Truman Capote  

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"Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, William Styron — perhaps half-a-dozen others approaching or just past thirty — have numerous admirers, but it is clear that their impact on young intellectuals has not been remotely comparable to that made on a previous generation by Fitzgerald." -- "Born 1930: The Unlost Generation" by Caroline Bird, Harper's Bazaar, Feb. 1957

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Truman Capote (30 September, 192425 August, 1984) was an American writer some of whose stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays.


Capote was 5 feet 3 inches tall (1 metre and 62 centimeters) and openly homosexual in a time when it was socially acceptable among artists, but rarely talked about. One of his first serious lovers was Smith College literature professor Newton Arvin, who won the National Book Award for his Herman Melville biography.

Capote was well known for his distinctive, high-pitched voice and odd vocal mannerisms, his offbeat manner of dress and his fabrications. He often claimed to intimately know people he had in fact never met, such as Greta Garbo. He professed to have had numerous liaisons with men thought to be heterosexual, including, he claimed, Errol Flynn. He traveled in eclectic circles, hobnobbing with authors, critics, business tycoons, philanthropists, Hollywood and theatrical celebrities, royalty, and members of high society, both in the U.S. and abroad. Part of his public persona was a long-standing rivalry with writer Gore Vidal ("Truman Capote has tried, with some success, to get into a world that I have tried, with some success, to get out of."). Their rivalry prompted Tennessee Williams to complain: "You would think they were running neck-and-neck for some fabulous gold prize." Apart from his favorite authors (Willa Cather, Isak Dinesen, Marcel Proust), Capote had faint praise for other writers. However, one who did get his favorable endorsement was journalist Lacey Fosburgh, author of Closing Time: The True Story of the Goodbar Murder (1977). He also claimed an admiration for Andy Warhol's The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B & Back Again.

Capote in TV, film and theater

Truman Capote's childhood experiences are captured in the 1956 memoir "A Christmas Memory," which he adapted for television and narrated. Directed by Frank Perry, it aired on December 21, 1966, on ABC Stage 67, and featured Geraldine Page in an Emmy Award-winning performance. The teleplay was later incorporated into Perry's 1969 anthology film Trilogy (aka Truman Capote's Trilogy), which also includes adaptations of "Miriam" and "Among the Paths to Eden." The TV movie Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory, with Patty Duke and Piper Laurie, was a 1997 remake, directed by Glenn Jordan.

In 1961 Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's about a flamboyant New York party girl named Holly Golightly was filmed by director Blake Edwards and starred Audrey Hepburn in what many consider her defining role, though Capote never approved of the toning down of the story to appeal to mass audiences.

Capote narrated his The Thanksgiving Visitor (1967), a sequel to A Christmas Memory, filmed by Frank Perry in Pike Road, Alabama. Geraldine Page again won an Emmy for her performance in this hour-long teleplay.

In Cold Blood was filmed twice. When Richard Brooks directed In Cold Blood, the 1967 adaptation with Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, he filmed at the actual Clutter house and other Holcomb, Kansas, locations. Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts headed the cast of the 1996 In Cold Blood miniseries, directed by Jonathan Kaplan.

Neil Simon's 1976 murder mystery spoof Murder by Death provided Capote's main role as an actor, portraying reclusive millionaire Lionel Twain who invites the world's leading detectives together to a dinner party to have them solve a murder. The performance brought him a Golden Globe Award nomination (Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture). Early in the film it is alleged that Twain has ten fingers but no pinkies. In truth, Capote's pinkie fingers were unusually large. In the film, Capote's character is highly critical of the detective fiction of the like of Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett.

In Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), there is a scene in which Alvy (Allen) and Annie (Diane Keaton) are observing passersby in the park. Alvy comments, "Oh, there goes the winner of the Truman Capote Look-Alike Contest." The passerby is actually Truman Capote (who appeared in the film uncredited).

