DON LEE KEITH COLLECTION

(Mss 341)

INVENTORY

Earl K. Long Library

University of New Orleans

April 2008

Contents

Summary

Biographical Note

List of Series and Subseries

Container List

Index Terms

Procedures for Requesting Special Collections Materials

Summary

Size:

Approximately 1.7 linear feet (4 boxes).

Geographic Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana.

Inclusive Dates:

1947 to 2001.

Bulk Dates:

1972 to 1992.

Summary:

Articles, photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, newspapers, magazines, audio, and correspondence related to Don Lee Keith.  Includes research materials acquired by Keith, significant portions of which focus on Truman Capote or Tennessee Williams, as well as articles written by Don Lee Keith, both published and in draft or manuscript form.

Related Collections:

Don Lee Keith Collection of New Orleans Photographs (MSS 302).

Source:

Gift, February 2002.

Access:

No Restrictions.

Copyright:

Physical rights are retained by the Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.

Citation:

Don Lee Keith Collection (MSS [Number]), Louisiana and Special Collections Department, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans

Biographical Note

Don Lee Keith, a native of Wheeler, Miss., started work as a reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1962, covering everything from politics to hurricanes to strippers.  "He once said that he found writing a whole lot easier than working.  It paid the bills," recalled Tony Franks, a friend since childhood.  "He said one time that a writer sees everything that everybody else sees, and more."

            Keith’s observations could sting.  In writing an interview with the former child star Margaret O'Brien, Mr. Keith said that getting her "to utter a good quote is like trying to extract the wisdom tooth of a water buffalo."  In a review of Kay Starr's performance at the Fairmont Hotel's Blue Room, Mr. Keith, in a reference to her best-known song, said, "Kay Starr's wheel of fortune has just about run out."

            His exploits became legendary.  To land a session with Capote, Keith wrote a long letter, Hardy said, but because he couldn't afford postage, he sent it as a telegram—collect.  "Truman Capote called back, pretending to be his secretary," Hardy said, "but Don Lee knew the whiny-cat voice and went along with it. They became good friends."

            Keith left the paper in 1974, the year in which he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  He spent two years in the Washington, D.C., area, writing for such publications as The National Observer, The Washington Post, and Rolling Stone before he returned to New Orleans in 1976 as associate editor of The Courier, an alternative weekly newspaper.  Before returning to freelance work several years later, he was also editor of New Orleans Magazine and a columnist for Figaro, another alternative weekly.

            A recipient of many journalism awards, Mr. Keith twice received the Alex Waller Memorial Award, which the Press Club gives to the outstanding print entry in each year's competition.  He also taught at the University of New Orleans and was adviser to The Driftwood, the student newspaper.  While serving in those capacities, on July 28, 2003, Keith was found dead in his home.  He was 62.

Source:  Quoted almost verbatim from John Pope, “Don Lee Keith, 62, Writer, Instructor,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 30, 2003.

List of Series and Subseries

Series I:

Sassafras Articles (1 box).

Series II:

Truman Capote (1 box).

Series III:

Tennessee Williams (1 box).

Series IV:

Others (1 box).

Series Descriptions

I.

Sassafras Articles

This series contains drafts of various articles written by Don Lee Keith for his column, “Sassafras”, published in New Orleans Magazine between the years 1989 and 1993. 

II.

Truman Capote

This series contains a variety of material related to Truman Capote, the majority of which are magazine and newspaper clippings, but also included are magazine issues, photographs, and letters.  Scattered throughout are materials produced by Don Lee Keith himself, including notes, letters, and articles, both originals and photocopies.

III.

Tennessee Williams

This series contains a variety of materials related to Tennessee Williams, the majority of which are magazine and newspaper clippings, but also included are magazine issues, manuscripts, photographs, and letters.  Scattered throughout are materials produced by Don Lee Keith himself, including notes, letters, and articles, both originals and photocopies. 

IV.

Gilchrist and Others

This series contains a variety materials related to Ellen Gilchrist and others, as well as additional materials related to Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.  Includes magazine and newspaper clippings, correspondence, magazine issues, and photographs.  The vast majority of the material in this series focuses on Gilchrist.

Container List

Series I: Sassafras Articles

            This series contains drafts of articles written by Keith for his column, “Sassafras”, published in New Orleans Magazine between the years 1989 and 1993.  Whenever possible, items have been left in their original order and have retained their original titles and headings.

Box 1:

341-1              Drafts of various articles written for Sassafras, between the years 1991 and 1992, several of which include handwritten notes and corrections.

