William Dufty

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William Francis Dufty (February 2, 1916 – June 28, 2002) was an American writer, musician, and activist. Including ghostwriting, he wrote approximately 40 books.


Dufty attended Wayne State University in Detroit for a few years but left before finishing a degree. Yet even in his final decade, he spoke often to students there about one of his most beloved causes, trade unionism. Dufty was an organizer for the United Auto Workers, wrote speeches for former UAW President Walter Reuther, edited Michigan Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) News and handled publicity for Americans for Democratic Action.

He served in the Army during World War II with French soldiers, because he could speak the language. He also spoke German and Japanese. After the war he moved to New York and began a newspaper career. His columns and exposés for the New York Post drew acclaim, including one that charged that the FBI bungled cases under J. Edgar Hoover's leadership. He was awarded the George Polk Award for an expose on immigrants.[1]

Dufty had one son, Bevan Dufty, with first wife Maely Bartholomew, who had arrived in New York City during World War II after losing most of her family in the Nazi concentration camps. She settled near Harlem where she met her best friend and Bevan's godmother, Billie Holiday. They later divorced and Maely raised Bevan as a single mother. Bevan Dufty announced on September 24, 2009, that he would be a candidate for Mayor of San Francisco in the 2011 election.[2]

Ghostwriting and publishing[edit]

Dufty took Billie Holiday's oral history and wrote Lady Sings the Blues ("[3]Billie Holiday with William Dufty") in 1956, which in turn was made into a 1972 movie starring Diana Ross in the title role.[4]

Macrobiotic diets[edit]

It was, however, the marriage of his devotion to healthy eating, spirituality and writing for which he is best known. Dufty practiced and promoted macrobiotics; a low-fat, high-fiber diet of whole grains, vegetables, sea algae, and seeds, that are prepared in accordance with specific principles, said to synchronize eating habits with the cycles of nature. In the 1960s, he met Gloria Swanson, an enthusiast for macrobiotic diets, who introduced him to the macrobiotic culture and convinced him that white sugar was unsafe.

He became good friends with Japanese artist Yoko Ono and her husband, musician and former Beatle, John Lennon after producing an English edition of Nyoiti Sakurazawa's You Are All Sanpaku; the book credited with starting the macrobiotic food movement in America.

Marriage and death[edit]

Dufty and Swanson were married, she for the sixth time, he for the second time, in 1976. He helped her write her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson in 1981.[5]

After Swanson's death in 1983, he returned to his home state and birthplace of Michigan, settling in Metro Detroit. From there he continued to lecture, write newspaper and magazine articles and teach macrobiotics to a new generation. Dufty died at age 86 on June 28, 2002 at his home in Birmingham, Michigan.[6]

List Books[edit]

  • Lady Sings the Blues, Billie Holiday with William Dufty, 1956
  • My Father- My Son, Edward G Robinson, Jr. with William Dufty, 1958
  • Spoiled Priest: the Autobiography of an Ex-Priest, Gabriel Longo, University Books, 1966.
  • Mannequin My Life as a Model, Carolyn Kenmore, Bartholomew House Press, 1969.
  • Sugar Blues, 1975
  • Swanson on Swanson, Gloria Swanson, Random House, 1980


  1. ^ George Polk Award recipient, liu.edu; accessed November 8, 2014.
  2. ^ (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/23/BA3619RE61.DTL "Dufty says he's in mayor's race", San Francisco Chronicle; accessed November 8, 2014.
  3. ^ book cover
  4. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (August 24, 2010). "Billie Holiday's bio, 'Lady Sings the Blues,' may be full of half-truths, but it gets at jazz great's core". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Myrna Oliver, William Dufty obituary, Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2002.