Tuesday, November 07, 2006
truman capote

Many moons ago...like maybe 38 years (give or take a few months here and there), my father and his fourth and last wife, Olga, had a little house in La Quinta, Ca. a desert area that is near Palm Springs. La Quinta had been a kind of retreat for many many people who loved the desert but wanted to be outside of Palm Springs, in a quieter more secluded atmosphere....See, there is Palm Springs, then Cathedral City, then Palm Desert and then, La Quinta....as the crow flies.
Back in 1962...before they were married, Daddy Joe and Olga had come to Los Angeles to visit and then went down to La Quinta where they stayed at the only Hotel that was there at that time...the La Quinta Hotel...a famous and very beautiful one-story hotel built I believe in the 1920's....They loved the area. After they were married they decided somewhere along the way that they would find a little house to buy, and then they would spend the winter months there...Connecticut and New York being too cold for DJ.


But, that first time that they traveled to La Quinta they told other guests---people that they met at the hotel---that Olga was his daughter (don't ask)...Daddy was a very old fashioned man and didn't feel comfortable about meeting people while traveling with a woman who was not his wife, so it was easier to say she was his daughter. (In fact he married his third wife for that very reason….he was traveling to France and was going to meet some “important people”…that was really funny because practically every ‘important’ man that he might meet in Franc had a mistress and wouldn’t have thought anything about it….) So, they had rented one of the 2 Bedroom cottages that the La Quinta Hotel had available to carry out this father-daughter deception....
I'm not going to go into this part of the story right now...maybe at another time....except to say that they gave up the "daughter" deception when suddenly one of his "real" daughters, me, refused to go along with this scenerio because I lived here in L.A. and I really did not want to attempt to carry on that lie with people who I would undoubtedly most likely might see again.....this problem was therefore resolved.

So eventually, some years later, they found a brand new little house that was near the La Quinta Hotel, and DJ bought it and the two lots on either side of it to insure privacy and to insure that nobody could build too close, because he did not want any neighbors that might be noisy….This particular area was very very new at the time and in fact there weren’t that many houses that had been built yet….(Now, of course, all these years later I am assuming it is completely filled up….I doubt there would be any lots to buy.) It really was a wonderful little house….two bedrooms, a large living-room-kitchen-dining area all in one sort of, a lovely small pool, and that was it....and it was surrounded by the beauty of the gorgeous montains that one sees everywhere in the desert. A perfect desert getaway house…easy to take care of and easy to close up and leave when they were ready to go back east after the winter months were over….Daddy used the second bedroom as an office and that is where guests like myself would stay when visiting overnight or for the weekend or longer.

They always had a very active social life wherever they went….Daddy being an interesting man and interested in many many things, too…So, often they would have made ‘dates’ with people and I was included in whatever these 'dates' were during those times when I would drive down to spend a few days with them. And it was always very interesting for me, especially interesting if they had a connection to show business or the art world…It might be a party or a gathering at some place, like The Palm Springs Museum, or perhaps a small dinner party at someone's home or a luncheon.

It was one of those times that I was there for a few days that Daddy & Olga had been invited to lunch at Truman Capote’s home in Palm Springs. I was excited about that because of course I admired him tremendously as a writer. I had read the book ”In Cold Blood”, and had seen the film of course, too....and I thought that the book was a masterpiece of writing. I was not alone in that thinking by any means...this book took the literary world by storm and Capote made the cover of Time Magazine among others....You have to remember that at the time Capote wrote this book, no one had really ever written a book quite like it…that now seems very hard to believe because that type of book has been written hundreds of times since….but at the time he was the first and it was ‘new’ and it was stunning, and the quality of the writing was just superb, in every respect.

I had also loved “Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which was 180 degrees away from “In Cold Blood”….and also, I had loved the film of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, though Capote wasn’t that happy with it from what I had always read, But for audiences, it was a wonderful wonderful film---another treasured performance by Audrey Hepburn. So, this was a thrill for me to be included in this ‘lunch at Truman’s’….His desert retreat was in Palm Springs and though I don’t remember much about the house except it was lovely and comfortable and almost had a tropical feel like Florida because of the foliage surrounding it, particularly as you entered----there was, as I recall, a kind of outer front door that led to this walkway which then led to the actual front door of the house itself and that was the ‘tropical’ part. When we arrived, Capote’s House Man answered that outside door and we could hear music playing as we entered….it was the song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”, by Burt Bacharach….and as we passed the windows of the house in this tropical walkway there was Capote dancing and singing to this music that filled the house….This is an image I will probably never forget…he seemed so happy and enjoying himself as he danced around….unaware, it seemed, that people had arrived. We were the first to arrive, a family trait this being ‘on time’….(If you were invited for 12 o’clock, you arrived at 12 o’clock!) There was no such thing as being 'fashionably late' in my family....we were always early-to-on-time, and that is still the case with all of us to this day.

