"They rolled off the assembly line like dolls," Enid Nemy wrote of the guests in The New York Times, "newly painted and freshly coiffed, packaged in silk, satin and jewels and addressed to Truman Capote, the Plaza Hotel."
Spectacular masks, such as the golden-curled unicorn head that Gene Moore created for the interior designer Billy Baldwin, received special praise from the appreciative host. "Oh, Billy, that's fantastic," Truman congratulated him. Isabella Eberstadt's fanciful black and white entwined swans, fashioned by the multi-talented milliner, writer, and photographer Bill Cunningham, created a sensation, as did the cartoonist Charles Addams's grim executioner's mask.
For the most part, women seemed to enjoy wearing their masks. Some dutiful ladies even complied with Truman's request to carry fans, although it was difficult to hold a mask and a fan at the same time. Predictably, most of the men were not as keen on covering their faces. Like disobedient children, they guiltily dispensed with their masks as soon as possible. "It itches and I can't see," grumbled Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt about his cat mask. George Plimpton, author of Paper Tiger, had a different complaint. The inside of his mask was covered with glue that gave off intoxicating fumes, and he was dizzy until it finally occurred to him to take it off before he passed out. Andy Warhol outsmarted everyone with his ingenious solution to the mask problem: he simply didn't wear one.
At about 2:45, Sinatra asked the people at his table if anyone wanted to join him at Jilly's, his favorite bar. Truman begged him not to leave the party, knowing that its high wattage would be diminished, but Sinatra was ready to move on. He tipped Joe Evangelista with a hundred-dollar bill, called on the Secret Service men for help, and made a speedy escape, leading Mia, the Haywards, and Herb and Theresa Caen through back passageways to the street below. As Joe cleared Sinatra's table, he vowed that he would save the bill to commemorate the wonderful night.
The chosen few: a selection from Capote's guest list
Mr and Mrs Gianni Agnelli, Count Umberto Agnelli, Edward Albee, Mrs W Vincent Astor, Mr and Mrs Richard Avedon, James Baldwin, Miss Tallulah Bankhead, Cecil Beaton, Mr and Mrs Harry Belafonte, Marisa Berenson, Candice Bergen, Mr and Mrs Irving Berlin, Sir Isaiah and Lady Berlin, Mr and Mrs Leonard Bernstein, Mr and Mrs Benjamin Bradlee, Mr and Mrs William Buckley, Mr and Mrs Richard Burton, Prince Carlo Caracciolo, Lord Chalfont, Dr and Mrs John Converse, Noël Coward, Mr and Mrs Walter Cronkite, Mr and Mrs Sammy Davis Jr, Oscar de la Renta, Marlene Dietrich, Elliott Erwitt, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Mrs Marshall Field, Mr and Mrs Henry Fonda, Joan Fontaine, Mr and Mrs Henry Ford 2nd, Mr and Mrs John Kenneth Galbraith, Greta Garbo, Ambassador and Mrs Arthur J Goldberg, Mr and Mrs Samuel Goldwyn, Henry Golightly, Hamish Hamilton, Ambassador and Mrs W Averell Harriman, Mr and Mrs William Randolph Hearst Jr, Mr and Mrs Henry J Heinz 2nd, Miss Lillian Hellman, Elizabeth Hilton, Horst P Horst, Christopher Isherwood, Maharajah and Maharani of Jaipur, Senator and Mrs Jacob K Javits, Lynda Bird Johnson, Philip Johnson, Senator and Mrs Edward M Kennedy, Mrs John F Kennedy, Mrs Joseph P Kennedy, Senator and Mrs Robert F Kennedy, Alfred Knopf, Mr and Mrs Joseph Kraft, Mrs Patricia Lawford, Mr and Mrs Irving Lazar, Harper Lee, Vivien Leigh, Mr and Mrs Jack Lemmon, Mr and Mrs Alan Jay Lerner, Mr and Mrs Alexander Lieberman, Mr and Mrs Robert Lowell, Mr and Mrs Henry Luce, Shirley MacLaine, Mr and Mrs Norman Mailer, Mr and Mrs Joseph Mankiewicz, Mr and Mrs Walter Matthau, Mr and Mrs Robert McNamara, Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon, Mr and Mrs James Michener, Mr and Mrs Arthur Miller, Mr and Mrs Vincent Minnelli, Mr and Mrs Samuel I Newhouse Sr, Mrs Stavros Niarchos, Mike Nichols, Lord and Lady David Ogilvy, Mr and Mrs Gregory Peck, George Plimpton, Prince and Princess Stanislas Radziwill, Mr and Mrs Jason Robards Jr, Governor and Mrs Nelson A Rockefeller, Philip Roth, Baroness Cecile de Rothschild, Baron and Baroness Guy de Rothschild, Theodore Rousseau, Mr and Mrs Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Mrs David O Selznick, Mr and Mrs Irwin Shaw, Mr and Mrs Frank Sinatra, Steve Sondheim, Sam Spiegel, Mr and Mrs John Steinbeck, Gloria Steinem, Mr and Mrs William Styron, Mr and Mrs Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Ambassador and Mrs Llewellyn E Thompson, Penelope Tree, Mr and Mrs Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Mrs T Reed Vreeland, William Walton, Mr and Mrs Edward Warburg, Andy Warhol, Mr and Mrs Robert Penn Warren, Mr and Mrs John Hay Whitney, Mr and Mrs Billy Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Mr and Mrs Edmund Wilson, Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Darryl Zanuck
Via- The Independent
Via- The Independent