Other Voices, Other Rooms came to theater screens in 1995 with David Speck in the lead role of Joel Sansom. Reviewing this atmospheric Southern Gothic film in the New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote:

One of the things the movie does best is transport you back in time and into nature. In the early scenes as Joel leaves his aunt's home to travel across the South by rickety bus and horse and carriage, you feel the strangeness, wonder and anxiety of a child abandoning everything that's familiar to go to a place so remote he has to ask directions along the way. The landscape over which he travels is so rich and fertile that you can almost smell the earth and sky. Later on, when Joel tussles with Idabell (Aubrey Dollar), a tomboyish neighbor who becomes his best friend (a character inspired by the author Harper Lee), the movie has a special force and clarity in its evocation of the physical immediacy of being a child playing outdoors.

Capote's short story "Children on Their Birthdays", another look back at a small-town Alabama childhood, was brought to film by director Mark Medoff in 2002.

With Love from Truman (1966), a 29-minute documentary by David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, shows a Newsweek reporter interviewing Capote at his beachfront home in Long Island. Capote talks about In Cold Blood, his relationship with the murderers and his coverage of the trial. He is also seen taking Alvin Dewey and his wife around New York City for the first time. Originally titled A Visit with Truman Capote, this film was commissioned by National Educational Television and shown on the NET network.

On February 22, 1982, British new wave pop star and electronic music pioneer Gary Numan released his eighth single, "Music For Chameleons." The A side appeared on his fourth studio album, I, Assassin. The single reached the #19 spot on the U.K. singles chart. Numan is a Truman Capote fan and although the title clearly refers to Capote's book, the song itself contains no references to the original short story.

In 1990, Robert Morse received both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Capote in the one-man show, Tru. In 1992, he recreated the performance for the PBS series American Playhouse and won an Emmy Award for his performance.

Paul Williams appears as Capote in The Doors (1991) introducing Jim Morrison to Andy Warhol.

Louis Negin portrayed Capote in 54 (1998). A reference is made to Capote as just having had a face lift, and the song "Knock on Wood" is dedicated to him.

Sam Street is seen briefly as Capote in Isn't She Great? (2000), a biographical comedy-drama about Jacqueline Susann. Michael J. Burg has appeared as Capote in two films, The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000) and The Hoax (2006), about Clifford Irving.

Truman Capote: The Tiny Terror is a documentary that aired April 6, 2004, as part of A&E's Biography series, followed by a 2005 DVD release.

In July 2005, Oni Press published comic book artist and writer Ande Parks' Capote in Kansas: A Drawn Novel, a fictionalized account of Capote and Lee researching In Cold Blood.

Director Bennett Miller made his dramatic feature debut with the biopic Capote (2005). Spanning the years Truman Capote spent researching and writing In Cold Blood, the film depicts Capote's conflict between his compassion for his subjects and self-absorbed obsession with finishing the book. Capote garnered much critical acclaim when it was released (September 30, 2005 in the US and February 24, 2006 in the UK). Dan Futterman's screenplay was based on the book Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke. Capote received five Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance earned him many awards, including a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Infamous (2006), which stars Toby Jones as Capote and Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee, is an adaptation of George Plimpton's Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career (1997).

Due to the numerous depictions of Capote on film, the satirical newspaper The Onion published a 2006 article: "Oscars Create New Truman Capote Biopic Category."

In 1994, actor and writer Bob Kingdom created the one-man theatre piece The Truman Capote Talk Show, in which he played Capote looking back over his life. Originally performed at the Lyric Studio Theatre, Hammersmith, London, the piece has proved very successful and has toured widely within the UK and internationally.

In the Charles Bukowski poem, "Nothing but a Scarf," Capote is referred to as an 'ice-skater-of-a-writer'. Bukowski goes on to write about how his fast life eventually led to his downfall and how 'he never had his nose rubbed into life'.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Truman Capote" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

See also

See Capote (film)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Truman Capote" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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