I don’t remember a great deal about that lunch except that his then great great friend Slim Keith was there and I believe there were a few other people too, but there were only eight or ten of us all together, as I recall. Capote was at the head of the table at one end, (I was seated next to him to his right) and he had put my father at the other end of the table, with Slim Keith to his right.…

I remember thinking at the time about all the different people my father had met throughout his life, and wondered had there ever before been anyone in his life quite like Truman Capote. I don’t think so….But Daddy Joe seemed glad to be there and though I don’t think they saw each other much socially except for Palm Springs, DJ seemed very interested in Capote and seemed engaged by all the other people who were there as well.

In retrospect one cannot help wondering about all that happened in Truman Capote’s life as the years went on….The many people that he not only offended but in some cases, completely devastated when that first excerpt from “Answered Prayers” appeared in Esquire Magazine in 1975.
This was a book he had been writing and working on for years and years….the first book after “In Cold Blood”. In fact, the only book after “In Cold Blood” and the further fact is that this book was never finished, so therefor, it was never published.

The excerpts that appeared in Esquire pretty much rocked the New York Social World and all of the many people Capote had been close to like Slim Keith, felt completely betrayed and pretty much stabbed-in-the-back and all of those friendships ended very very badly. Capote was pretty much barred from any and all of those people’s lives and because of that his life became a very different one from the period of 'The Black and White Ball'. Others much closer to this situation have written in depth about this and there has been an incredible amount of speculation by just about every important literary person of that time as to why he would have written such an obvious and horrible indictment of people who were supposedly his dear friends. And this speculation ran to questions which included things like these: Was the writing of these chapters which were published the most self-destructive act ever ever??? Was Capote trying to prove how truly unworthy a person he really was…..Etc., Etc.....And of course, I have no treal idea and anything I might say wouldn’t even have any validity at all. I do know that many of us saw Truman Capote's decline happen before our eyes on television, We watched as he deteriorated into a drunken and drug filled life appearing on different late night talk shows….often appearing as if he was in a kind of stupor….this was very sad to see….this very brilliant man who for whatever reason destroyed all the close caring relationships of his life in New York and then ultimately never finished this book. Some people have said that there never was 'a whole book'. But his great friend Joanne Carson believes the complete manuscript does exist and that it is in a Safe Deposit box somewhere. She believes this because she found a key that had no identifying marks on it to tell what bank it might belong to and surmised that Truman's manuscipt must be in that Safe Deposit Box. Certainly parts of it did exist, and those parts were the ones published in Esquire. But nothing else of that book ever appeared in print.

I am very anxious to see this new film about Truman Capote….the one with Toby Jones and Sandra Bullock called “Infamous”.
From what I have read and heard it sounds like a not quite as cold evaluation of this very talented man as the previous film “Capote” was….it covers some slightly different material including some of the ‘swans’ he was so close to, like Slim Keith. That is what he called these women….

I try to remember more about that day at lunch and visualize the relationship as I saw it that afternoon between Capote and Slim Keith….truthfully I have no distinct memory of that except I know it was a good relationship…..warm and caring and obvious that they really really liked each other a lot. I think if it been anything else I would have remembered that. But I remember very clearly the particular rendition of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” that he was playing and dancing to as we arrived that day because it was THE Popular one of the day….And every time I hear that song to this day, the picture of Truman Capote dancing and singing around his home…seemingly very happy and content with his life and his lot at that time….comes to my mind….I see him in his colorful Hawaiian shirt, and wearing some kind of tropical loking casual summer hat. And I remember that that day, he was happy.

That’s what I remember all these years later.


More To Come.....







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35 Comments:
had this to say:

Good Morning
What an informative post. To be honest I do not know of this man, or his works. I have seen the fild Breakfst as Tiffanys. I will, however, certainly look out for the new film it all sounds very interesting.

Your Father sounds quite a character. My Father would never be late for anything and often we were early. He is still like that now. IF he says he will pick my son up for something at 10:30 then he will be here 10:15!

Have a good day

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 2:33:00 AM PST 

Blogger mar
had this to say:

Very, very interesting. As always, I love your love for detailed description, it makes everything so vivid. I specially remember "In cold blood" because it was one the first books my dad handed out to me to read and I felt very grown-up! My mom would take care of the classics, dad showed me other pieces and I will never forget TC since he was a "first"!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 4:02:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Well you have done it again Naomi. Captivated me and pulled me into your wonderful stories! Knowing Truman Capote of all people....yes, you are by far the most fascinating person I know.