341-2              Drafts of various articles written for Sassafras, between the years 1989 and 1992, several of which include handwritten notes and corrections.  Also includes photocopies of several Sassafras articles, and an unidentified article discussing Blaze Starr and Earl Long.

341-3              Drafts of various articles written for Sassafras, between the years 1990 and 1992, several of which include handwritten notes and corrections.  Also includes photocopy of the Sassafras article, “The Drifter and the Kid”, a 12-page manuscript depicting the 1990 Mayoral elections as a fable called “The Crescent Kingdom”, and an unidentified article discussing the pairing of New Orleans with its music in cinema.

341-4              Drafts of two articles written for Sassafras, between the years 1990 and 1991, both of which include handwritten notes and corrections.  Also includes copies of the October 6, 1992 and October 13, 1992 Gambit Weekly, with the final draft of Don Lee Keith’s October 13th cover story “Reel Life Success”.

341-5              Drafts of various articles written for Sassafras, from the year 1990, several of which include handwritten notes and corrections.  Folder originally titled “Columns-in-Progress” and included the note “Sassafras length: 70 lines of Prestige type”.

341-6              Drafts and photocopies of Don Lee Keith’s article, “The Death of the Southern Gentleman or Whatever Happened to Mammaw?”  Folder originally titled “New Orleans Mag. / dlk originals”.

341-7              Drafts of various articles written for Sassafras, between the years 1989 and 1992, several of which include handwritten notes and corrections.  Also includes photocopies of the article “And Hon, Whatever You Do, Smile”, and two articles for Figaro and the Times-Picayune. 

341-8              Clipping of Don Lee Keith’s article “Verandah”, from the January 12, 1993 Gambit Weekly.

Series II: Truman Capote

This series contains a variety of materials related to Truman Capote, the majority of which are magazine and newspaper clippings, but also included are magazine issues, photographs, and letters.  Whenever possible, items have been left in their original order and have retained their original titles and headings.

Box 2:

341-9              Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  12 articles from between the years 1947 and 1988.  1 packet of photocopies from various “Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature”, with portions related to Capote highlighted.

341-10            Several newspaper and magazine articles, originals and photocopies.  Mostly related to “Music for Chameleons” and the novel within it, “Hand Carved Coffins”.  News release from Random House discussing “Music for Chameleons”.  January 26, 1981 issue of People, featuring the article “Going Home” which discusses Capote’s brief return visit to New Orleans.  October 13 1997 issue of the New Yorker, containing the article “Capote’s Long Ride” by George Plimpton.

341-11            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Interviews, pieces written by Capote, short clippings regarding film rights to Capote’s works and other Capote related blurbs, and articles discussing Capote biographies, including a press release from Simon and Schuster regarding Gerald Clarke’s biography.  Also includes the article “Don Lee Keith: Booneville’s Impertinent *!?Ø!” by Don Cunningham, and Don Lee Keith’s review of “Music for Chameleons” from the August 10, 1980 Times-Picayune.

341-12            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Includes interviews, Capote’s fiction, and pieces related to his death in 1984.  May 1973 issue of “After Dark”, containing Don Lee Keith’s piece, “Reflections and Aspirations of an Almost Tap Dancer”.

341-13            Photocopies of the marriage announcement and license of Archie Persons and Lillie Mae Faulk, Capote’s parents.  Photocopy of the Los Angeles police department’s “Death Investigation” of Capote’s death.  Folder originally contained note that read: “To Don Lee from Jane Ellen”.

341-14            Photographs.  Press reproductions and originals.  (See itemized list, following):

Folder 14

#1

Group photo.  From left to right: Mel Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn, and Truman Capote.

#2

Truman Capote, New Orleans cityscape.

#3

Truman Capote, holding margarita.  Seven Oaks plantation house, Westwego.

#4

Truman Capote, promotional photograph (A Capote Reader).

#5

Young Truman Capote on father Archie Persons’ lap.

#6

Truman Capote, promotional photograph (Answered Prayers: the Unfinished Novel).

#7

Truman Capote, promotional photograph.

#8

Truman Capote, next to Babe Paley.

#9

Truman Capote, at podium.  Possibly from “Murder by Death”.

#10

Truman Capote, at podium.  Possibly from “Murder by Death”.

#11

Truman Capote and unidentified man, peering out the windows of a brick house.

#12

Truman Capote, hugging Gloria Guinness.

#13

Truman Capote as an infant.

