What REALLY happened to Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill and Slim Keith? As the Swans have their scandals and secrets exposed in Truman Capote drama, a look inside the socialites’ tragic fates

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • A new FX show called Feud: Capote vs. the Swans is re-telling Capote’s story
  • But what happened to the women who had inspired his shocking tell-all?
  • FEMAIL revealed how the highly-publicized fall-out impacted each of them 

When acclaimed author Truman Capote released a shocking tell-all exposing the deepest and darkest secrets of Manhattan’s top socialites, it was a dramatic turn of events that captured the nation.

The sensational story is one that has now been catapulted back into the headlines thanks to Ryan Murphy’s new FX show Feud: Capote vs. the Swans, which premiered on January 31 and retold the novelist’s epic integration into high society – as well as his fall from grace following the backlash he received by using the women for his work.

But what happened to the stunning beauties that became the subjects of Capote’s story in the aftermath of its release is something that’s not as known.

Some of them continued to dominate the social ladder – while others suffered from their own quick fall from the top thanks to Capote’s shattering of the picture-perfect image that they had worked so hard to create. 

 A new FX series made by Ryan Murphy, entitled Feud: Capote vs. the Swans, is re-telling the fascinating story of how Truman Capote exposed the darkest secret’s of NYC’s top socialites

The backlash over it ultimately sent Capote (seen in 1966) into a downward spiral - but what happened to the women that were the subjects of his story?

The backlash over it ultimately sent Capote (seen in the show, portrayed by Tom Hollander) into a downward spiral - but what happened to the women that were the subjects of his story?

The backlash over it ultimately sent Capote (seen left in real life and right in the show) into a downward spiral – but what happened to the women that were the subjects of his story?

As the incidents come back into the spotlight thanks to the new series, FEMAIL revealed just how o each of the women were effected by the highly-publicized fallout. Babe Paley is seen

As the incidents come back into the spotlight thanks to the new series, FEMAIL revealed just how o each of the women were effected by the highly-publicized fallout. Babe Paley is seen

Alabama-born Capote befriended the rich and famous following the success of his novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which inspired the Oscar-winning movie of the same name, as well as his non-fiction crime novel In Cold Blood.

He called his new group of friends The Swans, which consisted of Babe Paley, the wife of CBS co-founder William Paley, model and fashion star Slim Keith, President John F. Kennedy’s sister-in-law Lee Radziwill, C.Z. Guest, whose closed friends the  Duke of Windsor Edward VIII and the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, actress Ann Woodward, who was hailed as the ‘most beautiful girl on radio,’ and talk show host Joanne Carson.

They were the top of the crop in New York City, but all of that changed after the novelist used everything he learned during his time with them to write a book. 

Some of them continued to dominate the social ladder - while others suffered from their own descend from the top thanks to Capote's shattering of the picture-perfect image that they had worked so hard to create. A poster for the new show is seen

Some of them continued to dominate the social ladder – while others suffered from their own descend from the top thanks to Capote’s shattering of the picture-perfect image that they had worked so hard to create. A poster for the new show is seen 

While he never finished the novel, he released a chapter of it, called La Côte Basque 1965, via Esquire magazine in 1975, and in it, he spared little while divulging the intimate details of their lives.

He spoke of explosive affairs and love triangles, and told stories of cheating, lying, and even murder – ultimately getting himself exiled from his newfound friend group, and eventually leading to the demise of his own career. 

Reading about the inner workings of the top socialites engulfed the nation, but despite its success, Capote fiercely struggled to come to grips with the sudden ostracization he faced from his new friends.

Suddenly, the star was viewed as a traitor and completely alienated from his established circle, who worried they might be the next to fall victim to his stories. 

He soon began on a downward spiral that saw him battle drugs and alcohol for years – before he passed away from liver disease aged 59.

Capote’s story didn’t only impact his own life and career, but it also had major implications on each of the women who had inspired it.

As the incidents come back into the spotlight thanks to the new FX series, FEMAIL has revealed just what happened to each of The Swans following the highly-publicized fallout. 