I thought the film "In Cold Blood" was some of the best work I've ever seen. It was so cutting edge for its time...the sharp, contrasting black and white shots, the scene with him hanging. Wow. Good stuff for that time period. And Breakfast at Tiffany's another favorite.
I had been so excited to watch the movie "Capote" because truly this guy is one of the best authors ever and a very interesting character but I just couldn't watch it. It just left me cold. So I am very excited about this new one too!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 4:57:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Breakfast at Tiffany's was such a superb story. Its so sad how so many famous people deteriorate in the light of the public's critisism.

Kendra

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 5:44:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a truly amazing story. I suppose all anyone can do is speculate as to why he did what he did. It is often the fate of those considered to be the embodiment of genius to go into some sort of decline.

Btw - it is the same in our family - no such thing as late as we consider it rude to keep poeple waiting!

Thanks for sharing such a fascinating tale.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 5:58:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a truly amazing story. I suppose all anyone can do is speculate as to why he did what he did. It is often the fate of those considered to be the embodiment of genius to go into some sort of decline.

Btw - it is the same in our family - no such thing as late as we consider it rude to keep poeple waiting!

Thanks for sharing such a fascinating tale.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 5:58:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

WOW. That's it....just, WOW. I can totally visualize him dancing around, oblivious to what or who was coming and going. This post was really interesting!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 6:20:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What an absolutely fascinating account! I have always enjoyed his works, but really don't know THAT much about him! Of course, I know he was flamboyantly gay when NO ONE was, but other than that and a few little stories I've heard along the way, I don't know much! I guess I should read a biography ... or maybe break down and watch this movie coming out! Hmmm... what a novel idea!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 7:14:00 AM PST 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

You have met so many talented people, Naomi. Yes, it is so hard to watch those who have been blessed with such gifts of writing or music or art, self-destruct; knowing there is nothing you can do about it. To be so blessed and yet so sad.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 7:46:00 AM PST 

Blogger dan
had this to say:

Truman was no doubt a unique character.

I doubt we'll ever see the like.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 8:37:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hi. Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I always consider it a great homour when someone does so :-) You are one of my regular places to visit adn I am always fascinated by what I find. Thanks again.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 9:43:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a great post, Naomi! It's amazing that you have met personally Truman Capote!! I read his "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood (1966), an account of a real life crime in which an entire family was murdered by two sociopaths, and I saw the film too. As journalist I am aware about the importance of Truman Capote for the developing of the "New Journalism," a style of writing that was a cross between journalism and literature.
I also read "Breakfast at Tiffany's and saw the film too.
This post is another chapter of your book, my dear! Thanks for sharing this amazing story!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 10:15:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

That was very interesting. I saw the last movie about Capote, intend to see the new one and remember the articles about him throughout my life, seeing his interviews. He was definitely a fascinating person with a lot of hidden demons probably.

My speculation on why he wrote about the 'rich' world as he did was because he had done the expose on the middle american version for In Cold Blood and perhaps it just seemed to balance it. Did he see it as it was or was he mad at them for making him their 'treat' or flavor of the month which sometimes happens to artists with the wealthy? It would be impossible to know but it was destructive. Some feel that when he wrote In Cold Blood, he felt he had gone so deeply into himself and betrayed himself. Artists are often tormented due to their internal work to create-- depending on what they create, of course.

I also (due to family training) am always on time which often ends up getting anywhere when nobody is expected or there.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 10:23:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I teach his short story, "A Christmas Memory" each year to my advanced literature class. I enjoy Truman Capote and am fascinated by the fact that you met him!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 11:45:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Truman was eccentric so to speak, I think you have to be to become a good writer. I loved his books. Oh how much fun that must have been, to walk in and see him singing and dancing around:-). He really did have a spirit of sorts about him didn't he? :-). I too can not wait for this new movie to come out. Thank you so much for sharing a treasure of your memories of this special day:-.
Have a great day!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 12:06:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

An interesting view of the world. I'll come back for the fun of it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 12:35:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

holy moley Naomi lol.. and wow too!

He was one hellava writer, one can never take that from him!

Not to make fun, but i thought he was really good in "Murder by Death" lol... he had the greatest line in that move.. "say your god-damn pronounes!" lol..

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 1:08:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

How fun it is to read of all the famous people in your life, Naomi. I remember Capote on TV and in all the magazines. I remember seeing pics of his Black and White Ball, and watching his "downfall", so to speak. It is interesting to read about other parts of his life.

