Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball: The Absurd Story of a Marvelous Party

PODCAST Your ticket to Truman Capote’s celebrity-filled party at the Plaza.

Truman Capote is a true New York character, a Southern boy who wielded his immense writing talents to secure a place within Manhattan high society. Elegant, witty, compact, gay — Capote was a fixture of swanky nightclubs and arm candy to wealthy, well-connected women.

One project would entirely change his life — the completion of the classic In Cold Blood, a ‘non-fiction novel’ about a horrible murder in Kansas. Retreating from his many years of research, Truman decided to throw a party.

But this wasn’t ANY party. This soiree — a masquerade ball at the Plaza Hotel — would have the greatest assemblage of famous folks ever gathered for something so entirely frivolous. An invite to the ball was the true golden ticket, coveted by every celebrity and social climber in America.

Come with us as we give you a tour of the planning of the Black and White Ball and a few glamorous details from that strange, glorious evening.

FEATURING: Harper Lee, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Robert Frost, Lillian Hellman, Halston, Katherine Graham and a cast of thousands (well, or just 540)

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Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #217: TRUMAN CAPOTE’S BLACK AND WHITE BALL

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Truman Capote in 1945

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From the unusual book jacket of Other Voices, Other Rooms, 1948

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Babe Paley with Truman Capote in Capri, early 1960s

Courtesy the Red List
Courtesy the Red List

Capote in Kansas, at the grave of the Clutter family, their murder being the inspiration for his book In Cold Blood.

1967, Holcomb, Kansas, USA --- Author Truman Capote poses at the grave of the murdered Clutter family, made famous in his novel and in the film . --- Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis
1967, Holcomb, Kansas, USA — Author Truman Capote poses at the grave of the murdered Clutter family, made famous in his novel and in the film . — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis

 

Just a few days before the party, this is what New York City looked like — draped in a toxic smog.

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Truman Capote with his guest of honor — Katherine Graham

 BETTMANN/CORBIS
BETTMANN/CORBIS

Graham is on the left and Capote is front and center, but the real action is Lauren Bacall and Jerome Robbins at right.

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Mrs. Jason Robards Jr. dancing with Jerome Robbins at Truman Capote's party *** Local Caption *** Lauren Bacall;Jerome Robbins;

Supermodel Penelope Tree looks a little bit like Batgirl here.

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Andy Warhol came to the party without a mask.

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Norman Mailer and an unidentified guest.

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One of the most talked about couples of the evening — Frank Sinatra and his new bride (with a new haircut) Mia Farrow.

Conde Nast Archive / Corbis / East News.
Photo courtesy Conde Nast Archive / Corbis- East News.

 

Photo by Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos - East News.
Photo by Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos – East News.

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