The Actual-Life Socialites & Scandals – WWD


Seven years after the premiere of Ryan Murphy’s “Feud,” the anthology’s second season — out Jan. 31 — charts the fascinating lives of Truman Capote’s muses. Subtitled “Capote vs. The Swans,” Murphy’s new installment surrounds the creator’s excessive society friends, whose secrets and techniques he would finally expose within the 1975 Esquire article “La Côte Basque, 1965.”

The piece was an excerpt from “Answered Prayers,” a roman à clef that Capote as soon as known as his magnum opus. The completed novel by no means made it to publication, but its legend lives on: the dissolution of Capote’s closest friendships have been chronicled in Lawrence Leamer’s 2021 quantity “Capote’s Girls: A True Story of Love, Betrayal and a Swan Track for an Period,” which serves because the supply materials for “Feud.”

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To Capote, they have been “swans”; to the press, they have been the “girls who lunch” — and lunch they did, most notably at storied establishments like Colony Membership, Le Cirque and La Côte Basque, the place the notorious excerpt bought its identify.

Amongst these swans, Lee Radziwill, C.Z. Visitor, Slim Keith and Babe Paley, have been celebrated socialites, trendsetters and trend icons whose affect nonetheless resonates in the present day. The wardrobes of Radziwill and Paley impressed Lanvin’s spring 2020 assortment, whereas Visitor was the primary recipient of the CFDA’s coveted Trend Icon Award — an honor later bestowed upon Rihanna, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Babe Paley

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Paley in 1954.

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Babe Paley was groomed as a debutante earlier than she started working at Vogue in 1938. She parlayed her standing as a trend editor into an authorized fashion icon, making quite a few greatest dressed lists and incomes an induction into the Worldwide Greatest Dressed Listing Corridor of Fame in 1958.

The spouse of CBS founder William “Invoice” S. Paley, Babe Paley made pantsuits and tying scarves to purses fashionable. When she let her hair go grey, emulators all however deserted their dyeing rituals. Paley’s wardrobe brimmed with Balenciaga, Valentino and Givenchy; she regularly paired Schlumberger and Verdura sparkle with costume jewels.

Paley was Capote’s closest confidante, and his most prized swan. “She was one of many two or three nice obsessions of my life,” Capote as soon as mentioned. “She was the one individual in my complete life that I favored all the pieces about.”

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Paley in 1974.

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Capote’s and Paley’s kinship crumbled following the publication of “La Côte Basque.” The author portrayed Invoice, disguised with the pseudonym Sidney Dillon, as a philanderer — revealing the couple’s secretly troubled union to the whole thing of excessive society. As soon as Capote’s piece hit the stands, Babe by no means talked to him once more. She died of lung most cancers in 1978, and Capote wasn’t invited to the funeral.

In “Feud,” Paley is performed by Naomi Watts.

C.Z. Visitor

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Visitor photographed by Slim Aarons in 1962.

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C.Z. Visitor, the ash blond Boston Brahmin, grew to become an emblem of the elite after masking Time in 1962. Relating to her presence at social occasions, the journal proclaimed: “If she wasn’t there, it doesn’t exist.”

C.Z. married polo champion Winston Frederick Churchill Visitor, a distant cousin of the British Prime Minister, at Ernest Hemingway’s Havana property. The bride wore Mainbocher; Hemingway served as greatest man.

Thought-about one of the trendy ladies of the ’50s, Visitor made the Trend Corridor of Fame in 1959. A renaissance muse, she influenced designers like Invoice Blass and Ralph Lauren and posed for painted works by Salvador Dalí and Diego Rivera.

Author Jill Gerston famously described Visitor as being “reduce from the identical cool, silky fabric as Grace Kelly…a patrician magnificence that’s indigenous to socially registered enclaves like Palm Seaside and Southampton, a sporty, outdoorsy look that eschews make-up, hairspray and something fashionable.”

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Visitor at Templeton.

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Amongst her flare for the “outdoorsy” included passions for horticulture and horseback driving. Following a foul fall, Visitor grew to become a gardening columnist for the New York Put up, authoring her first e-book on the topic a decade later.

