How Did Truman Capote Die? What to Know About the Famous Writer’s Death

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Truman Capote is one the most celebrated writers of the 20th century. Born in 1924, he began writing at a young age, and he published his debut novel Over Voices, Other Rooms in 1948. His magazine work and short stories helped him establish himself in the literary world as well as in certain circles in New York’s socialite scene. He published perhaps his best-known work Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958, and in 1961, it was adapted into a classic movie with Audrey Hepburn starring as Holly Golightly. In 1965, he published his non-fiction true crime thriller In Cold Blood, which documented the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, Kansas. The book remains one of the bestselling true crime books of all time.

Truman’s personal life was also the subject of much public interest as he was a popular literary figure of the time. His life has been documented in numerous plays, movies, and TV shows, including Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance in Capote (2005), which chronicled his time writing In Cold Blood. The writer’s life is also the inspiration for the new limited series Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans, which focuses on Truman destroying friendships with people in New York socialite circles in the 1960s, on FX. Tom Hollander appears as Truman in the new show.


Ahead of the series premiere, get to know more about Truman’s death.

How Did Truman Capote Die?

Truman died on August 25, 1984 at 59. Throughout his life, the author was a smoker and heavy drinker, and he also indulged in other illicit substances, including cocaine, tranquilizers, and marijuana, according to PBS. Throughout the 70s, Truman did seek help for his struggles with addiction, attending rehab programs, but he regularly relapsed shortly after being released.

Truman was also frank about his drug use and public persona. He made reference to his substance abuse issues in a famed quote from his 1980 collection Music for Chameleons. “I’m not a saint yet. I’m an alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. I’m homosexual. I’m a genius,” he wrote, via GoodReads.

Truman died at the Bel-Aire home of friend Joanne Carson, who was Johnny Carson’s ex-wife. His cause of death was listed as “liver disease complicated by phlebitis and multiple drug intoxication.” His autopsy found that he’d taken Valium, codeine, and barbituates, according to Entertainment Weekly. 

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Will Truman Capote’s Death Be Featured in ‘Feud?’

The new season of Feud is based on Laurence Leamer’s book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era. The movie is based on the real-life people that Truman used as inspiration for his unfinished novel Answered Prayers, which was published posthumously in 1986. In 1975, an excerpt from the book, titled “La Cote Basque, 1965,” which was a closely based (and thinly veiled) account of the “Swans” lives with their husbands, per People. His relationships with the socialites quickly fell apart upon the publication.

It isn’t entirely clear if the series will cover Truman’s death, but assuming that it will include the fallout following the 1975 publication, it will take place near the end of the author’s life. There is an episode titled “Masquerade 1966” (via USA Today), which is presumably about Truman’s famed 1966 Black and White Ball. The final episode is also reportedly titled “Phantasm Forgiveness,” which appears to hint that it will take place after the writer’s death.


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