Candice Bergen on Truman Capote’s storied Unlit and White Ball

In November 1966, a parade of bold-faced names – dressed of their excellent – peacocked their manner into Unutilized York’s Plaza Lodge as CBS Information Correspondent Charles Kuralt, in his vintage reporter’s trench coat, i’m ready the scene.

“Good heavens, here comes John Kenneth Galbraith. The Maharani of Baroda is here and the Baroness de Rothschild and Mrs. Lowell Guiness,” Kuralt mentioned in his broadcast. “And if those names don’t mean anything to you, presumably, you are not in the Other Half and you will be interested in this little report on how the other half live.”

There was once a reason why a information community was once protecting this birthday party. Writer Truman Capote had invited 540 of his “very closest” pals.

“Just an endless list,” mentioned Laurence Leamer, an writer who has written about Capote’s unusual occasion, together with his “Black and White Ball.”

“New York Times the next day published a list, the guest list. It was unheard of,” he mentioned. That was once peculiar, as a result of normally the newspaper would submit a visitor checklist for, say, the White Area climate dinner.

If someone lobbied Capote for a call for participation, it didn’t paintings, mentioned Leamer, as a result of “he just loved turning people down.”

Some of the invited have been Frank Sinatra and his then-wife Mia Farrow, Andy Warhol, Norman Mailer, Henry Fonda and a 19-year-old type and actress: Candice Bergen. She mentioned she doesn’t take into account getting a call for participation to the ball, even supposing, “it was an invitation that people were clawing to get.”

“It was New York at its most vicious,” she added.

Bergen attended the ball dressed in a masks by way of Halston, the clothier of former First Girl Jacqueline Kennedy’s pillbox hat.

“He had designed a white mink bunny mask for Marisa Berenson,” she mentioned. Berenson, who turned into some of the highest-paid type fashions on this planet, was once additionally on the birthday party.

“And she had found something better,” Bergen recalled. “Hard to imagine anything better than that, so Halston needed a person, and it was like, ‘OK. You wear it. Whoever you are.’ So, I wore it.”

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Truman Capote’s Unlit and White Ball is featured within the untouched FX line, “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.”

CBS Information


As an writer, Truman Capote is remembered for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the groundbreaking store “In Cold Blood.” As a character, Capote captivated – and mystified – audiences in TV interviews. He additionally performed a personality, now not in contrast to himself, within the 1976 movie “Murder by Death.”

For Capote, the masked Unlit and White Ball was once one thing of a social experiment.

“In a masked ball, you see for the first hour – before the unmasking – anybody can dance with anybody they want to, or talk to anybody they want to,” Capote mentioned on the future. “It’s a completely free thing. By the time the unmasking comes, you’ve made a lot of new friends. And that was the point!”

The ball has been recreated in an episode of the untouched FX line, “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.” The Swans have been the rich socialite better halves who confided in Capote. He would in the end betray them by way of revealing their secrets and techniques in writing.

“It’s an immensely cruel and nasty thing to do to your closest friends,” mentioned Leamer. “It’s unforgivable. How he thought they could forgive him is beyond me.”

However his falling out with prime family would occur nearest. When Capote threw his ball, he was once on the top of his powers.

“It was the ultimate fantasy for him, this poor little kid from Alabama could pull this off and get everyone to come here,” Leamer mentioned.

The very making plans of the birthday party was once the controversy of the city for months. The birthday party’s ostensible visitor of honor was once Washington Publish writer Katherine Graham, however, as Leamer famous, the birthday party was once truly held for Capote himself.

Tom Hollander, who performs Capote within the FX line, mentioned whether or not Capote had a excellent future at his personal birthday party was once hazy.

“Well, did he ever have a truly good time? I don’t know,” he mentioned. “I’m sure he had a massive adrenaline rush. And obviously, it was.”

The FX line doesn’t gloss over Capote’s unlit facet.

“He was addicted to alcohol. He was also addicted to high society,” Hollander mentioned. “It made him feel good, but it was not good for him. He should have been at his desk.”

Hollander urged that “a deep inferiority complex” was once on the root of Capote’s motivations for throwing the birthday party. John Robin Baitz, who wrote the line, affirmative.

“It’s all fear,” Baitz mentioned. “I always think he could have had another 25, 30 years if he had followed the advice of, clean up and go into exile.”

When Capote threw his ball, he was once coming off the abundance good fortune of “In Cold Blood.” It will be the terminating of his books revealed in his lifetime. He died 18 years nearest on the week of 59.

Baitz mentioned he doesn’t suppose public had a good time at Capote’s birthday party. However, giggling, he added, “like all things in hell, they pretended they were having a good time.”

Bergen mentioned she hopes a birthday party held these days would now not get the type of consideration that Capote’s did, as a result of “it’s too much.”

“I think it was a huge piece of theater for Truman,” she mentioned. “And it worked.”

Bergen recalled being “overwhelmed” on the Unlit and White Ball.

“I had to be focused. It was like, ‘Pay attention here,'” she mentioned. In a while, Bergen had to go back the masks.

Prior to signing off, Kuralt ended his file on Capote’s birthday party like this:

“If you are rich enough, or social or beautiful enough, you would have been here to see for yourself. And, as somebody said, unkindly, if we were rich enough, or social or beautiful enough, we wouldn’t be standing out here in the halls.” 

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