Visitor additionally took curiosity in inside design, tapping the abilities of Stéphane Boudin to brighten Templeton, her 12,000-square-foot, 28-room brick mansion in Outdated Westbury, N.Y.

The socialite later dabbled in trend design, debuting a group of cashmere sweaters throughout Adolfo’s fall 1985 present — however she by no means deserted her position as muse, strolling for Prada on the age of 74.

Visitor was one of many few loyalists who didn’t shun Capote put up “La Côte Basque.”

Chloë Sevigny is forged as Visitor in season two of “Feud.”

Lee Radziwill

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Radziwill in 1962.

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She’s been known as the “unique influencer” — Lee Radziwill, the sister of Jackie Kennedy, was one of many best-known socialites of her time. A former assistant to Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Radziwill’s subtle style formed Jackie’s popularity as first woman. When President John F. Kennedy demanded that his spouse solely put on American designers, Radziwill smuggled Givenchy robes into the White Home for her youthful sister.

“Lee had an enormous affect on Jackie, and plenty of her fashion was filtered down from Lee,” designer Martin Grant mentioned in Radziwill’s New York Instances obituary.

Radziwill’s penchant for streamlined garments, oversize sun shades and free-flowing hair have been developments adopted by Jackie, and finally, the world. In 1962, she was voted one of many world’s greatest dressed ladies in a global trend ballot, making the Greatest Dressed Listing’s Corridor of Fame in 1996.

“She edited out the surplus,” added André Leon Talley, who first met Radziwill whereas working for WWD within the ’70s. “She instructed me she’d by no means had an Hermès bag or silk scarf in her life. Everybody else carried them, so to her they have been widespread.”

Lee Radziwill, Truman Capote

Radziwill and Capote in 1968.

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Radziwill regularly opted for appears to be like from Givenchy, Halston, Giorgio Armani and Courrèges — the latter of which she helped popularize. Within the ’80s, she grew to become a public relations govt for Armani. Radziwill is basically credited with elevating the designer’s profile among the many excessive society and superstar units. “It was about easy, low-key issues and an important respect for line and sweetness,” she as soon as mentioned of the model.

On the urging of her good pal, Capote, Radziwill launched into an unsuccessful performing profession within the ’60s earlier than setting her sights on inside design. Her style was closely influenced by Italian architect Lorenzo Mongiardino, whom Radziwill tapped to brighten the London residence she shared together with her second husband, Polish aristocrat Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwill. Lee’s fervor for furbishing by no means light — she even helped her good pal, designer Marc Jacobs, choose linens and dishes for his Parisian abode.

Radziwill is immediately talked about in “La Côte Basque,” although she continued to defend Capote following its publication. She later admitted that she felt the author had been “taken benefit of by plenty of individuals he thought have been his pals,” in line with a 2012 Vainness Honest article.

Calista Flockhart portrays Radziwill in “Feud.”

Slim Keith

truman capote friends, swans, American socialite Nancy 'Slim' Keith, Lady Keith (1917 - 1990) steps onto her porch in Lyford Cay, New Providence Island, April 1974. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Keith in 1974.

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By the point Nancy “Slim” Keith, born Mary Raye Gross, was in her late teenagers, she was hobnobbing with Hollywood royalty. On the age of twenty-two, she made the quilt of Harper’s Bazaar. ”I’ve a tall, skinny body that garments look properly on,” Keith mentioned in 1946 — however that wasn’t how she bought the nickname Slim.

Whereas vacationing in Dying Valley, Keith crossed paths with William Powell. After the actor noticed her diving into the pool on the Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort, he christened Keith together with her distinctive moniker. It was via Powell that she was launched to Hollywood’s haut monde, together with her first husband, filmmaker Howard Hawks.

Hawks modeled a number of of his iconic femme fatales after Keith, most notably Lauren Bacall’s straight-talking, smooth-dressing character in “To Have and Have Not.” Keith was later credited with discovering Bacall, who she first noticed on the quilt of Vogue.

In 1946, Keith, then Mrs. Slim Hawks, was named the very best dressed lady of the 12 months by 150 trend editors. Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, was her runner-up. Keith, who has since been topped the unique “California Woman,” favored an equestrienne look consisting of driving jackets, tailor-made trousers and upswept hair.


