The Party of the Century…. Answers to Truman Capote 

It’s that time of year again…the time when we celebrate our connection to the Eternal by connecting with each other. 

We send cards to people we never see all year just to touch base once again.  We travel to faraway places just to visit family and friends and remind ourselves that despite that daily grind we belong somewhere—we are an integral part of a larger community. And ultimately, we gather together to celebrate.


 You may have gone to a party this year that seemed like a contender for “The Party of the Century.”  Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen went to one of those on New Year’s Eve, in fact.   

Put yourself in his shoes for a moment and picture welcoming in the New Year on an island paradise so lovely and exotic that it inspired Ian Fleming to conjure up his James Bond stories….

…. at a luxurious party hosted by the guy who happened to launch the musical careers of U2, Bob Marley, Steve Winwood and Melissa Etheridge…. 

And, as you’re dancing barefoot in the sand,* having a great time, your own rock band—the one that you jam with just for fun when you vacation aboard your 414 ft. megayacht—-is performing on stage, entertaining the select group of celebrity guests, lead by one of your best friends, Robbie Robertson.  

THAT was how Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen spent New Year’s Eve. Not a bad life if you can get it, you know?:-) 


 But as great as Chris Blackwell’s New Year’s party was, it wasn’t the official “Party of the Century.” And neither were the many parties that Paul Allen has hosted throughout the years that seem like they could be contenders for the prize. (See “Party of the Century–Part Two”—next post)  Instead, that title went to a Ball that was held over 40 years ago, “The Black and White Ball” held at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel on November 28th, 1966. 

The actual  “Party of the Century” was hosted by a man known far better for his literary talents—the brilliant, controversial novelist, Truman Capote. Truman’s remarkable party spawned a book called “Party of the Century,” See… a classic Vanity Fair 30 Year Anniversary article, called “A Night to Remember”See… and a legendary reputation.*1


If you’ve heard of Truman Capote, it may be because two movies have come
out about him in the past year or so;
the Oscar-winning, “Capote,” and the movie “Infamous,”  a film that opened in December and appears to be headed for as promising a future, having already been nominated for one award.** 

You may also recognize Truman Capote as the author of one
of the best selling novels of all time, “In Cold Blood,” or remember him for his equally
famous, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

But in the 60’s everyone knew Truman Capote as a socialite, and as a socialite, he knew just about everybody. Which is why he is such a key figure when it comes to our within six degrees connections. Capote was really connected, and since we’re linking Truman Capote to Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen, that means that Allen has connections to most of the same people.

  Through Capote, Allen is linked to some pretty interesting people, including ****Winston Churchill, William Randolph Hearst, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Jackie Kennedy, Norman Mailer, Ernest Hemingway, William F. Buckley, Andy Warhol, Gore Vidal, John Steinbeck, numerous Ambassadors and European Royals, and Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, among others. 

Some of his connections, Capote’s closest friends, were women who were so graceful and beautiful that they were nicknamed, “Swans.”  Truman’s “Swans” included socialites Babe Paley, Slim Keith and Marella Agnelli —lovely ladies with rich husbands who doted on the
author and told him all of their secrets.

Capote was the master of secrets when it came to the lives
of the high society people whom he surrounded himself with. He even
invented a kind of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game
called IDC, or “International Daisy Chain. But Capote’s “game” had a darker twist:

From “The Party of the Century” p. 39 “In one very funny letter to the Cerfs, Truman outlined a new party game he had invented to pass the time.  He called it IDC, or “International Daisy Chain.” Like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but a little racier, the object of the game was to make a chain of names, each one connected by the fact that he or she has had an affair with the person previously mentioned.  Truman was such an expert on sex and gossip that he was able to establish connections between the most unlikely people.”

In an unfinished book he called his life’s work, “Answered Prayers,” he began to collect, and then
expose a not so thinly disguised story of all of the secrets that he had
gathered throughout the years, including the secret lives of his closest friends. Just as “In Cold Blood” was a true crime
story novel, “Answered Prayers” was a real-life soap opera.