Some used the attention to further their careers – like Guest, who went on to launch multiple clothing lines and her own insect repellent business – but others crumbled – like Woodward, who tragically ended her life after hearing of Capote’s plans to expose her secrets to the world.

Babe Paley never spoke to Capote again after he released the tell-all – and died of lung cancer a few years later

Paley made her debut as a debutante at age 19 and later became a top fashion editor at Vogue in 1939. She's seen in 1954

Paley made her debut as a debutante at age 19 and later became a top fashion editor at Vogue in 1939. She’s seen in 1954

After marrying CBS co-founder William S. Paley in 1947, Paley (seen here in 1967) quit her job to become a full-time socialite

After marrying CBS co-founder William S. Paley in 1947, Paley (seen here in 1967) quit her job to become a full-time socialite

Born Barbara Cushing, Paley made her debut as a debutante at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston in 1933, when she was 19.

Her father was renowned neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing, who made many strides in the medical world and was notably the first to discover Cushing’s Disease – a condition that occurs after exposure to high cortisol levels. 

Her life took an unexpected turn after a 1934 car accident resulted in her losing all of her front teeth and needing a jaw reconstruction.

However, she did not let her injury stop her from chasing her dreams, and managed to score an entry-level job at Glamour magazine in 1935.

Paley later landed a job as a Vogue editor in 1939, and in 1940, she married her first husband Stanley Grafton Mortimer Jr. in one of the biggest events of the social season.

The editor and Mortimer divorced in 1946 and she took custody of their two kids Stanley Grafton Mortimer III and Amanda Jay Mortimer.

By the time the divorce was finalized, the fashion icon had already been spending time with CBS co-founder William S. Paley, who had recently split from his wife.

The pair married in 1947 and Paley left her job shortly afterward to become a full-time socialite.

Paley gave birth to the couple’s two children Bill Paley and Kate Cushing Paley in 1948 and 1950.

By the 1970s, Paley and her husband (seen in 1965) were at the top of New York society and living a life of luxury - but Capote exposed the radio mogul's infidelities in his book

By the 1970s, Paley and her husband (seen in 1965) were at the top of New York society and living a life of luxury – but Capote exposed the radio mogul’s infidelities in his book

It was said that she never spoke to Capote again following his expose. She died in 1978 from lung cancer, one day before her 63rd birthday. She's seen in 1974

It was said that she never spoke to Capote again following his expose. She died in 1978 from lung cancer, one day before her 63rd birthday. She’s seen in 1974

Naomi Watts is playing Paley in the show. Paley is seen in 1956

Naomi Watts is playing Paley in the show. Watts is seen portraying Paley in the show

Naomi Watts is playing Paley in the show. Paley is seen left in real life and right in the series

The former Vogue editor did everything for the family, from planning extravagant parties to Christmas shopping all year round. 

By the 1970s, Paley and her husband were at the top of New York society and living a life of luxury.

‘They simply had an overabundance of taste,’ Capote told a reporter in 1972. 

He also once said of the Vogue editor, ‘Babe Paley had only one fault. She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect.’ 

The couple resided in a stunning apartment at the St. Regis hotel, and spent their weekends at their sprawling mansion in Long Island, which sat on 80 acres of land.

They also purchased an estate on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, where they hosted numerous celebrities over the years.

Sadly, Paley’s marriage was far from perfect, and the radio mogul became known for his extramarital affairs, one rumored to be with Marilyn Monroe. 

Capote used the couple’s problems as inspiration in his book, exposing the radio mogul’s infidelities to the world. 

‘After three years of the marriage she really almost wanted out,’ he once said in an interview, while discussing Paley. 

Even so, Paley and her husband did stay together – despite the incessant whispers that he had been unfaithful.

She was diagnosed with lunch cancer in 1974 – one year before Capote released La Côte Basque 1965.

She famously planned her own funeral ahead of her death, picking out everything from the guest list to the food that would be served. 

