father Georg Moenius gave the eulogy; in his address he went into the baptism rites of the Catholic church in great detail, which led to speculation that Alma had arranged for Werfel to have a last minute “emergency baptism” after his death.
Franz Werfel left behind on the one hand an extensive body of work, which Alma now embarked on organizing, and on the other hand a “Grande Veuve”, who increasingly tried to overcome her loneliness with the help of her favourite cognac, Bénédictine.
Alma moved in 1952 to New York.
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