A preview of that work appeared as a set of articles that were published in Esquire Magazine in the mid- ‘70s. And as you can imagine, his friends were not happy. “Society’s Sacred Monsters are in a State of Shock. Never have you heard such cries of betrayal, such screams of outrage…” wrote Liz Smith in an article entitled “Truman Capote in Hot Water” in New York Magazine. ( p. 344 of  George Plimpton’s “Truman Capote,”) 

Whether Truman expected this reaction–or maybe even why he
did something that was so widely considered a betrayal by his friends—might well be the subject of a good third movie about Truman Capote, but in any case,
his connections to that cherished group—connections he had spent a lifetime building—were shattered after the articles were published in Esquire, and Capote was cut off by all but a handful of friends.

The new movie about Capote, “Infamous,” which received a standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, appears to touch on the socialite aspect
of Capote more than the award-winning “Capote,” that came out over a year ago. But both of the movies seem to focus more on the drama involved in the making of his novel “In Cold Blood” than on his social connections and the mystery behind his final unfinished novel.

Here are a few Google videos about Truman. Look at the first–an
interview with Capote–and you catch a real glimpse of who this author was. 

 But we were talking about parties, weren’t we? And ultimately we need to
make a connection between Truman Capote and Microsoft Co-founder, Paul
So here is the most basic connection between Truman Capote and Paul Allen: The 2-degree link occurred ironically at a party–not a party in the 60’s, but one that was thrown just last year at
a celebration party for the movie, “Capote.”  
 Paul Allen was one of the guests who attended Vanity Fair’s star-studded Golden Globes party for the movie “Capote.”Among the guests were Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who had just received long distance congratulations for his performance by 79-year-old Harper Lee, a childhood friend of Truman Capote’s and author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”*2  Other friends of Truman Capote attended the Golden Globes party that night, including actress Shirley MacLaine, who had also been on the invitation list for Capote’s famous 1966 Black and White Ball.  Though she declined Truman’s invitation in 1966, she was present at the “Capote” movie soiree 40 years later. According to columnist Lloyd Grove from The New York Daily News,  MacLaine was “…. looking to buttonhole billionaire Paul Allen to discuss a philanthropic pet project in her hometown of Santa Fe, N.M.” 

So there is one connection—Paul Allen—Shirley MacLaine (2)—Truman Capote (3). 

 Another party-related two-degree connection is through actress Candice Bergen, who was a guest at Truman Capote’s Ball in 1966 AND a guest at Paul Allen’s party aboard the Crystal Harmony luxury liner many years later. *2 

So we have 2 within six degrees connections between Paul Allen and Truman Capote. 

 But why stop there?  🙂  There are so many connections we can make with this link that I am beginning to think that there really is something to this “small world” theory:-).  So let’s go… 

Let’s start with the party itself.  The official guest list included…  Claudette Colbert, Candice Bergen, Arthur Miller, Gregory Peck, John Steinbeck, James Michener, Henry Fonda, Darryl F. Zanuck, Lauren Bacall and Lee Radziwell (Jackie Kennedy’s sister),  among others.  Since Paul Allen has a 2-degree connection with Truman Capote, then the guests at the Black and White Ball would have a 3-degree connection to Allen through Capote. For a few more names from the guest list, see…  

Now let’s link Paul Allen to a number of other people through Truman Capote’s “swans.” 

Truman’s lovely socialites had a few interesting connections of their own. And since Capote has a 2 degree connection to Paul Allen, his swans would be (3) and their links (4) 

So here goes… 

Slim Keith (3)

Was the original “California girl.” When she was in her teens she met actor William Powell (4), who introduced her to a number of celebrities including William Randolph Hearst (4).  Keith ended up being invited to Hearst’s castle many times and she knew quite a few of the stars that frequented there.

 Some of her friends included (4) Lauren Bacall, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant. She was married to Producers Howard Hawks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Leland Hayward, (Sound of Music) before later on marrying an English businessman.  

  Babe Paley (3)

—A beautiful socialite, Babe Paley married President William S. Paley (4), who was President of CBS. 

A few links from Paley: 

In 1964, Paley purchased the New York Yankees and sold it 9 years later to George Steinbrenner (5). Paley also served as a Colonel under then General Dwight D. Eisenhower (5) He promoted Edward R. Murrow (5), making him one of CBS’ top newscasters. Paley was the guy who put 60 Minutes on T.V. when it started out in 1968, with Harry Reasoner (5) and Mike Wallace (5). 

