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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Photographic Portrait; taken by A.P. McKenzie; original print; black-and-white; 19 inches by 14 inches sold for $896. Photo courtesy of Bonhams, New York.
“Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation if you really are friendly with somebody,” writer, Truman Capote said. “You can’t have too many friends because then you’re just not really friends.”

It may seem like an odd match. Nonetheless, Joanne Carson, second wife of TV megastar Johnny Carson and literary whiz kid Truman Capote bonded in a friendship that lasted almost 20 years until Capote’s death in 1984.

Carson and Capote met for the first time in 1966 at a dinner party given by publishing icon Bennett Cerf. Cerf had become a regular guest on “The Tonight Show.” Capote was the wonder-boy riding on the coattails of his non-fiction hit “In Cold Blood.”

Capote loved the glitz and glamour of celebrity. Carson hated all the hoopla.

Despite basic differences, there was a child-like quality about the scratchy voiced Capote that was charming. In him, Carson said she could see the wounded child. It reminded her of her own early heartaches.

According to biographer John Malcolm Brinnin, Capote used some of the money from “In Cold Blood” to buy an apartment next-door to Johnny Carson in New York's United Nations Plaza.

"When we split, everyone moved to Johnny," Joanne Carson said. "I had one person stay with me, and that was Truman. He took care of me when I was down, and I took care of him."

Joanne was one of a handful of friends who was there for Capote in the end. He took over two of the five bedrooms in her Bel-Air, Calif., home, spending months there every year, swimming and writing. Capote also died in Carson’s home from liver disease complicated by phlebitis, an inflammation of the veins, and drug intoxication.

After he passed away, Carson kept many of his things and also moved books, furniture, snapshots, clothes and memorabilia from his New York apartment to her home.

"I don't want my treasures scattered to the four winds," Capote said.

After living with his things for over 20 years, Carson decided to scatter them to the winds for the sake of her passion, animal welfare. She plans to donate most of the auction earnings to pet charities.

"The Private World of Truman Capote," Carson's 337-lot collection, sold on Nov. 9, 2006, at Bonhams, New York. The auction totaled $250,753.

Lots included six collage boxes Capote created. Made out of snake-bite kits, Carson said she thought they reflected Capote’s fascination with snakes which started when he was bitten as a child. The boxes sold from $2,390-$10,755.

There was also a 7-carat brown diamond ring Capote gave to Carson.

"Every woman should have one important piece of jewelry,” he told her.

Here are some current values for items sold in the Capote collection.

Truman Capote

Personal Photographs of Friends; 4, framed; includes Joanne Carson; Gloria Vanderbilt; Oona O’Neil (she later married Charlie Chaplin); Chaplin family; photos were all on display in Capote’s New York apartment; $329.

Photographic Portrait; taken by A.P. McKenzie; original print; black-and-white; Capote wearing jeans and sweater; sitting on settee next to coiled snake; matted and framed; 19 inches by 14 inches; $896.

Baby Photograph; original print; hand-tinted; depicting two or three year-old Capote; circa 1927; 10 inches by 8 inches; $1,673.

Polaroid; taken by Andy Warhol; one of a series Warhol used to create his now famous portrait of Capote; circa 1979; $6,573.

Book; “In Cold Blood”; first edition; signed on the title-page by Capote; Truman’s personal copy; $8,365.

Diamond and Emerald Ring; 18 karat gold and platinum; 7.05 carats; birthday gift from Capote to Carson in 1972; Capote decided Carson’s jewelry was too modest so presented her with this diamond; $16,730.

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