Chamblee54

Truman Capote

Posted in Book Reports, Commodity Wisdom, Georgia History, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on March 30, 2019


Truman Capote was a phenomenon of the TV talk show era. If he hadn’t existed, someone would have had to invent him. He was known as much for his sissy voice as his writing. Becoming famous in the late forties for “Other Voices, Other Rooms”, he worked on a screenplay for “Beat the Devil”. When he met the men accused of killing the Clutter family in Kansas, he impressed one by telling him he worked on a movie with Humphrey Bogart. These chats led to the book “In Cold Blood”, which was probably his biggest triumph. “Breakfast at Tiffanys” became a movie starring Audrey Hepburn.

He was on the Dick Cavett Show the same night as Georgia Governor Lester Maddox. After Maddox got offended and walked off the show, Mr.Capote remembered the time he ate at Maddox’s Pickrick restaurant.
“All I can say is that it wasn’t finger licking good”.
Mr. Capote was the darling of certain New York socialites. They unwisely told him some stories about their lives. In 1975 Esquire magazine published “La Côte Basque 1965”. It was a chapter from “Answered Prayers”, the book he received a large advance for and took his time writing. (It was finally published three years after his death) .The chapter published told some sordid tales about his jet set friends, who immediately ostracized him. It was a stepping stone on his road to ruin.

One chapter of “Answered Prayers” involves a dinner party in New York. Three of the guests were Dorothy Parker, Tallulah Bankhead, and Montgomery Clift. The evening never got past the cocktail hour, much to the distress of the hostess. At one point, Miss Parker was tenderly touching the face of Mr. Clift. She purred “He’s so beautiful,sensitive. So finely made. The most beautiful young man I have ever seen. What a pity he’s a cocksucker. Oh Oh, dear, have I said something wrong. I mean, he is a cocksucker, isn’t he Tallulah? Miss Bankhead replied ” Well d-d-darling, I r-r-really wouldn’t know. He’s never sucked my cock.”

In the spring of 1976, Mr. Capote gave a speech at the University of Georgia. At the time, there was a comic strip called “Don Q”, which has long been forgotten. It showed people in medieval clothes making comments on current affairs. On the day of the speech, the comic featured two characters. One was Richard Nixon. The other was as lisping little man, apparently based on Truman Capote.

The scene that evening was magic. The lecture was given on the steps of Memorial Hall, with the audience in the quadrangle in front of Reed Hall. Mr. Capote’s contract specified a pink spotlight, and a wicker chair behind the podium. Mr. Capote spoke for a while, and read a section out of “A Christmas Memory”. After a break, he returned to answer questions. The questions were written on file cards, and read by a student. The last one, and the one the reader said best typified the attitude of the evening, was “What does Johnny Carson look like in person?”

After this, Mr. Capote asked for questions from the crowd. PG raised my hand, and Mr. Capote pointed to him.
“Mr. Capote, did you see the comic strip Don Q this morning?” “No, what was it about?” ” It was about you, and Richard Nixon” “I don’t know who Don Q is, and I am beginning to not know who Richard Nixon is.”
Mr. Capote went downhill from this point on. He did a series of profiles for “Interview” magazine, which formed the basis of his last book ” Music for Chameleons”. His drinking and drug taking, always a problem, got worse. He became an embarrassment to those who once flocked to his side.

Truman Capote died in 1984. This is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of Congress


PG wasn’t really doing anything, and was in the mood for a google wild goose chase. This led to an amazing article, Sweet as Sugar, Rude as Hell, My Lost Interview with Truman Capote’s Aunt. A writer for the fishwrapper went to a mobile home in Hudson, FL. He talked to Marie Rudisill, who was best known as Truman Capote’s “Aunt Tiny.” The meeting took place in 1997, and was not what the writer expected. A family friendly version of the meeting was published The journalist received a slice of fruitcake in the mail. Everyone concerned went on with their lives.

Marie Rudisill died November 3, 2006, after becoming famous as the Fruitcake Lady. As for the journalist: “When I left The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2009, I stashed 27 years of old newspapers, tapes and ephemera in my garage. Nothing is more depressing to me than those boxes of old newspapers. It’s my own private morgue — replete with the sickening scent of dust and roach pills…. When I finally mustered the courage to dig around, I found the Lewis interviews — as well as a cache of other recordings. Three of the tapes had Rudisill’s name scribbled on them. I was not quite ready to listen, though. I put them in a box and labeled it.”

In 1924, Truman Streckfus Persons was born in New Orleans LA. His mother, Lillie Mae (Aunt Tiny’s older sister) left here husband behind, and took the boy to Monroeville AL. They lived in a wild household. A neighbor was Harper Lee, who wrote “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Miss Lee was a close friend, as was Sook. This is Truman’s cousin, the fruitcake chef herone of “A Christmas Memory.”

After a while, Lillie Mae married Joe Capote, who adopted the boy. They moved to New York, where Aunt Tiny joined them. Truman was sent to military school. Everyone, except Lillie Mae, thought this was a terrible idea. The effort to butch up young Truman did not work.

Aunt Tiny wrote a book, Truman Capote: The Story of His Bizarre and Exotic Boyhood by an Aunt Who Helped Raise Him. It was published in 1983, a year before Truman died. “The book scandalized Monroeville — and Capote. He told The Washington Post: “If there are 20 words of truth in it, I will go up on a cross to save humanity.” Said Harper Lee: “I have never seen so many misstatements of fact per sentence as in that book.”

There is one story that sticks out…. “Rudisill breaks down just once during our interview. It’s when she recalls “the first time Truman ever had a sexual encounter with a priest.” She was living in Greenwich Village, having followed Lillie Mae and Truman to New York. “He was sitting on my doorstep when I came home from work, and he had blood all in his pants, and then he told me about this priest. And nobody, I don’t think anybody in the world ever knew that but me.”

There is more to the story. If you have the time, you might enjoy reading the full article. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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It is 3:15 am in a midtown office building. PG is spending his dinner break in an unused cubicle, almost out of speaker range for the break room tv. A flourescent light fixture is hard at work, playing an essential role in the drama to follow.

Thirty seven years ago, Truman Capote spoke in Athens GA. Before taking questions, he read “A Christmas Memory.” There was a line, with the words oh, and carnage, that got a big laugh.

Wednesday afternoon had been the first time to turn on the window AC unit. Outside, it was over ninety, with the Georgia humidity doubling the effect. The next two months will be miserable.

During this early morning dinner, after the first day of summer megaheat, PG is reading “A Christmas Memory”. An old lady, and the seven year old cousin she calls Buddy, are going to make fruitcakes. They need to buy supplies.

The previous summer, someone gave Buddy a penny for every 25 flies he killed. “Oh, the carnage of August: the flies that flew to heaven”. It is now 3:28. In two minutes, it will be time to go back to work. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The fruitcake lady was the aunt of Truman Capote. This is a repost.

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