Shelved Dolls: Lillie Mae Faulk – The Real Holly Golightly

Joe and "Nina"

Nina became known for her parties. The floors at their apartment at 1060 Park were waxed to a high sheen, and she befriended luminaries – among whom were Doris Lilly, who was so convinced that Holly Golightly was all based on her, her, her! She prepared lavish Southern buffets, which she made entirely by herself (people were continually surprised that she was an excellent cook, but, like Holly, she could only cook certain dishes).

As he grew older, Truman came up with guest lists as well, and introduced his own friends. Phyllis Cerf recalled the parties at 1060 Park and claimed that she saw “everybody from Marlene Deitrich to Walter Winchell.”

Truman was also friends with Christopher Isherwood, whose Goodbye to Berlin inspired the musical Cabaret. His description of the bohemian cabaret singer Sally Bowles almost certainly influenced Truman’s later depiction of Holly Golightly. For a while, it would seem, they all had a perfectly marvelous time, with no mean reds to speak of.

However one of their friends recall a party that didn’t work out so well. On the day Joe – who had been, for some time, having financial difficulties – was accused of embezzlement. Nina was hosting a party. No one showed.

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    • Amy

      Fascinating story! Thanks so much for sharing

    • Caitlin

      Yes, this is great! Super interesting. Excellent work and thanks for posting

    • Samantha

      I love this column so much.
      This might be my favorite yet – it almost brought me to tears.

    • Nancy

      What they said! Keep them coming!

    • Erin

      Thank you for the Shelved Dolls articles. They are lovely.

    • Jaclyn

      Very well done. These pieces are fantastic and each one is more fascinating than the last.

    • Lindsey

      You should put these into a book and sell people the book.

    • Cate

      I agree with the stuff everyone else is saying. I love this series.

      • Jennifer Wright

        AW YOU GUYS!

        I think next week might be Evelyn Nesbit. She is saucy. Also, I need to find someone whose life isn’t incredibly sad. Which is not Evelyn Nesbit. I mean, she’s pretty sad.

    • Robin

      You know, for the longest time, I sort of assumed that Truman Capote had intended Holly Golightly to be a female version of himself (given how others who knew him, such as Harper Lee, had seemed to describe him). I don’t really have time to read past the first page at the moment, but I look forward to reading the rest of your case soon!

    • diane kaston

      thank you thank you, this just blew me away, see you at tiffany’s

    • Kate

      Just had to jump on the “God-this-series-is-fantastic-please-never-stop-writing-it!!” bandwagon. Great writing, fascinating subjects… I’m always so excited to see a new Shelved Doll article. So, please, keep it up!

    • Rod

      “In 1931, when Truman was 8, Lillie married a successful South American businessman Joe Capote (Joe, not Jose, the successful South American Holly wanted to marry in Breakfast at Tiffany’s)”

      But Joe is short for Joseph, isn’t it? That is, José in Spanish (and Joe was Cuban).

    • An Okie

      Loved the piece. But I have one thing. It’s Okie, not Oakie. We’re not made of wood.

    • Luisa

      Wonderful piece! I did have an issue with one tiny bit-Cuba is NOT in South America.