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The True Story of Babe Paley's Death

babe paley
The True Story of Babe Paley's DeathKeystone - Getty Images

Spoilers ahead for Feud: Capote vs. the Swans episode 7

In the penultimate episode of Feud: Capote vs. the Swans, the two characters at the heart of the series, Truman Capote (Tom Hollander) and Babe Paley (Naomi Watts), both pass away. The episode begins with Babe's death, then her funeral (which Truman was not invited to), and finally Truman's decline and death.

In real life, Barbara "Babe" Paley passed away on July 6, 1978, at the age of 63. She died in her New York City apartment, four years after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time of her death, she was survived by her husband, Bill, their son, William, and daughter, Kate, in addition to Babe's son and daughter from her first marriage, Stanley and Amanda, and Babe's three siblings. Her funeral was held at Christ Episcopal Church in Manhasset, Long Island.

As Carol Prisant, who was an au pair for the Paleys one summer, wrote in Town & Country's December 2010 issue, "For not only was Babe patrician in looks and dress, she walked and spoke like a queen and almost never raised her voice. She’d been schooled to all this, naturally, but she did it so well. She had the wonderful manners of royalty. She knew to inquire after the housekeeper’s children, always remembering their names. She knew about going to the kitchen to compliment the cook. She did her correspondence every morning and wouldn’t eat or smoke without first offering whatever it was to her guests."

As Capote famously commented, Babe "had only one fault. She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect."


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