Culture

The Life of the Party

Parties are celebrations. They mark time, talent, and lives—the past and the future. They also give form to what we call society.

The world is a stage, and the party the life upon it. The intent is a constant: to impress the guests (and the hosts) with the fun of it. The most famous party of the last half-century in America was Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White Ball, a masterstroke of ballyhoo that was held in Kay Graham’s honor in the grand ballroom of The Plaza Hotel.

The great parties, like the ones in these pages, are the sea from which all dramas are drawn. And as these images prove, they were about celebrating culture and this life—and all the ships upon it.

Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball:

The writer Truman Capote receiving whispered musings from a masked reveler
at his famous Black and White Ball at The Plaza Hotel, November 1966; 2. Capote and guest of honor Katharine Graham, who was then president of The Washington Post; 3. Andy Warhol, who was said to be overwhelmed by the number of celebrities in attendance; 4. The ballroom at The Plaza; 5. One of Capote’s most beloved
swans, Lee Radziwill, enjoying the party on the host’s arm; 6. Radziwill putting on her mask for the occasion; 7. Newlyweds Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra.

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