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, 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 exposÚs 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.
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.
Ghostwriting and publishing
Dufty was the ghostwriter of Holiday's autobiography Lady Sings the Blues in 1956, which in turn was made into a 1972 movie starring Diana Ross in the title role.
His most popular book is Sugar Blues, first published in 1975, which cautions against white refined sugar, and presents its history and cultural influence.
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 Georges Ohsawa's You Are All Sanpaku; the book credited with starting the macrobiotic food movement in America.
Marriage and death
Dufty and Swanson were married, she for the sixth time, him for the second time, in 1976. He helped her write her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson. They were prominent socialites and had homes and lived in many places, including New York City, Rome, Portugal, and Palm Springs, California.
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 from cancer at the age of 86, on June 28, 2002, at his home in Birmingham, Michigan.
List of co-authored books
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.
Swanson on Swanson, Gloria Swanson, Random House, 1980