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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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While critics praised his talents as a writer, Dunphy remained largely hidden in Truman Capote’s shadow.
Four years later, Dunphy finished his first play, Light a Penny Candle, a comedy about an Irish American family in post WWI Philadelphia. Some reports indicate that it was produced off-Broadway while others state that it almost made it to Broadway, but the producers could not raise enough funds. Around this time,
Dunphy also wrote Saturday Night Kid, which almost made it to the Broadway stage in 1957 with Shelley Winters as its star. Unfortunately, the play was taken off that season’s schedule after performances in Philadelphia failed to win over audiences. In 1959, Dunphy’s play, Too Close for Comfort, was included in an Italian theater festival along with Tennessee Williams’s The Night of the Iguana and William Inge’s The Tiny Closet.
Dunphy struggled professionally and relied on Capote for financial support, a situation that caused Dunphy some discomfort. In 1964, Capote bought two neighboring houses in Sagaponack, Long Island—one for him and one for Dunphy. Dunphy, wanting to have something of his own, asked Capote for the deed to his house. Capote responded with great generosity, giving Dunphy the titles for both houses.
Capote also bought a place in Verbier, Switzerland, where he and Dunphy spent a lot of time together in the 1960s. After completing In Cold Blood (1966), Capote lost interest in the ski resort town, but Dunphy continued to spend many of his winters there.
In 1968, Dunphy had his third novel, Nightmovers, published. Again, his work earned praise from the critics, but it failed to find a commercial audience. He and Capote were drifting apart somewhat by this time. They had ended their physical relationship, but they stayed close companions. During the 1970s and 1980s, Dunphy found himself at odds with Capote over his escalating substance abuse problems and sometimes distanced himself from the situation.
While their final years together were strained, Capote and Dunphy remained friends until Capote’s death in 1984. Capote had once said that Dunphy was the only man that he had ever loved and he made Dunphy the heir to most of his estate.
A few years after Capote’s death, Dunphy wrote about their 35-year-long relationship in his memoir, Dear Genius: A Memoir of My Life with Truman Capote (1987). He also published his final work, The Murderous McLaughlins (1988), the following year.
Dunphy died of cancer in a New York City hospital on April 26, 1992.
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