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Capote vs. The Swans: the scandalous stories of the real women played by Demi Moore, Calista Flockhart, more

Ryan Murphy's Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, premieres on FX January 31

The poster for "Feud: Capote vs The Swans"
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
Online News WriterNew York
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New York City history fanatics and beyond are rejoicing that Ryan Murphy's highly-anticipated show, Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, is finally premiering on FX January 31 at 10pm EST, and streaming on Hulu the following day.

The eight-episode limited series is based on Laurence Leamer's 2021 book Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song, which itself tells the story of famed literary giant Truman Capote (In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's), and his tumultuous relationship with New York society, particularly that of the select socialites he befriended, and later betrayed.

It features a stacked cast – Demi Moore, Calista Flockhart, Molly Ringwald, Naomi Watts, Diane Lane and Chloë Sevigny – who star as the iconic "Swans" Capote used to hoist himself into the upper echelons of 1960s high-society, and later as inspiration for his scandalous, unfinished novel Answered Prayers, which effectively expelled him from the elite circle he'd co-opted. Below, take a look at the real-life women the six A-Listers transformed themselves into.

Lee Radziwill attends Museum of Modern Art Spring Benefit on May 21, 1973 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City© Getty
Lee Radziwill in 1973

Calista Flockhart as Lee Radziwill

Lee Radziwill (1933-2019) was the younger sister of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and like the former First Lady, she too was considered to be among the world's chicest women. Born Caroline Lee Bouvier, her last name comes from her second husband, Stanisław Albrecht "Stash" Radziwiłł, a Polish aristocrat.

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Beyond her role as a leading arbiter of New York society, she briefly dabbled in acting, and worked as both an interior decorator and public relations executive. She passed away aged 85 in her Upper East Side apartment in 2019.

Babe Paley, of New York, wife of the head of the Columbia Broadcasting company, headed the list of the World's best-dressed women announced today by the New York Dress Institute, which has conducted the International Polls Since 1940© Getty
Babe Paley in 1953

Naomi Watts as Babe Paley

Capote once reportedly said of Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley (1915-1978): "Babe Paley had only one fault. She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect." The epitome of a trendsetter, at 23 she was a fashion editor at Vogue, and three years later, in 1941, she was declared by Time the world's second best dressed woman, coming second to Wallis Simpson.

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Her last name Paley comes from her second husband, William S. Paley, who is best known for transforming the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) from a small radio network into the media giant that it is today. Babe died from lung cancer a day after her 63rd birthday in 1978; having been diagnosed in 1974, she meticulously planned her own funeral, including the food and wine for the luncheon.

Ann Woodward in 1941© Getty
Ann Woodward in 1941

Demi Moore as Ann Woodward

Ann Eden Woodward (1915-1975) was more-so a wannabe Capote Swan, and her legacy is marred by controversy and scandal. Born Evangeline Crowell, she reinvented herself as Ann Eden when she moved to New York City in 1941 and became a showgirl and Powers model. Two years later, she married William Woodward Jr., heir to the Hanover National Bank fortune.

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In 1955, she was at the center of what was coined "The Shooting of the Century," after she shot and killed her husband, then 35, having mistaken him for a burglar entering their Oyster Bay home. Though she was cleared as a suspect by a grand jury, she vanished from high-society over ongoing gossip that the shooting was intentional. Ann took her own life in 1975 shortly after the quasi-release of Capote's infamous novel Answered Prayers, which was (unflatteringly) based on some of the Swans.

Theatrical producer Leland Hayward and beautiful Nancy Gross (Slim) Hawks, one of the 10 best dressed women in the world are shown at a recent appearance in the Stork Club, 1949© Getty
Slim Keith and Leland Hayward in 1949

Diane Lane as Slim Keith

Nancy "Slim" Keith (1917-1990) was born Mary Raye Gross in California, and by age 22, had already appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar. She ran in elite social circles from as early as 16, and established herself as a Hollywood socialite through both romantic and social connections with William Randolph Hearst, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Ernest Hemingway, among others.

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She was married thrice, to Howard Hawks (from 1941 to 1949), Leland Hayward (1949-1960), and to Baron Keith of Castleacre Kenneth Keith (1962-1972). She ended her friendship with Capote over his thinly veiled use of her as the inspiration for one of his Answered Prayers characters. She died aged 72 in 1990 of lung cancer.

C.Z. Guest holding poodle poolside in New York, 1962© Getty
C.Z. Guest in 1962

Chloë Sevigny as C.Z. Guest

Lucy Douglas Cochrane (1920-2003) dedicated herself not only to New York society, but also to horseback riding, interior decorating, horticulture, fashion design, and writing. Following a debilitating horse riding accident in 1976, she helmed a column on gardening for the New York Post, and later wrote a book, First Garden, illustrated by the legendary Cecil Beaton.

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In 1947, she married Winston Frederick Churchill Guest – a relative of Winston Churchill with long ties to British aristocracy – at the famed Havana residence of Hemingway, who was the best man. She died aged 83 in 2003.

Joanne Carson (née Copeland) is photographed on the set of the CBS television quiz and audience participation show, "Video Village." Image dated: June 9, 1960, New York, NY© Getty
Joanne Carson in 1960

Molly Ringwald as Joanne Carson

Born Joanne Copeland (1931-2015), she was a close confidante of Capote's – he had a writing room to himself in her home – and the ex-wife of legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. She was a stewardess for Pan American World Airways when she met the late TV veteran in 1960, and they married in  1963, one year after he began his three-decade tenure on the Tonight Show. 

The pair divorced in 1972, and she went on to host her own health and fitness talk show, Joanne Carson's V.I.P.'s, as well as earn a master's degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and physiology. She passed away aged 83 in 2015.

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