She lost her battle to the disease on July 6, 1978, and was buried in Memorial Cemetery of St. John’s Church. Her husband was later buried next to her when he passed away in 1990.

It was said that she never spoke to Capote again following his expose, and he was not invited to the funeral. 

‘The tragedy is that we never made up before she died,’ Capote said years later.

Paley was included on Time’s best-dressed list a whopping 14 times over the course of her life, and was inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1958. 

Naomi Watts is portraying Paley in the new series, and she will also serve as an executive producer on it.

Slim Keith considered suing Capote for libel following his tell-all, but ultimately spent her later years living a quiet life out of the spotlight

Slim Keith was married three times - to acclaimed director Howard Hawks (seen), theater producer Leland Hayward, and British banker Kenneth Keith

Slim Keith was married three times – to acclaimed director Howard Hawks (seen), theater producer Leland Hayward, and British banker Kenneth Keith

Diane Lane is playing Slim in the show, a model who has been dubbed as the original 'California Girl.' She's seen in real life

It’s been rumored that she inspired the character Lady Ina in Capote’s book – a divorcee often pursuing new husbands that only had to be ‘rich’ and ‘technically alive’ 

Born Nancy Gross, Keith got her start in the Hollywood scene when she was 17 years old after she left school to pursue a career in modeling, and met actor William Powell.

The two crossed paths at a California resort after Powell spotted her diving into the pool.

Powell eventually came up with the stage name Slim, and introduced her to William Randolph Hearst, the head of mega media company Hearst Communications, who helped turn her into a major fashion icon of the 1950s and 1960s.

At age 22, she appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, and was often included on the magazine’s best-dressed list over the years. 

Several men chased after Keith over the years, including Clark Gable. However, nothing ever happened between the two, and she went on to marry acclaimed director Howard Hawks in 1941.

Together, they welcomed a baby girl, but she ultimately left him for theater producer Leland Hayward. 

Following Capote's alienation, Keith banished him from her life. Vanity Fair reported that she even 'consulted a lawyer about suing Capote for libel' afterwards. She's seen in 1974

Following Capote’s alienation, Keith banished him from her life. Vanity Fair reported that she even ‘consulted a lawyer about suing Capote for libel’ afterwards. She’s seen in 1974

She passed away in April 1990 at age 72 from lung cancer. She's seen in 1984

She passed away in April 1990 at age 72 from lung cancer. She’s seen in 1984

After 10 years with Hayward, he dumped Keith for socialite Pamela Churchill. She then married for a third time in 1962 to British banker Kenneth Keith, before they too split in 1972.

Diane Lane is now playing Keith in Feud: Capote vs. The Swans. The actress is seen in the series as Keith

Diane Lane is now playing Keith in Feud: Capote vs. The Swans. The actress is seen in the series as Keith

It’s been rumored that she inspired the character Lady Ina in Capote’s book – a divorcee often pursuing new husbands that only had to be ‘rich’ and ‘technically alive.’

Following Capote’s alienation, Keith banished him from her life like many of the other socialites. Vanity Fair reported that she even ‘consulted a lawyer about suing Capote for libel’ afterwards.

She lived a quiet life in New York City after the fallout, and released a memoir, entitled Slim: Memories of a Rich and Imperfect Life, in 1990 just before her death.

She passed away in April of that year at age 72 from lung cancer. Diane Lane is now playing Keith in Feud: Capote vs. The Swans. 

Lee Radziwill is one of the few who stayed friends with Capote and even defended him – and she launched her own interior design firm

Lee Radziwill (seen with Capote) was the younger sister of former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis and the sister-in-law of President John F. Kennedy

Lee Radziwill (seen with Capote) was the younger sister of former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis and the sister-in-law of President John F. Kennedy

In 1950, she made her debutante debut and a full-page picture of her at the event was featured in Life magazine, which skyrocketed her into the spotlight. She's seen in 1976

In 1950, she made her debutante debut and a full-page picture of her at the event was featured in Life magazine, which skyrocketed her into the spotlight. She’s seen in 1976

Radziwill was more than just a New York City socialite, she was also the younger sister of former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Radziwill was born Caroline Lee Bouvier on March 3, 1933, from stockbroker John Vernou Bouvier and socialite Janet Norton Lee, and was raised in a 12-room duplex on 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan.

