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Truman Capote's Black and White Ball

Author Truman Capote, host of the celebrated Black and White Ball, arrives at the Hotel Plaza holding hands with Katherine Graham, the guest of honor. Graham, of course, was the president of the Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.

© Bettmann/CORBIS

In 1966, author Truman Capote released his true-crime book "In Cold Blood." The book tells the story of the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family, a Kansas farming clan. Capote had worked on the book for six years, and it was an instant success, quickly selling out and becoming a classic. To give himself a pat on the back for his extensive efforts, Capote decided to throw himself a huge party: the Black and White Ball [source: PBS].

Dubbed the "Party of the Century," everybody who was anybody vied for an invitation to this elite event. In the end, 540 people snagged invites, all celebrities in some manner: actors, politicians, journalists, literary figures, royalty. A few of the lucky attendees: Tallulah Bankhead, Irving Berlin, Henry and Shirlee Fonda, Joan Fontaine, Greta Garbo, James Michener, Arthur Miller, Frank Sinatra, Steve Sondheim and Gloria Steinem [source: The Independent].

Attendees were asked to come attired in black and white, plus wear a mask and carry a fan. The ball was held at the Plaza Hotel, one of the finest venues in New York City, and began with dancing, followed by a midnight supper featuring the Plaza Hotel's famous chicken hash. It also drew enormous media attention, angering those who didn't make the guest list [sources: The Independent, PBS].

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