Who’s That Author? Truman Capote

Which Truman Capote do you know? The author who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood? The life of the party and confidante of New York socialites? The host of the famous 1966 Black and White Ball in New York? The frequent guest on The Dick Cavett Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Mike Douglas Show? He was all of these.

Truman Capote (1924 – 1984) was an American author who wrote fiction, nonfiction and plays. Capote had a big personality and loved to mingle and gossip with high society. A flamboyant dresser with eccentric taste, Capote was open about his homosexuality. He was also a serious writer, dedicated to his craft.

Capote was born in New Orleans. His father was a con-man and his parents separated when he was a toddler. He spent his early years with relatives in Alabama, where he became childhood friends with Harper Lee. When Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, she based the character, Dill, on Capote. Friends for life, Lee would later help him with his research for In Cold Blood.

Capote’s mother remarried in 1933, moved to New York, and Capote joined them. Even with his mother in New York, he felt lonely and abandoned and spent much of his time inventing stories, knowing for certain he would become a writer.

As an adult in New York, Capote worked for the New Yorker and wrote several stories for Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle. His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was published in 1948 and is a semi-autobiographical account of coming to terms with his sexuality.

In Cold Blood, the story of a Kansas family murdered in 1959, won critical acclaim and marked the peak of Capote’s success. It was at this point when he began a life of excess, much of which is documented on his talk show appearances. Capote died at age fifty-nine, leaving behind a great collection of work for modern readers to study.

Selected other works by Truman Capote:
The Grass Harp (1951)
A Christmas Memory (1966)
House of Flowers (1968)
Answered Prayers: the Unfinished Novel (1987)

Check out these memorable talk show appearances!
Truman Capote on Dick Cavett in 1971, with Groucho Marx Part 1
Truman Capote on Dick Cavett in 1971, with Groucho Marx Part 2

Thanks to the following sources:
Encyclopedia of Alabama
Truman Capote on imdb.com

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is an excellent fictionalized account of Capote and his famous socialite swans.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


Book Preview: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's book cover

Thinking about books that have been made into movies reminded me of the 1961 movie classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Although I’ve seen the movie many times, I’ve never read the 1950 novella, which was written by Truman Capote.

Breakfast at Tiffany's movie
Here’s the movie version, starring Audrey Hepburn

Last night, I spent the evening reading about Truman Capote and watching an A&E Biography about him. Then I watched a bunch of Capote interviews on YouTube with David Frost, Dick Cavett, and William F. Buckley.

truman capote pic
Truman Capote

Truman Capote (1924-1984) was an American author of fiction and non-fiction, including novels, short stories and plays. He loved being the center of attention and was also a well-known figure on the New York social scene. His first novel, Other Places, Other Rooms, was published in 1948 and is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who, like Capote, confronts and embraces his homosexuality. Although Capote’s fiction had gained great attention, it was In Cold Blood, a work he called his “non-fiction novel” (1966) which launched him into his greatest fame. In Cold Blood, which was also made into a movie in 1967 and stars Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, became an immediate best-seller and one of the most profitable books in publishing history. Capote spent five years researching the 1959 murder of a family in a small town in Western Kansas. Capote was great childhood friends with Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and she helped him with his research for In Cold Blood.  His research included extensive interviews with the convicted killers and Capote developed an intense relationship with one of the men before they were executed. In Cold Blood was his last published book while Capote was alive.

In 1966, Capote threw a lavish party for his New York friends, called the “Black and White Ball” in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Plaza. It was the most talked-about event for years to follow. He continued to work on his tell-all novel, Answered Prayers, published posthumously. But Capote’s social downfall came after Esquire Magazine published a chapter excerpt from this book (“La Côte Basque 1965”), said to reveal intimate secrets of many of his real female friends.

Capote spent the rest of his years partying and celebrating his fame on the interview circuit. He was a regular at New York’s Studio 54. He struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and died just short of his sixtieth birthday.

Capote had a style all his own and was very sharp and witty and, before his social downfall, was well-loved among socialites. I think his interviews are fascinating, very funny and a little bit sad.

Now I’m ready to start reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Many thanks to Google Images, YouTube, Biography.com and Wikipedia!

Truman Garcia Capote. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 06:59, Sep 24, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/truman-capote-9237547.




Picture of Truman Capote: http://sunpeople77im.com/truman-capote.html