Diana Vreeland (3)— Diana Vreeland was another of Truman’s swans, who was a descendant of George Washington’s brother as well as a cousin of Francis Scott Key. She was a friend of composer Cole Porter and writer Evelyn Waugh.

   C.Z. Guest (3)

was a fun-loving debutante who was so free-spirited that she posed nude for artist Diego Rivera (4), something that might have seemed shocking in those days for a proper society girl from Boston. Fredrick Churchill Guest, a Phipps Steel magnate, fell in love with her, and bought the Rivera for his private collection immediately before the wedding. and “Party of the Century” p.105 


 Joanna Carson (3)

—More of a dear friend than a “Swan,” the two were very close. Joanna was with Truman to the end, in fact, he died in her arms. Joanna’s ex-husband, Johnny Carson (4), had numerous connections, especially if you include the guests that appeared on The Tonight Show throughout the 30 years that Carson hosted the show. Celebrity guests (5) included Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld and George Carlin. 



 Pamela Harriman (3)

 This socialite ended up as a diplomat when later in life President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. Ambassador to France.One of the most fascinating swans, she was also romantically involved throughout her life with a number of important men. Her first husband was Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s son.  When that marriage failed, she had a number of romances including Prince Aly Khan, politician Averell Harriman and playboy Gianni Agnelli of the Fiat fortune.*3 


Let’s continue now— by linking Paul Allen to Truman Capote through Capote-related movies: 

The Movie “Infamous” (About Truman Capote)


Starred Isabella Rossellini (1) (who portrayed one of Truman’s “swans,”  Marella Agnelli).  Rossellini also starred in the movie, “Death Becomes Her,” directed by Robert Zemeckis (2). Zemeckis, also directed the movie, “Contact,” written by Carl Sagan (3), who was a good friend of Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen. (4)  

Gwyneth Paltrow (1), who played Kitty Dean in the movie, “Infamous,” also starred in the movie “Shout” with John Travolta (2), who starred in ” The Punisher” with Laura Harring (3), who attended the 2005 Cannes Film Festival with Paul Allen (4).,,14931-2163163,00.html  

 Paltrow (1) was engaged to actor Brad Pitt (2) at one time, but broke it off in 1997, both of them saying that they felt they could not pursue their respective careers and still maintain a happy marriage. See.. (Pitt has been rumored to have been seen with Paul Allen at Allen’s (3) creative arts celebrity hotspot, “The Hospital” in Covent Garden, London. ) 

Paltrow (1) is the daughter of Director Bruce Paltrow (2), who was connected to the movie “Catch Me if You Can,” directed by Steven Spielberg (3), who was a business partner at DreamWorks and friend of Paul Allen’s (4). See…   

Spielberg is also Paltrow’s Godfather (see above IMDB link).  

Sigourney Weaver (1), who portrayed swan Babe Paley in “Infamous,” starred in “Ghostbusters” with Bill Murray (2) who starred in “Lost in Translation” (with Scarlett Johansson, of  “The Perfect Score”:-).

Weaver also starred in “Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott (2), who also directed “Matchstick Men,” starring Nicholas Cage (3), nephew of Francis Ford Coppola (4), who has reportedly been a guest at Paul Allen’s (5) parties.       See… 

Sandra Bullock (1) —portrayed Truman Capote’s childhood friend, Harper Lee in “Infamous.” Bullock also starred in the movie “28 Days” with actor Viggo Mortensen (2) who starred in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson (3).

Jackson appeared as a Blue Senate Guard (uncredited) in “Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars III)” 

directed by George Lucas (4) who is a friend of Paul Allen’s.  See… 

 Hope Davis (1), who starred as Slim Keith in “Infamous,” also starred as Laura in the 2006 series, “Six Degrees.” See.. 

with Erika Christensen (2) (of “The Perfect Score”:-) Christensen also starred in “Traffic,” which was directed by Steven Soderbergh (3). Soderbergh was the Executive Producer for “Far From Heaven.” The movie,  ”Far From Heaven” was made by Vulcan Productions, Paul Allen’s independent film company.

The movie “Capote”

Paul Allen attended the Vanity Fair Golden Globes party for the movie “Capote.”

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (1), who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote, also starred in “The Big Lebowski” with  actress Julianne Moore (2), who starred in the movie “Far From Heaven,” which was produced by Paul Allen’s  film production company, Vulcan Productions.

