What would you do if you told your friend a secret and they published it in a prestigious magazine to be read by people all over town? When Babe Paley found herself in such a situation, she decided not only to take a stand but also to make sure that the “friend” who’d done this to her never got to do it to anyone else. The person in question was Truman Capote, who suddenly found himself thrown out of his friend circle, especially his best friend, who refused to talk to him. But then, it is said that the friendships that run deep have the power to survive any crisis. Did the same hold true for Capote and Paley? Did they ever set aside their differences and end their feud? SPOILERS AHEAD
Babe Paley Stood by Her Decision to Cast Capote Out of Her Life
When Babe Paley and Truman Capote met for the first time, they had a chemistry, a sense of understanding that made them kindred souls. Babe was already a much-beloved figure in her circle while Capote was enjoying his literary success. Things were good for them, and their friendship only got better with time. There came a point when she started confiding her most shocking secrets to him, believing that he would never tell another soul. But then, Capote subverted expectations and did something Babe could never recover from.
Babe Paley’s husband cheated on her. She knew it, and she knew who he cheated her on with. But there was an unspoken agreement, where Babe would often turn a blind eye to her husband’s extramarital affairs. Until one day, she couldn’t. She talked about the entire thing with Capote, the only person she loved and trusted more than anyone. But then, sometime later, he used her story in his upcoming book, the excerpt of which was published in Esquire.
While Capote used different names to veil the subjects, everyone knew who he was talking about when referred to a certain character. The piece, titled ‘La Côte Basque 1965,’ after the restaurant that served as the ladies’ hangout spot, created waves, which Babe Paley thought she’d drown in. It was extremely embarrassing for her, and to have the entire world know about it was something that Babe could never recover from.
It must have felt like an even worse blow because when the piece came out, Babe had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Processing something like that is not easy, so to discover that the person you loved and trusted the most has made a joke out of you must have felt like the worst betrayal. Such was the anger and dejection for Babe that she decided never to speak to Capote again, and she stood by it till her last breath.
The moment the article came out, Babe stopped taking Capote’s calls, even when he realized that he’d made a mistake, even when she missed him, and he missed her, even when he got caught in a cycle of abuse that would eventually claim his life; even when he got desperate to patch things up with her. Babe refused to take Capote’s calls and never wavered, even when some of her friends tried to reason otherwise. Her decision to cut him off from her life was followed by other women, and soon, Capote was entirely thrown out of his circle.
Three years later, when Babe succumbed to her illness, she died without having said another word to him. Capote wasn’t invited to the funeral or the memorial and had to accept the fact that he’d lost his best friend and that he could never patch things up with her, no matter how much he wanted to. Despite his betrayal, one can gauge the extent of Capote’s love for Babe from the fact that some called her “his North Star.” Capote is said to have said this for his friend: “Mrs. P had only one fault: she was perfect; otherwise, she was perfect.” He later stated that it was the biggest tragedy of his life that he never got to patch up with her.