After her famous coming out party led to her glamorous full-page photograph being published in a December 1950 issue of Life magazine, she slowly became an official member of the New York City social circle.

She briefly tried her hand at acting, and was cast in the 1967 play The Philadelphia Story in Chicago. She also starred in the TV movie Laura a year later. 

But both received poor reviews and she ultimately decided to stop acting and focus on her rise as a fashion icon and socialite instead. 

She married American diplomat Michael Temple Canfield in 1953, but they divorced in 1958.

Radziwill later married Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł in 1959, a Polish prince whom she shared two children with, named Anthony and Anna.

She met Capote at an intimate lunch in 1962 and the pair became close friends in the years following.

She briefly tried her hand at acting, and was cast in the 1967 play The Philadelphia Story in Chicago. She also starred in the TV movie Laura a year later. She's seen in 1985

She briefly tried her hand at acting, and was cast in the 1967 play The Philadelphia Story in Chicago. She also starred in the TV movie Laura a year later. She’s seen in 1985

was one of the few to stay friends with Capote after the release of the first chapter, and actually defended him over the years. They're seen in 1967

was one of the few to stay friends with Capote after the release of the first chapter, and actually defended him over the years. They’re seen in 1967

Radziwill was often spotted mingling with Hollywood’s most elite, and even went on tour with The Rolling Stones at one point with her close friend Capote. 

But the late 1960s became a difficult time period for Radziwill, allegedly due to her jealously toward her sister, the First Lady – which was only heightened after Kennedy’s marriage to Radziwill’s ex, Aristotle Onassis. 

‘She was consumed with jealousy. It was all she could think about, all she could talk about,’ Vanity Fair wrote of Radziwill.

‘Her sister had done nothing wrong, but that did not matter. Kennedy had transcended Radziwill in a manner that, in Radziwill’s eyes, was destroying her life. 

‘She had what almost anyone would say was everything – more than everything – yet she was so dissatisfied, so empty, so lost.’

Her marriage to the Prince also came to an end in 1974 – and Capote used her jealousy of her sister and her failing marriage in his book.

Even so, she was one of the few to stay friends with Capote after the release of the first chapter, and actually defended him over the years. 

‘He was taken advantage of by a lot of people he thought were his friends. After all, he was fun and interesting to talk to, and brilliant. Why wouldn’t they want to have him around?’ she once said.

‘He was absolutely in shock,’ she added of the reaction from her peers. ‘He’d say, “But I’m a journalist – everybody knows that I’m a journalist.”

‘I just don’t think he realized what he was doing, because, God, did he pay for it. That’s what put him back to serious drinking. 

‘And then, of course, the terrible fear that he could never write another word again. It was all downhill from then on.’

Radziwill said she and Capote ultimately ‘drifted apart because of his drinking,’ adding, ‘We just forgot about one another. 

Later in life, she launched an interior design firm and released two books before passing away in 2019. She's seen with Capote

Later in life, she launched an interior design firm and released two books before passing away in 2019. She’s seen with Capote

Calista Flockhart is playing her in the show. Radziwill is seen in 1959

Calista Flockhart is playing her in the show. Flockhart is seen right portraying her in the show

Calista Flockhart is playing her in the show. Radziwill is seen left in real life and Flockhart is seen right portraying her in the show

‘I mean, I never forgot about him, but we didn’t see each other, because he wasn’t making any sense whatsoever. 

‘It was pitiful. Heartbreaking, because there was nothing you could do. He really wanted to kill himself. It was a slow and painful suicide.’

She said the final straw was when she invited him to her stunning country house in England and he ‘broke most of the furniture’ in the guest house he stayed in. 

It’s also been said that her refusal to testify on Capote’s behalf in a slander lawsuit filed against him in the ’70s drove a wedge between them.

