Sunday, August 25, 2013

Remembering Truman Capote September 30, 1924 - August 25, 1984

I recall one night during my Freshman year of high school being invited to an overnight at a friend's house to watch a newly released movie called "In Cold Blood"  Needless to say, anyone who has seen the film knows that we probably didn't get much sleep that evening.  The movie was produced from a book of the same name written by Truman Capote.

Born Truman Streckfus Persons in New Orleans, Louisiana, his parents divorced at an early age.  He was raised by his mother's aunt in Monroeville, Alabama.  He was a very smart boy having learned to read at an early age and showed signs of writing at the age of 11.

In 1933, Truman moved with his mother and second husband to New York City and would soon adopt him and rename him Truman Garcia Capote.  Truman attended Trinity School followed by Greenwich High School where he had a job with the school newspaper, "The Green Witch."  He ended his education at the age of 17 and went to work for the "New Yorker" magazine.  He soon began to write for "Mademoiselle" magazine and Truman wrote his
first successful story called "Miriam" that won the O. Henry Award (best first published story) in 1946.  He was soon awarded a contract with "Random House" to write a novel and used the money to write another story called "Other Voices, Other Rooms"A controversial photograph of Capote appeared on his second article that created a great deal of media attention.

Capote was quite a flamboyant character and was extremely outspoken.  He was openly gay.  Capote developed a relationship with another writer by the name of Jack Dumphy who would become Truman's lifetime companion.

In 1959, he became interested in a series of murders (Clutter family) and was fascinated by the story.  He traveled to Holcomb, Kansas to investigate the killings.  Those murders were the basis for his book, "In Cold Blood."  Other writings by Capote were equally popular including "Breakfast at Tiffany's" "House of Flowers" and "A Christmas Memory."  He also wrote another story called "Summer Crossing" that remained on the shelf until 20 years after his death and was published posthumously.

He was also very successful on stage and screen having  completed "House of Flowers" and co-wrote with John Huston "Beat the Devil."

The personal side of Capote included an addiction to alcohol and drugs and his bizarre lifestyle.  He often appeared on television talk shows including the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.  His final years involved numerous trips to rehab clinics.

Truman Capote died at the home of his friend, Joanne Carson, (Johnny's former wife) in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California on August 25, 1984 at the age of 59 from liver cancer.

Following his death, he was cremated and a portion of his cremated remains were given to his longtime companion, Jack Dunphy and the other portion remained with Carson. Carson's portion was once stolen and returned.  His partner, Dunphy died in 1992 and was reported that a portion of Truman was placed in a niche at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles and some
Scattering location at Crooked Pond
Resting Place at Westwood Village
of them were scattered at Crooked Pond near Bridgehampton, New York (a marker pictured) shows the location of scattering.

Funeral folder from Westwood
Capote's Broadway Tribute program
A Tribute to Truman Capote was held on September 25, 1984 (program pictured) in the Shubert Theatre on Broadway.  Author William Styron said of Capote "Here was a writer whose gifts took my breath away.  Here was an artist my age who could make words dance and sing, change colors mysteriously, perform feats of magic, provoke laughter, send a chill up the back, touch the heart ---a full fledged master of the language
before he was old enough to vote."The service ended with Bobby Short singing "Don't Like Goodbyes." His memorial card is also pictured.

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