Almanac: Truman Capote

Author Truman Capote is seen in an undated photo.
AP Photo

(CBS News) And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac . . . September 30th, 1924, 88 years ago today . . . the birthday of a writer who went on to give birth to a new brand of literature.

For that was the day author Truman Capote was born in New Orleans.

The survivor of a lonely and often unhappy childhood, Capote published his sexually frank debut novel "Other Voices, Other Rooms" in 1948, and saw his 1958 novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's" adapted into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn.

Capote turned next to investigating a farm family's murder in Kansas, where his effeminate manner unsettled local officials - a culture clash actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman brought to life in the 2005 film "Capote."

Hailed by many as the first non-fiction novel, Capote's 1966 book, "In Cold Blood," was an instant best-seller.

To celebrate, Capote threw a glamorous black-and-white masked ball, covered by our own Charles Kuralt:

To hear Capote tell it, the party's motive was good cheer and fellowship:

"In a masked ball, for the first hour before the unmasking, anybody can dance with anybody they want to or talk to anybody they want to. It's a completely free thing."

Truman Capote never published another major work in his lifetime, and the short pieces he DID write offended many of his high society friends.

By 1977, Capote had become something of a recognizable cliche, mocked by Woody Allen in the film "Annie Hall": "There goes the winner of the Truman Capote look-alike contest."

Turns out, that actually WAS Truman Capote, in an uncredited cameo.

More seriously, Capote fell into a downward spiral of alcohol and drug addiction, as he freely admitted in a drunken appearance on a 1978 TV talk show:

What's going to happen unless you lick this problem of drugs and alcohol?" the interviewer asked.

"The obvious answer is eventually I'll kill myself," Capote replied.

Truman Capote died in 1984 . . . just shy of his 60th birthday.