Keith in 1975.

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“It was about attractiveness, brains, style and magnificence…,” Keith wrote in her 1990 memoir, “Slim: Reminiscences of a Wealthy and Imperfect Life.” “The one ingredient I delivered to this recipe was the popularity that, whereas you need to be pure, you additionally should be completely different. In my day, completely different meant not having your hair performed in a pompadour and adorning it with a snood, or not attempting to cover your intelligence behind a sea of frills. I opted for a scrubbed-clean, polished look. I believed it was extra essential to have an intelligence that confirmed, a humor that by no means failed, and a wholesome curiosity in males.”

Males, because it seems, additionally had a wholesome curiosity in Keith. In her youth, she was courted by Clark Gable and Ernest Hemingway earlier than being pursued by her second husband, Broadway agent and producer Leland Hayward. Upon her third marriage to Sir Kenneth Keith, a British banker and knight, Slim earned the title of Woman Keith.

Keith utterly ostracized Capote after “La Côte Basque” was printed. She served as a stand-in for the excerpt’s lead character, Woman Ina Coolbirth, who was portrayed as a zealous gossip — and a lush.

In season two of “Feud,” Diane Lane stars as Keith.

Ann Woodward

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Woodward in 1942.

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Maybe essentially the most scandal-plagued of Capote’s muses was Ann Woodward, a socialite, actress and dancer who would go on to commit “The Capturing of the Century.”

In 1937, Woodward moved to New York Metropolis after she was scouted by the John Robert Powers modeling company. She picked up performing work on the airwaves and was named “The Most Lovely Woman in Radio” in 1940.

Whereas performing as a showgirl on the fashionable Midtown scorching spot FeFe’s Monte Carlo, she was launched to a rich banker named William Woodward Sr. It’s rumored that she started an affair with him earlier than she was finally wooed by his son, William Woodward Jr. Ann’s popularity initially made her reviled by excessive society, although she would later be welcomed into the elite fold.

The Woodward identify was scathed but once more in 1955, when Ann shot and killed William Jr., who she claimed to have mistaken for a burglar. She was by no means charged or convicted for the crime, however this didn’t cease a lot of her higher crust friends from suspecting foul play.

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The Woodwards circa 1955.

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A 12 months later, Capote encountered Woodward in a restaurant in Saint Moritz. Following a quick dialog, she hurled a slur on the author, who cheekily retorted by calling her “Mrs. Bang Bang.”

Capote barely bothered to hide Woodward’s id in “La Côte Basque.” The character Ann Hopkins, who’s lampooned as a gold digger, murders her husband in chilly blood.

Woodward caught wind of the Esquire article earlier than its launch, committing suicide simply three weeks forward of the problem’s publication.

Demi Moore is about to play Woodward in “Feud.”

Joanne Carson

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Carson in 1972.

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Joanne Carson, the ex-wife of Johnny Carson, married the comic only one 12 months after he started internet hosting “The Tonight Present.” Following their divorce in 1972, Joanne grew shut with Capote, who had been a frequent visitor on her husband’s program.

“Everybody moved towards Johnny [after the divorce], as a result of that was the place the ability was,” Carson instructed the Los Angeles Instances in 2006. “However Truman stood by me like a rock.”

Joanne, in flip, stood by Capote when most of his swans deserted him. She, too, was a personality in “La Côte Basque,” as was her ex-husband. Fictionalized as Bobby and Jane Baxter, the previous, described as a “midnight-TV clown,” telephones his spouse, Jane, as he lies in mattress together with his mistress.

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Carson in 1984.

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However, Carson forgave Capote for his lower than flattering portrayal of her marriage. He even made himself at residence in her Bel-Air property, the place she moved only a 12 months earlier than her divorce was finalized. Capote would finally die there in 1984. Carson was with him when he took his final breath.

Carson saved half of Capote’s ashes — the remaining went to his companion of over three many years, John Dunphy. A few of them have been saved in a Japanese field on Carson’s mantle till her loss of life in 2015, after they have been auctioned off for practically $45,000. The ultimate quarter of Capote’s ashes are interred with Carson’s at Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Molly Ringwald takes on the position of Carson in “Feud.”


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