Hadley became the inspiration for Death in 1989 as she was friends with artist Mike Dringenberg, who also lived in Salt Lake City. Writer Neil Gaiman originally envisioned Death as resembling singer Niko on the cover of her 1967 album Chelsea Girl, but Dringenberg, who penciled Death’s introduction in August 1989’s “The Sandman” #8, ‘The Sound of Her Wings,’ had other ideas. As Gaiman recalled in The Sandman Companion, “He [Dringenberg] sent me a drawing based on a woman he knew named Cinamon — 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.'”
In a 2011 interview with Slug magazine, Hadley recalled she didn’t think much at the time of Dringenberg’s request to base a comic book character on her, until she found a copy of an issue featuring Death at a friend’s home in Houston, and excitedly called out, “‘Hey, this is me!'” She further revealed Death’s introduction at a fountain was inspired by a time she’d managed to gain enough money to buy a hamburger, and that Dringenberg had used a photo of her taking a bite for a panel of the character’s sunglasses.
Hadley went on to say that being the image of Death an enormous boost of confidence and self-esteem in life, helping meet new people, including her then-girlfriend. At the same time, she also had to deal with obsessed fans, including one who made up a blog post about a relationship with her. However, she denied speculation that Dringenberg may have been infatuated with her, stating, “We were really, really good friends. It makes it hard when you’re that close. I always got the feeling that there was a strong … maybe obsession? But I don’t know that it was unhealthy.” The two lost touch over the years, as Hadley moved from city to city, finding odd jobs, including working as a mime, and running a body-piercing shop.
Gaiman paid tribute to her on Twitter, stating:
Rest in Peace, or head off to your next adventure, Cinamon Hadley. You gave Death of the Endless her face and her smile. https://t.co/lsikh0BHCW
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 6, 2018