Did Truman Capote and Slim Keith Become Friends in Real Life?

A betrayal of the worst kind occurs in ‘Feud: Capote vs the Swans,’ when Truman Capote decides to mine the lives of his close friends to write a scandalous novel. When an excerpt from the novel is published in the papers, it creates a chasm between him and his Swans, who served as the subjects of his story, and despite his efforts to make up and apologize, he is pushed out of the group and confined to the periphery, never allowed again in their lives he had turned into a mockery.

In its final episode, ‘Feud’ allows Capote a possibility, another timeline where he got to make amends and be with his friends again. The toughest nut to crack was Slim Keith, who spearheaded the campaign against Truman, making sure he never entered their lives again. In his dreams, Truman gets through to her, too. But did it happen in real life?

Truman Capote and Slim Keith Never Made Up

Introduced by Babe Paley, Truman Capote and Slim Keith found kindred spirits in each other. Truman said Slim reminded him of his mother, but that was not the only reason he was drawn to her. Like him, Slim also had a rough childhood; she too had to deal with the divorce of her parents, and having chosen her mother over her father, she had to pave a path of her own, eventually landing in the topmost tier of high society. Truman saw bits of himself in her, and this feeling was reciprocated.

Slim once said about Truman that he had “a really extraordinary mind” and that he was “one of the three or four brightest people” she’d ever known in her life. Slim found Truman fun and exciting, and they quickly bonded with each other, gossiping about everything, including the other Swans. He called her “Big Mama,” and apart from talking about the scandals and affairs in high society, his conversations with Slim would also turn intimate, where he would talk about his insecurities and vulnerability to her.

Perhaps it was this habit of talking to each other about everything and anything that made Truman use Slim as the catty Lady Ina Coolbirth in his infamous ‘La Côte Basque, 1965,’ which was published in Esquire. While the rest of the Swans had their husband’s affairs talked about, Lady Ina was presented more as Truman’s alias Jonesy’s co-conspirator, the duo chatting away about the other Swans.

When Slim read the article, she was appalled by Truman’s treatment of her. It must have been some guilt on her part to have gossiped about the other Swans with him and given him material for his book. She also didn’t approve of how she was presented in the book. The words “a big breezy peppy broad” and “a much married and divorced society matron” were used to describe her. As soon as the article came out, Slim immediately took charge, and not only did she decide to cut off all communication with Truman, but she also made sure that the rest of the Swans followed suit.

Whatever Truman expected in response to his article didn’t come close to what actually happened. He didn’t expect to be completely shut out, and while he tried to reach out to Slim multiple times, she never allowed him any chance to make amends. She had vowed never to forgive him for his actions, and sure enough, if they crossed paths, she would just ignore him rather than face him and reprimand him. Sometime later, Truman sent her the message: “Merry Christmas, Big Mama. I’ve decided to forgive you. Love, Truman.” Perhaps he’d hoped to get some response from her, but even then, she was unmoved.

Instead, Slim decided to sue Truman and talked to her lawyer about the ways to pursue legal action. While it may not have materialized into an actual lawsuit, it showed Truman how far gone things were and snubbed any hope of getting back with his friend again. Truman passed away in 1984, and Slim died in 1990 at the age of 72 due to lung cancer. He died without ever getting a chance to explain himself or have his friend express his anger towards him to his face. The feud between them followed them to their graves.

Read More: Truman Capote’s Ashes: What Happened to Them?