Also starring in the movie “Capote,” is Catherine Keener (1), who played Capote’s childhood friend, Harper Lee.  Keener also starred in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” with Steve Carell (2), who was the voice of “Hammy the Squirrel” in the Dreamworks animated movie, “Over the Hedge.”  Allen used to be the largest shareholder in Dreamworks.

The movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

was made from a novella written by Truman Capote.

Audrey Hepburn (1) starred in the film as Holly Golightly. Hepburn also starred in the movie, “Charade,”***  with Walter Mathau (2) who starred in “Hanging Up” with Meg Ryan (3), who was a guest at Paul Allen’s St. Petersburg party.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” also starred  actor Mickey Rooney (1), who starred in the popular new movie, “Night at the Museum,”  with Robin Williams (2), who has also been a guest at Paul Allen’s parties.

The movie, “Beat the Devil”,

made the year Paul Allen was born (1953), was written by Truman Capote.

“Beat the Devil,” starring Humphrey Bogart, was directed by John Huston (1). Huston was the father of Anjelica Huston (2), who was romantically involved with Jack Nicholson (3) for nearly 17 years. Nicholson and Allen go to the same parties, including the “About Schmidt” party at Cannes… See..

 “In Cold Blood”

made in 1967, was written by Truman Capote and was subsequently made into a movie. “In Cold Blood” starred John Forsythe (1), who was the voice of Robert Townsend in the 2000 and 2003 “Charlie’s Angels” movies.

Cameron Diaz (2)  starred in “Charlie’s Angels” as Natalie Cook.  She also starred in “Gangs of New York” which was directed by Paul Allen’s friend, Martin Scorsese (3). Allen and Giorgio Armani co-hosted a “Gangs of New York” party during the 2002 Cannes Film Festival aboard Paul’s yacht. 

Robert Blake (1)  also starred in “In Cold Blood.” Additionally, he starred in  John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,”  with Randy Quaid (2), who also starred in “Independence Day” with Jeff Goldblum (3). Jeff Goldblum has been a guest at Paul Allen’s parties.  

And finally, Truman Capote even starred in a few movies…. 

Including Woody Allen’s  “Annie Hall.”  (He made a cameo appearance as the “Truman Capote lookalike.”)

 Woody Allen was married to Mia Farrow (2), who played “Daisy Buchanan” in “The Great Gatsby” alongside actor Robert Redford (3), who played Gatsby.  Robert Redford had negotiated with Allen over a movie business deal that fell through.


 Capote also starred in “Murder by Death” as Lionel Twain. 

One “Murder by Death” co-star was the legendary Alec Guinness (2), who was Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas’ early “Star Wars” movies.  

George Lucas (3) has been a guest at several of Allen’s parties. See….|0|0|0|28|0|0|0|1|||0|0|0|0|0|0|4949|0|7||paul+allen|0|0|0|0|0&p=7 

Also starring in “Murder by Death” was James Cromwell, who starred in “Space Cowboys” with Clint Eastwood, who directed one of “The Blues” series called “Piano Man.” “The Blues” was produced by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions. 

Also starring in “Murder by Death” was Carol Kane. Kane was also in “Dog Day Afternoon” with Al Pacino, director of the marvelous documentary, “Looking for Richard.” “Looking for Richard” also starred Kevin Spacey, who goes to the same parties as Paul Allen.   


Whew! That was so much more than you needed to know, but we still have one more connection to make.🙂 

At the Black and White party in 1966, crooner Frank Sinatra brought his lovely young wife, Mia Farrow.  Mia Farrow later married Woody Allen, who has recently directed “Scoop” and “Match Point.” 

Both movies starred: 

Scarlett Johansson  

Of  The Perfect Score….:-) 

Stay tuned for more connections……. 


