Today in History: Nov. 28

“This is how I made 500 friends and 15,000 enemies.”—Truman Capote

Truman Capote spent the summer of 1966 toting around a classic marble-covered composition book in which—he told everyone and anyone he met—he was compiling a list of names to invite to his grand party, to be held that fall in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel. “Maybe you’ll be invited, and maybe you won’t,” he told anyone and everyone he met that summer.

Those who made the cut received the invitation at top in the mail.

Fifty years ago tonight, Truman Capote threw his party of the century, his “Black and White Ball,” with more than 500 of the country’s most famous and powerful writers, artists, journalists, and politicians in attendance. It was an old-fashioned masked ball, perhaps the last major one in memory. The men wore tuxedos and masks and the women ball gowns and masks.

Ostensibly, the party was to honor Capote’s friend Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, but it also was held as a party to commemorate the success of Capote’s recent bestseller, In Cold Blood (several people whom he had become friendly with in Kansas while reporting for that book were among those invited and they were no more nor less out of place than Lee Radziwill or Henry Ford II).

At around 2:45 a.m. (a quarter to three, appropriately), Frank Sinatra and his girlfriend Mia Farrow made the move to leave, and with his departure, the grand party came to its conclusion. Old New York, in which a “black and white ball” meant black tuxedos and white guests, breathed its last that night. Truman Capote was never again as famous or powerful in his fame as he was that night.

* * * *
Rosalind Russell died 40 years ago today. A scene with Cary Grant from His Girl Friday:

 
* * * *
William Blake was born on this date in 1757.

* * * *
Berry Gordy is 87 today. Senator Gary Hart is 80. Randy Newman is 73. “I Miss You”:

 
Joe Dante is 70. Paul Shaffer is 67. Ed Harris is 66. S. Epatha Merkerson is 64. Dave Righetti is 59. Judd Nelson is 57. Jon Stewart is 54 today. Apl.de.Ap is 42.

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8 comments

  1. wscottling · November 28

    His Girl Friday is one of my favorite movies…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loisajay · November 28

    was that as crazy to write as it is to read: Judd Nelson is 57. Unreal. Thanks, Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · November 28

      I think every day there is one of those for me, yes. I have debated adding as a feature category something like: “Today’s Heck We’re All Getting Old Reminder.” When various rock stars hit 70 (several of whom have now hit 75 or 80), it gives me pause. Whenever actresses whom women that I used to date looked at as contemporaries hit certain round numbers, I pause then, too. (For trivia’s sake, I’m 48 and my first few girlfriends tended to be older than me–when I was 24, my girlfriend at the time was 36–so noticeable numbers have started to come up. Jen, my more-than-a-girlfriend, is 36 now, so somehow I have only dated women in their mid 30s no matter my age. [When I was 36 myself, I was not date-worthy material, so the ultimate test was not applied.] Jen and I will grow older together.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • loisajay · November 28

        Mark–I love your posts. Yes, an ‘old’ reminder would be great! I am 5 years older than my husband but for 3 months of the year, I am 6 years older. It is how our birthdays fall–and he always reminds me of that. We laugh about it but this weekend I will be 6 years older than him. Dang!

        Liked by 1 person

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