In her later years, Radziwill started to gain attention for the way she decorated her multiple stunning homes – including her London townhouse, Manhattan apartment, and Paris manor – and she began working as an interior designer, founding her own interior design firm in 1976.

She was also named by Vanity Fair as the Best Dressed in 1996, and went on to release two books.

She wed for a third time, to actor Herbert Ross in 1988, but that marriage ended in 2001.

Her son Anthony died an untimely death at age 40, less than one month after her nephew John F. Kennedy, Jr. was killed in a plane crash.

Radziwill died at age 85 on February 15, 2019, in her Upper East Side apartment of natural causes.

Calista Flockhart is playing the role of Radziwill in the Murphy’s new FX series. 

C.Z. Guest released her own clothing line and launched an insect repellent business – and managed to stay prominent in social circles

Model and actress C.Z. Guest married polo champion Winston Frederick Churchill Guest in 1947, the son of British politician Frederick Guest and the second cousin of Winston Churchill

Model and actress C.Z. Guest married polo champion Winston Frederick Churchill Guest in 1947, the son of British politician Frederick Guest and the second cousin of Winston Churchill

A prominent figure, their marriage cemented Guest as a top socialite, and she often mingled with A-list stars, politicians, and even royals. She's seen in 1955

A prominent figure, their marriage cemented Guest as a top socialite, and she often mingled with A-list stars, politicians, and even royals. She’s seen in 1955

Born Lucy Douglas Cochrane in 1920, Guest made her debut into society in 1937 and was voted the glamor girl of the Massachusetts North Shore in 1939.

In her early years, she worked as an actress and model, landing a role in Broadway’s Ziegfield Follies in 1944. 

In March 1947, Guest married polo champion Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, the son of British politician Frederick Guest and the second cousin of Winston Churchill. They welcomed two kids together. 

Since he was a prominent figure, their marriage cemented Guest as a top socialite, meaning she often mingled with A-list stars, politicians, and even royals. 

Their other celebrity pals included Ernest Hemingway – who served as the best man at their wedding – and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who were godparents to their kids. 

Like Radziwill, Guest was one of the few members of The Swans to remain friends with Capote after he released his tell-all – and she and her husband were by his side when he entered rehab for the first time. 

Later in life, Guest (seen in 1955) became a writer and launched her own clothing line. She also started an insect repellent business

Later in life, Guest (seen in 1955) became a writer and launched her own clothing line. She also started an insect repellent business

Like Radziwill, Guest was one of the few members of The Swans to remain friends with Capote after he released his tell-all. She died in 2003 at age 83. She and Capote are seen in 1968

Like Radziwill, Guest was one of the few members of The Swans to remain friends with Capote after he released his tell-all. She died in 2003 at age 83. She and Capote are seen in 1968

The blonde bombshell is being played by Chloë Sevigny in the show. Guest is seen

The blonde bombshell is being played by Chloë Sevigny in the show. Sevigny is seen portraying her in the show

The blonde bombshell is being played by Chloë Sevigny in the show. Guest is seen left in real life and Sevigny is seen portraying her in the show right

Guest became a writer in the 1970s, and began writing a syndicated weekly column in 1976 that appeared in 350 newspapers across the nation. 

She eventually released a book called First Garden, which had an introduction from her ‘dear, dear friend,’ Capote.

In addition, she became a booming businesswoman, releasing her own line of cashmere sweaters and sportswear, as well as a set of fragrance insect repellents and other gardening supplies.

She was also named commissioner general of the American garden exhibit of the International Garden Festival in England in 1984. 

Guest and her husband managed to stay prominent in social circles before his death in 1982. 

She died in November 2003 at age 83 after experiencing difficulty breathing. The blonde bombshell is being played by Chloë Sevigny in the show. 

Ann Woodward tragically ended her life by poisoning herself days before the release of Capote’s first chapter

Ann Woodward was a model, radio actress, and socialite - but was best known for killing her husband, William Woodward Jr.

Ann Woodward was a model, radio actress, and socialite – but was best known for killing her husband, William Woodward Jr.

