The Digital Journalist

Truman Capote

Truman Capote wrote the best-selling book "In Cold Blood," about the murder of the Clutter family in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas. I worked on the movie based on the book, which was Capote's version of what the killers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, had told him. The photos I took became a Life magazine cover story. By then it had been a year since the two killers had been put to death.

The film was being shot in the very same farmhouse where the murders took place, and many of the townspeople had mixed emotions about the crew being there. The director, Richard Brooks, let me photograph the reenacted murders that were being played out in the basement of the real house. There was a complicated mixture of fact and fiction all blending together.

Then Truman came to town.

The true murders had occurred. The book had been written, so Truman could relax, showing off the rooms in the murder house to visitors and going off to chat with townspeople. Everyone in Holcomb invited him to cocktail parties, and Truman went to all of them. Loving to gossip, he presided as the star attraction. Truman was the most important celebrity most of the town would ever meet. He sauntered around town enjoying the reception he knew he would receive, talking to everybody. With the actors, caught up in their parts, so sullen and withdrawn, all the attention was upon Truman. His entourage, including Harper Lee, had joined him and Truman presided in his hotel room signing stacks of "In Cold Blood" books.