P.S. I am prompt also, and I like for others to be.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 4:12:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

You are just a volume of information, Naomi! What a fascinating life you've had. I enjoyed this story SO much.
Shaking my head about your dad passing off the girlfriend as his daughter. Unreal! I swear...truth really IS stranger than fiction!
I really enjoyed reading all about Capote....and wasn't aware another film about him is coming out. I think I might have to add that book about the Black and White Ball to my reading list. Thanks so much for sharing all of this.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 4:44:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Oh wow, what a fascinating portrait you draw!! I have loved the book 'Breakfast At Tiffanys' since I was a teenager, and like you, adore the film as well. I never knew very much about Truman Capote until I saw a documentary on him earlier this year (or was it last year), anyway, I was shocked to hear how those published excerpts from his last (unfinished) book were so damning of everyone he knew - I couldn't believe someone would do that!! Although he was surely a very complex man and who knows why he did it, really.

I didn't know there was a film coming out - ie “Infamous” - I can't wait to see it now either!!!

I have your email around somewhere, you'll hear from me shortly!! :)

Cheers!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 5:07:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a fantastic interesting post. I don't know much of Mr. Capote but you paint an interesting pitcure. I will have to learn more.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 8:46:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Interesting Naomi!! I did see the movie "In Cold Blood." Truman Capote was a great writer! I have not seen "Breakfast at Tiffanys" or read the book either. I'll have to check it out!

Another great post from your many wonderful memories Naomi!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 9:00:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hello. I just realised I never answered your question that you left on my blog. Spearhead Films have made two feature length films on 'challennging' budgets. The first (War Crimes - on IMDB)is about some students caught up the the Yugoslavian war. They witness an atrocity and need to run for their lives with evidence. The second (Pax Imperium - unsigned) is about a near-futuristic police state. A man with no memory is trying to piece together recent events to find out who he is and becomes inplicated in a search for a terrorist leader. The trailers are on Youtube.com. Hope this answers your question!

I love being involved in soemthing so creative. It also fills the void left by theatre when I left it 7 years ago.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 5:31:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

New film sounds good, I love Sandra Bullock. So I will definately be seeing it.

He was an awesome writer! Thank you for sharing this story! How wonderful the memories you have!

{{hugs}}}

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 11:04:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What an interesting story Naomi! I like it! I learned something from it as well. I didnt know that Breakfast at Tiffany's was a book then made into a movie. Havent seen the movie yet but I have the feeling that it will be shown at school!

Have a nice week to you Naomi!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 1:30:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I love your stories, Naomi. I never knew the whole story as to why so many disliked Truman Capote and the possible reasons for his deterioration. The image of him dancing to "Raindrops" is a vivid one. I do remember him on the late night talk show circut.

I think I had a carcoat with wooden buttons like the ones in the first photo.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 1:35:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have to say we are usually on time or early and both times we came up to you we were late but not of our own doing LOL.
Fasinating account, I have yet to see Capote the movie I am so far behind in these things.
No sign of any packages yet but it is too early to be looking out for it, these things seem to take a long time to get here from the US :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 2:28:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

That must have been fascinating, Naomi. Actually, your whole post was fascinating, just to wonder and think about this man's life. What a great memory.

Now if I could just get Ben Affleck to invite me to lunch. lol

~S

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 3:43:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Very intereresting post. It's nice to hear another side of Capote from someone who had met him.

Your dad sounds like quite a character :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 6:51:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

what captured me here is that you remember him happy. I know who Truman Capote is because he was required reading in my school, many years ago. But I did not know him. I like hearing that he was happy once. It is awful to think that someone could ruin thier lives like that, but worse to think that perhaps he hadnt known happiness at all.

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 1:07:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Melli....she told me about your blog entry of T. C.!! She knows I love the man. He was talented in no other way that can be compared to today's writers!! His work and demeanor was always so facinating.

I have several biographies and In Cold Blood...they are priceless to me.

I really think that Melli had the right idea in telling me about your blog entry.

Fabulous!!! And quite a memory!!!

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 5:46:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I can't even imagine meeting someone this famous and interesting. You have been very fortunate in meeting so many interesting people. I love your memory of him dancing and happy. I can almost see him myself. I love reading your recollections. They create a movie of the events in my mind. *happy sigh*

Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 6:18:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a great story. You're probably one of only a handful of people who have a happy memory of him, sadly. Thanks for giving us your gift of wonderful memories!

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 5:20:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a great post!! I think you already know that I drank at a NYC bar until closing with Truman Capote back in the late 70s... what a character.

My son and I recently watched the film "Murder by Death" and Truman was hilarious in it.

Re Breakfast at Tiffany's: One of my faves. I have a framed movie poster from it, in Italian, in my living room.

Always love reading your stories Naomi!

Friday, November 10, 2006 at 6:02:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hello from the Meet and Greet. I'm a big fan of all things LA, Capote, and La Quinta. My friend's a member of a club in Palm Dessert called the Palms, we're planning a golf outing in January. Can't wait.

I'm a Breakfast at Tiffany's fan, though, only the movie...never got around to the book.

Have a good weekend.
Mitch

Saturday, November 11, 2006 at 2:30:00 PM PST 

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