341-15            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Book reviews, profiles of Capote, and “The Thanksgiving Visitor” from McCall’s, November 1972.  Also includes research related to Capote, printouts and photocopies, including three photocopies of Capote’s birth certificate. 

341-16            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Articles written after Capote’s death, clippings related to film rights, and “Lana: Love and Lamentation”, a November 12, 1979 Figaro article written by Don Lee Keith about Lana Turner.

341-17            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Excerpt from the unfinished Answered Prayers, “Kate McCloud” from Esquire, December 1976, articles on Truman’s father and family, and the Living section from the Times-Picayune, June 12, 1988, featuring an article written by Don Lee Keith entitled “An Interview with Truman Capote”.

341-18            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Folder originally titled “Material on Truman Capote after his death”, but includes material from before Capote’s death as well.  Includes photocopies of Keith’s articles “Capote on Capote” and “Rocky ride with the Tiny Terror”, and a letter from Don Lee Keith to Tennessee Williams concerning Keith’s review of Capote’s “Music for Chameleons”.  Also included are photocopies of several Capote stories, and a press release from Simon & Schuster concerning Gerald Clarke’s biography on Capote.  October 29, 1984 issue of New York magazine, featuring the cover story “Unanswered Prayers: The Death and Life of Truman Capote”.  December 1979 issue of Esquire, featuring the Truman Capote story, “Dazzle”.

341-19            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  Folder originally titled “To: Don Lee Keith From: Jo Ann Kellen 3/21/01”.  Contains materials associated to Kellen’s independent study with Keith, all related to Truman Capote.  Includes several Don Lee Keith articles on Capote from the Figaro, Gambit, and After Dark, as well as a draft of Keith’s review of “Music for Chameleons” for the August 14, 1980 Times-Picayune.

341-20            Notes and research related to Truman Capote, mostly handwritten by Don Lee Keith on legal sized notebook paper.  Topics covered include “Capote on Capote”, “Music for Chameleons”, and “Answered Prayers”.  Also includes notes related to inaccuracies within Capote’s work.

Series III: Tennessee Williams

This series contains a variety of materials related to Tennessee Williams, the majority of which are magazine and newspaper clippings, but also included are magazine issues, letters, photographs, and manuscripts.  Whenever possible, items have been left in their original order and have retained their original titles and headings.

341-21            Newspaper clippings and printouts of interviews with Tennessee Williams.  Also includes Christmas card address to Don Lee Keith from Lyle Leverich.  Folder originally titled “Interviews w/ Tennessee Williams w/ Interview Notes of Don Lee Keith”.

341-22            Newspaper clippings of stories related to the Tennessee Williams festival dated March 12th, 1989, March 25th 1988, and March 20th, 1988.  Folder original titled “Material on Events Concerning Tennessee Williams”.

341-23            Newspaper and magazine articles of stories related to Tennessee Williams’ work, both originals and photocopies.  Program for the 3rd Annual Tennessee Williams festival, 1989.  Letter from Dr. James W. Gover to Tennessee Williams, dated April 21, 1977, thanking him for dinner and encouraging him to keep writing.  Fan letter to the Courier concerning Don Lee Keith’s article on Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.  Booklet, “The Last Frontier of Bohemia: Tennessee Williams in New Orleans”.  Handwritten and typewritten interview notes of Don Lee Keith.  November 19, 1995 issue of the New York Times Book Review, featuring the cover story “Tennessee Williams Rising”.  Folder originally titled “Books on TW”.

341-24            4-page document titled “Original Clippings”.  Document appears to be an inventory of clippings and miscellany within the Tennessee Williams folders, but does not completely match the actual inventory.  Also includes photographs (see itemized list, following):

Folder 24

#1

Unidentified man (possibly Dick Cavett) standing in the courtyard of Maison de Ville.

#2

Contact sheet of several pictures of Tennessee Williams, Don Lee Keith, and others, possibly in the Royal Orleans Hotel, ca. 1970.

#3

Williams’ Dumaine Street residence.  Date unknown.

#4

The Garden Room, a room in Muriel Bultman Francis’ Garden District home. 

341-25            Playbills to various Tennessee Williams plays.  Includes “The Seven Descents of Myrtle”, “Sweet Bird of Youth”, “Vieux Carre”, “Clothes for a Summer Hotel”, “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore” and “The Glass Menagerie”.

341-26            Various correspondence between Don Lee Keith, Tennessee Williams, Oliver Evans, and Robert Carroll.  Includes handwritten letter addressed to Don Lee Keith from Tennessee Williams.

