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].