A 1960s “party of the century” at the Plaza Hotel

November 28, 1966 was a rainy Monday in Manhattan. That didn’t stop the city’s elite from donning black and white attire and eye masks and attending the exclusive Black and White Ball—a masquerade party thrown by writer Truman Capote for Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post.


“The guests, as spectacular a group as has ever been assembled for a private party in New York, were an international who’s who of notables,” wrote Charlotte Curtis for The New York Times.

Miaandfrankblackandwhiteball“There were 510 diplomats, politicians, scientists, painters, writers, composers, actors, producers, dress designers, social figures, tycoons, and what Mr. Capote called ‘international types, lots of beautiful women and ravishing little things.'”

The invite list reads like a time capsule of the mid-1960s: Lynda Bird Johnson, Candice Bergen (below), newlyweds Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow (left), Diana Vreeland, William F. Buckley, Andy Warhol, George Plimpton, and assorted Vanderbilts, Fords, and Kennedys.

Capote forked over $16,000 for the event. “The ballroom had been done up in red, with not a flower in sight—‘the people are the flowers,’ declared Capote,” states At the Plaza by Curtis Gathje.

CandicebergenblackandwhiteballWrites Deborah Davis in The Party of the Century: “Jean Harvey Vanderbilt compared the party to the court of Louis XV because ‘people promenaded around the perimeter of the room in their finery, looking at each other.’ One guest commented, ‘It’s weird, there are only black and white and red in this room, and yet everything’s so . . . so colorful.'”

TrumancapoteblackandwhiteballCBS News covered the party live from the coat room (so much for the idea that celebrity-driven media is a new thing).

At the end of the evening, Capote (with Katherine Graham, left), flying high thanks to the recent success of In Cold Blood, remarked, “It was just what it set out to be . . . I just wanted to give a party for my friends.”

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4 Responses to “A 1960s “party of the century” at the Plaza Hotel”

  1. NEWS BLOG 24-7. com » Blog Archive » A 1960s “party of the century” at the Plaza Hotel Says:

    […] Read More: A 1960s “party of the century” at the Plaza Hotel […]

  2. Kim Says:

    Hello! I am searching for the name of the dress shop, as well as any information on its owner (?) the Countess, that I’ve been told ran a shop in the Plaza Hotel for a number of years in the 50s, 60s and possibly throughout the next several years. I would appreciate any information! My email is kimokc74@gmail.com. I met her at Fashion Week, Lincoln Center approximately 2010 – 2015(?). I would like to say “thank you” to her for giving me a very special experience!
    Thank you for your help in advance! It means a great deal!

  3. What became of the first, short-lived Plaza Hotel | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the Plaza Hotel finally opened its doors on October 1, 1890, the debut of this elegant, long-awaited hotel […]

  4. Dexter Says:

    hey the dress code was pretty good with eye covering masks I want to throw such party like 1960’s for my friends enjoyed reading it.

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