Eugene Walter

Eugene Walter (1921-1998) was born in a small frame house on Bayou Street and raised in Mobile by his grandparents.

After his grandparents’ deaths, Walter was informally adopted by Hammond Gayfer, the Gayfer's Department Store heir. While living with Gayfer, Walter became involved with the Children’s Theatre Guild, acting in and designing and building sets for their productions. He also wrote his own marionette shows and performed them at prisons, hospitals, and timber camps. When Gayfer died, Walter joined the Civilian Conservation Corps to support himself.

Walter and Truman Capote first became acquainted in Mobile when they were both children.

After World War II, he relocated to New York and Paris, where he helped launch the Paris Review. Living in Rome during the 1960s and 1970s, Walter was labeled “Mobile’s Renaissance Man” because of his diverse activities in many areas of the arts, and in later life, he maintained a connection with Mobile by carrying a shoebox of Alabama red clay around Europe.

Walter was a translator for Federico Fellini. He appeared as an actor in more than 20 feature films, notably as the American journalist in Fellini’s (1963).

His books include Monkey Poems (1953), The Byzantine Riddle (1980) and The Untidy Pilgrim (1954). He also compiled several cookbooks, including Delectable Dishes from Termite Hall.

He contributed to numerous magazines; his essay “Front Porches” is an evocative portrait of Mobile in 1929. His literary awards include a Rockefeller-Sewanee Fellowship, an O. Henry citation, the Lippincott Award for fiction and the Prix Guilloux.

“Eugene at Large” aired on WHIL-FM from 1993 to 1998 and featured discussion of local cultural events, recently published books, and food history and recipes.

Walter returned to Mobile in 1979 and died there in 1998.

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