341-27            DAT (audio) tape of Don Lee Keith’s interview with Tennessee Williams.

341-28            Newspaper and magazine articles, both originals and photocopies.  January 1962 issue of Theater Arts, featuring the article “Williams on Williams”.

341-29            Flyer for the 1995 Historic New Orleans Collection Tennessee Williams exhibit, the Tennessee Williams winter 1995 cover issue of Historic New Orleans Collection Quarterly, an October 31, 1994 handwritten receipt for items received from Don Lee Keith to Patricia Brady, a December 10, 1994 receipt for items lent by Keith to the Historic New Orleans Collection, a letter from Morris Denton of the Columbus, Mississippi Chamber of Commerce, and 2 copies of a Tennessee Williams tribute piece authored by Don Lee Keith and dated December 8, 1994 to the Historic New Orleans Collection.

341-30            Photographs.  Also includes signed “An Evening with Tennessee Williams” program, addressed to Don Lee Keith, and letter from Chip Bowman of Images Unlimited to Keith..  Folder originally titled “Photos of Tennessee Williams”.  Information in regard to the content of the photographs taken from inventory found in the collection.  Note that several items from the inventory appear to be missing, (see itemized list, following):

Folder 30

N/A.

Cartoon drawing of Tennessee Williams.

N/A.

Postcard of Tennessee Williams at typewriter.

#3

Tennessee Williams on stage.  Mississippi Arts Festival.  Jackson, Mississippi.  April 1977.  Photographer, Tony Franks.

#5

Tennessee Williams in the living room of his Dumaine Street residence, with bust of Byron.  January 1978.

#6

Contact sheets of previous.  Includes images of Tennessee Williams with Don Lee Keith (seated).

#8-12

Various shots of Tennessee Williams in the garden of Nora Jane Ethridge’s home during the Mississippi Arts Festival.  Jackson, Mississippi.  April 1977.  Photographer, Images Unlimited.

#13

Signed program, “An Evening with Tennessee Williams”, to Don Lee Keith.  Inscription reads “To Don Lee: love & all that always, Tennessee”.

#14-15

Tennessee Williams in the New Orleans Theatre of the Performing Arts.  Photographer, David Richmond.  January 24, 1978.

#16

Playing cards on the balcony of Marti’s Restaurant.  Rampart & St. Philip Streets, New Orleans, Louisiana.  1978.  Photographer, restaurateur Marti Shambra.

#17

Tennessee Williams.  Photographer, Richard Wells.

#19

“Cemeteries” streetcar.  Canal Street.  1930s or 1940s.

#20

Toulouse and Charters, formerly the site of Victor’s Café, a favorite of Williams.  Photographer is not Kenneth Holditch as printed on the back.  ca. 1983.

#21

Courtyard of Maison de Ville, a French Quarter Hotel where Williams often stayed.

#22

Tennessee Williams with Don Lee Keith in the garden of Nora Jane Ethridge’s home during the Mississippi Arts Festival.  Jackson, Mississippi.  April 1977.  Photographer, Images Unlimited.

#23

Velox and negative of photograph from the same series as #5 and #6.  Don Lee Keith is pictured to Williams’ right, seated.

#24

Williams’ Dumaine Street residence.  ca. 1990.

#27

Contact sheet.  Includes images of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and two unidentified women.

#28

Group photograph of Tennessee Williams, Irene Mayer Selznik, and Oliver Evans, on a small boat.  ca. 1930s or 1940s.

#30

Tennessee Williams.  Photographer, Ronald Hayman.  1956.

341-31            Newspaper articles, mostly photocopies.  Includes two original newspaper articles, “The Fragile Delicate Ties that Must Be Broken” from the October 30, 1994 New York Times and “A Grand Salute to Tennessee” from the March 25, 1988 Lagniappe.

341-32            Photocopies of three articles written by Tennessee Williams, “Tennessee Williams” from an unknown source, “Mother Yaws” from the May ? Esquire, and “Any Artist Dies Two Deaths” from the March 20, 1983 This World.

341-33            Programs to various Tennessee Williams events and plays (see itemized list, following):

Folder 33

“An Evening with Tennessee Williams”

New Orleans Theatre of the Performing Arts

January 24, 1978

“Orpheus Descending”

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

March 9-31, 1990

“Summer and Smoke” (commissioned for the Saint Paul Opera Association)

T.A. O’Shaughnessy Auditorium

June 19, 1971

“A Streetcar Named Desire”

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre

March 18, 1989

“A Tribute to Tennessee”

Beverly Hills Playhouse

1983

341-34            Typewritten manuscripts of two Tennessee Williams works, “Return of a Native Son” (tribute to Oliver Evans, signed) and “The Red Part of a Flag” (short story).  Also includes an article by Don Lee Keith discussing the literary heritage of New Orleans, along with a handwritten note recording a quote by Tennessee Williams used in the article.