They tied the knot in 1943, and went on to welcome two sons together - but their marriage was rocked by his infidelities. They're seen in 1955

They tied the knot in 1943, and went on to welcome two sons together – but their marriage was rocked by his infidelities. They’re seen in 1955

Woodward was born Evangeline Lucille Crowell in 1915 in Kansas and moved to New York City to pursue a career in modelling in 1937.

She eventually signed with the John Roberts Powers modeling agency, which helped her land radio acting roles – and by 1940, she had earned the title of ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in Radio.’ 

There are rumors that she struck up an affair with her future-husband’s father, a wealthy banker named William Woodward Sr., while she was working as a showgirl at a Manhattan nightclub – before marrying his son, William Woodward Jr., in 1943.  

The couple went on to welcome two sons together – but their marriage was rocked by her husband’s infidelities, and he ultimately asked for a divorce in 1947, which she refused.  

In 1955, Woodward shot and killed her husband, but she claimed at the trial that she believed he was an intruder entering her house, as there had been a string of burglaries in the neighborhood ahead of the incident. 

In 1955, Woodward shot and killed her husband, but she claimed in the trial that she believed he was an intruder entering her house. She's seen in 1942

In 1955, Woodward shot and killed her husband, but she claimed in the trial that she believed he was an intruder entering her house. She’s seen in 1942

A jury ruled that it was an accident and she was never charged with any crime, but it resulted in her being exiled from high society much like Capote. She's seen in 1942

A jury ruled that it was an accident and she was never charged with any crime, but it resulted in her being exiled from high society much like Capote. She’s seen in 1942

Just after rumors erupted that Capote was writing a story about the socialites and she would be a part of it, Woodward took her own life using cyanide poisoning. She's seen in 1940

Just after rumors erupted that Capote was writing a story about the socialites and she would be a part of it, Woodward took her own life using cyanide poisoning. She’s seen in 1940

A jury ruled that it was an accident and she was never charged with any crime, but it resulted in her being exiled from high society – much like Capote.

She is being played by Demi Moore in the FX series. Moore is seen in the show

She is being played by Demi Moore in the FX series. Moore is seen in the show

In his expose, Capote wrote about a woman named Ann Hopkins who brutally killed her spouse in an attempt to steal his money. 

And many were quick to notice that numerous details of the crime in Capote’s story were strikingly similar to Woodward’s, posing the question – did Capote believe that she had purposely slayed her husband to steal his wealth?

Just after rumors erupted that Capote was writing a story about the socialites and that she would be a part of it, Woodward took her own life using cyanide.

Some have wondered if it was Capote’s tell-all that drove her to suicide, but others have said that she had suffered from depression long before word got out that Capote was writing the book.

Woodward’s tragic story was the subject of a novel by Dominick Dunne in 1985, called The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, which became a miniseries two years later. She is being played by Demi Moore in the FX series. 

Joanne Carson went back to school to get her Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and physiology and stayed immensely close to Capote

Joanne Carson went back to school to get her Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and physiology and stayed immensely close to Capote. She's seen in 1968

Joanne Carson went back to school to get her Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and physiology and stayed immensely close to Capote. She’s seen in 1968

Molly Ringwald is portraying her in the show. Carson is seen in 1965

Molly Ringwald is portraying her in the show. Ringwald is seen playing her in the show

Molly Ringwald is portraying her in the show. Carson is seen left in real life and Ringwald is seen right playing her in the show

Born Joanne Copeland, Carson worked as a model and stewardess for Pan American World Airways.

It was during that time that she met popular TV host Johnny Carson, and they married in 1963. They were together for nine years before divorcing in 1972. 

Carson went on to become a talk show host herself, eventually launching her own syndicated show that focused on health and fitness, called Joanne Carson’s VIPs.

She focused on her education later in life, and went back to school to receive her master’s in psychology and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and physiology.

She stayed close with Capote despite the fall-out, and he was actually at her house when he died in 1984. She herself passed away in 2015 at age 83. 

She is being played by Molly Ringwald in Feud: Capote vs. the Swans.

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