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An accomplished playwright and author in his own right, Jack Dunphy is best known for his long-term relationship with the famed author Truman Capote.
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Writer, playwright, performer. Born on August 22, 1914, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. An accomplished author himself, Jack Dunphy is best remembered for his relationship with famed writer Truman Capote. He grew up in a poor Irish neighborhood in Philadelphia. The oldest of six children, Dunphy was often on the receiving end of his father’s nasty temper.
Dunphy quit high school to go to work. After a series of jobs, he trained to become a professional dancer. Dunphy met and eventually married his fellow dance student Joan McCracken. For a time, he toured with George Balanchine’s company in South America. Dunphy and his wife went on to become dancers in the original production of the musical Oklahoma, which debuted on Broadway in 1943.
After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Dunphy returned home in 1946 to discover that his wife had been unfaithful while he was away. The couple separated and later divorced. That same year, Dunphy’s first novel, John Fury, was published. It drew a lot of positive reviews for its depiction of an Irish American man raging against the decline of his life.
In 1948, Dunphy met the popular, young writer Truman Capote at a party. Capote had a crush on the older Dunphy, and the two soon started a relationship. An odd couple, Capote was known for his outgoing and sociable nature while Dunphy was more reserved and private—yet possessing a strong temper. Dunphy remained steadfastly antisocial during their relationship despite any efforts made by Capote.
A talented charmer, Capote had finally met someone who would not be swayed by his words. “I would have debased myself if I had done everything that Truman wanted me to do. And Truman would have hated me because I wouldn’t have been a person. . . . I never went on anyone’s yacht, even though I was invited. I think I would have become a drunk or a terrific pleaser if I had,” Dunphy said once, according to Gerald Clark’s Truman Capote: A Biography.
During their early years together, the couple spent a lot of time living abroad where they spent much of their time working on their writing. They sometimes encountered or were visited by Truman’s friends and acquaintances so that Dunphy begrudgingly got to know people such as playwright Tennessee Williams. One of their favorite spots was Verbier, Switzerland, where Capote eventually bought a place.
Published in 1952, Dunphy’s second novel, Friends and Vague Lovers, tells the story of a woman who flees her marriage after her son’s suicide and ends up in an Italian resort town. There she meets her late son’s boyfriend, and the two develop their own unusual relationship.
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