341-35            Articles written by Don Lee Keith about Tennessee Williams, mostly originals but with some photocopies.  Includes copies of the articles themselves, drafts of articles, and Keith’s notes.

341-36            Obituaries and tributes to Tennessee Williams following his death, mostly photocopies.  Includes original pages from the February 26, 1983 and March 6, 1983 New York Times.  Also includes copy of Williams’ Last Will and Testament.  Folder originally titled “Obituaries and Last Will”.

Series IV: Ellen Gilchrist and Others

This series contains a variety materials related to Ellen Gilchrist and others, as well as additional materials related to Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.  The vast majority of materials concern Gilchrist.  Whenever possible, items have been left in their original order and have retained their original titles and headings.

Box 4:

341-37            Articles and drafts of articles written by Don Lee Keith on Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.  Includes several drafts of “Truman vs. Tennessee: Fear and Loathing ‘Neath the Old Magnolias”, and pages from the August 18, 1980 Figaro featuring the article “The Case Against Capote: Tiny Terror Tried and Found Wanton” and the January 26, 1981 Figaro featuring the article “Memory Lapse Strikes Capote Once Again”.

341-38            Correspondence between Don Lee Keith and others, the majority of which is from Ellen Gilchrist.  Includes poetry, manuscripts, postcards, and letters.  Also includes photograph of Keith and Gilchrist during Mardi Gras at the Iris Parade, 1982, and a letter to Keith from Jeanie Thompson, dated October 12, 1981.

341-39            Announcement and press letters concerning Ellen Gilchrist’s work, from “In the Land of Dreamy Dreams” to “Drunk with Love”.  Includes several mailers from Maple Street Book Shop.  Folder originally titled “Announcements for Ellen Gilchrist’s Works, w/ 1 jacket cover”.

341-40            Articles and short stories written by Ellen Gilchrist between the years 1982 and 1989.  Includes original pages from the Atlantic Monthly, Mademoiselle, and Lear’s.  Also includes the August 1982 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, featuring the short story “The Famous Poll at Jody’s Bar”.  Folder originally titled “Ellen Gilchrist Short Stories”.

341-41            Two issues of the New Orleans Review from 1979 and 1980 containing short fiction by Ellen Gilchrist.  Includes “The Famous Poll at Jody’s Bar” and “Traveler”, respectively.

341-42            Two poetry anthologies containing poetry by Ellen Gilchrist.  Shenandoah, Winter 1978 and Maple Leaf Rag,1980.  “There Will be Seven Fat Years” in Shenandoah is dedicated to Don Lee Keith.  Maple Leaf Rag includes handwritten note to Keith from “Monica”.  Folder originally titled “Poetry of Ellen Gilchrist”.

341-43            Various materials related to the Edna Halbedel “kidnapping” case of 1975.  Includes research materials, newspaper clippings, and several pages of handwritten notes by Don Lee Keith concerning the case.  Also included is a letter from Keith to Richard Villarubia (one of the accused) dated October 31, 1975, requesting an interview with Richard and Noel Dube (the other defendant).  The original file folder has been included, as it is covered in notes related to the case written by Don Lee Keith.

341-44            Article from the February 20, 1989 Times-Picayune eulogizing Everette Hawthorne, a New Orleans poet and former university professor.  Folder originally titled “Article on Everette Maddox”.

341-45            Book review written by Don Lee Keith of “Almost Innocent” by Sheila Bosworth.  Folder originally titled “Sheila Bosworth Book Review”.

341-46            Articles and newspaper clippings related to Ellen Gilchrist and her work, from between the years 1981 and 1994, including an article from the “Dixie” section of the April 28, 1985 Times-Picayune written by Gilchrist herself.  Folder originally titled “Reviews and Articles on Ellen Gilchrist Including Article by Ellen Gilchrist”.

Index Terms

Don Lee Keith

Truman Capote

Tennessee Williams

Ellen Gilchrist

Jeanie Thompson

Everette Maddox

Sheila Bosworth

New Orleans Magazine--Sassafras

Figaro

Gambit

Vieux Carre Courier

Times-Picayune

Driftwood

University of New Orleans

Return to the top of the page