(*Guys, I seriously need a Youtube of this party to add to my video collection of Dancing Microsoft Icons :-). Any help at all would be appreciated…)


More (O.k., LOTS more) footnotes……:-)


** See: 

(Daniel Craig, who played Perry Smith in “Infamous,” was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role in the movie. Daniel Craig is also the new James Bond.  The character of James Bond was invented by Ian Fleming, who lived at Goldeneye in Jamaica, the place where Paul Allen was dancing barefoot in the sand at Chris Blackwell’s party on New Year’s Eve….which brings us right back to where we started, doesn’t it?:-)

*** (Trivia—Charade was the name of one of Paul Allen’s smaller yachts, one that he used to own before he acquired the Octopus. There was a rumor floating around around in 2002 that he gave the megayacht to his sister, Jody, which would have been a nice hand-me-down for her had it been true:-) Allen has since sold the yacht, and mostly travels aboard his other yachts; the 414ft Octopus, the 199ft. Meduse (currently up for sale, although it is still being used, having accompanied the Octopus on it’s holiday travels to Cozumel recently), and the 302 ft. Tatoosh.  

****Winston Churchill (Pamela Harriman’s father in law); William Randolph Hearst (via Slim Keith) (BTW, Hearst (4) employed a number of remarkable writers for his newspaper, including Mark Twain and Jack London, both 5th degree connections to Paul Allen. See…; Frank Sinatra (party guest), Charlie Chaplin (knew Hearst); Audrey Hepburn (star of Truman’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s); Humphrey Bogart (star of Truman’s “Beat the Devil”); Jackie Kennedy (Invited to the 1966 party but did not attend, Her sister Lee Radziwell did attend and was considered a “swan”); Norman Mailer (party guest); Ernest Hemingway (friend); William F. Buckley (party guest), Andy Warhol (good friend); Gore Vidal (acquaintance of Capote’s); John Steinbeck (party guest and friend of Slim Keith); Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson (all 3 had close relatives who were guests at the Ball).  

__*2 “You told the truth about Truman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance is a work of art unto itself,” wrote Lee,” in a fax to the movie’s filmmakers.

(From Lloyd Grove’s feature article, “The Truman Show Draws Big Fan Club”).

  *3 Pamela Harriman, Marella Agnelli  and Slim Keith also have links to each other through their romantic relationships. Pamela was a beau of Marella Agnelli’s husband before Marella and Gianni Agnelli were married. Harriman was also married to Slim Keith’s husband, Leland Hayward, after the former couples’ divorce.See links below for more about former fashion model and Miss Florence, Princess Marella Caraciolo di Castagneto (later known as Marella Agnelli).


More on “The Party of the Century” 

*1According to Vanity Fair, “What gave the Black and White brew its intoxicating piquancy was the fact that he had flung together, in a gilt-edged melting pot, the most alluring power brokers in the worlds of high society, politics, the arts, and Hollywood—disconnected universes that collided, if not for the first time that evening, then at least with unprecedented force.  “I have always observed, “Capote told Esquire, “in almost every situation, and I have been in almost every situation, that people tend to cling to their own types.  The very rich people, for instance, tend to like the company of very rich people.  The international social set like international socialites. Writers writers, artists artists. I have thought for years that it would be interesting to bring these disparate people together and see what happens.” What happened that night was reportedly spectacular.  From Deborah Davis’  “Party of the Century”, p. 3 “If the Black and White Ball was famous even before it happened, it became legend in the decades that followed.  Throughout the 1960’s, the ‘70s the ‘80s, and the 90’s, magazines such as Vogue, Esquire and Vanity Fair continue to run stories about this extraordinary night, searching for reasons why the event was a cultural and sociological benchmark.  With every description and photograph, the party’s significance increased. Pundits analyzed it, and fashion layouts celebrated it.

The ball was also a window into a bright and beckoning world. The 1960’s, a decade often defined by images of Jackie Kennedy’s sunglasses, James Bond’s martinis, Andy Warhol’s soup cans and Mary Quant’s miniskirt were a time of high style and high expectations. Life seemed more glamorous then—sex was sexier, success more attainable. Even the moon, as the space program promised, was within reach for the very first time.”

  From Vanity Fair, “The Party,” Gerald Clarke notes, “was the product of the literary mind”—in this case, a manipulative instrument whose considerable might was applied to assembling a cast of characters and moving them about like so many chess pieces. In his diminutive hands he controlled, or so it seemed, the destinies of an international group of players who could rouse presidents to action, steer the course of a country’s economy, determine the silhouettes of millions of women, compose the soundtrack of a generation.” 


Other Capote links and references… 

Here is an interview with Sigourney Weaver and Hope Davis for the new movie, “Infamous.”  And here is a preview for the movie, “Capote”