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Books: Golightly at Law

2 minute read

Holly Golightly, the charming corn-pone geisha who sheds everything but her dark glasses in Manhattan, suggests early in Truman Capote’s bestselling Breakfast at Tiffany’s (TIME, Nov. 3) that a man who gives his date less than $50 for a powder-room tip is a cheapskate. Holly herself was made to look like a piker last week when one Bonnie Golightly. who insists that she is the real-life original of Holly, filed suits totaling $800,000 against Capote, Esquire (which first published the long story) and Random House. The grounds: 1) libel. 2) invasion of privacy.

A twice-married, twice-divorced blonde built along dinner-at-Schrafft’s lines, Bonnie Golightly, 39, is a practicing novelist (The Wild One) and ex-Greenwich Village bookstore owner. Far from being “a figment of Truman Capote’s so-called imagination,” Bonnie claims. Capote’s colorful heroine was constructed from details about Bonnie gleaned by Capote (“a creative reporter”) from “mutual friends.”

Besides a broad Southern accent acquired from her Tennessee upbringing. Bonnie Golightly points to some other evidence. Like Capote’s Holly, she lived in a brownstone on Manhattan’s fashionable East Side, with a bar around the corner on Lexington. Like Holly, she is an avid amateur folk singer with many theatrical and offbeat friends. Like Holly, Bonnie says: “I just love cats. The cat thing corresponds, and all the hair-washing and a lot of little things hither and yon.” One bit of Hollyana to which Bonnie makes no claim: “I’ve never, absolutely never, had a Lesbian roommate.”

Capote claims that his Holly had three “counterparts in reality,” none of them Bonnie: “One of them is dead—she died in Africa; the other two are very much alive and have no intention of suing me.” Properly Hollyfied at Claimant Golightly’s “presumption.” Capote tongue-lashed back: “I have never met nor seen this lady . . . It’s ridiculous for her to claim she is my Holly. I understand she’s a large girl nearly 40 years old. Why. it’s sort of like Joan Crawford saying she’s Lolita.’

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