Thursday, February 24, 2011

"They don't make 'em like Babe Paley anymore..."

Being photographed for Vogue in 1946

On the cover of American Vogue, 1946. Photo by Horst P. Horst

(L-R) Gloria Guinness, Bill and Babe Paley  at Truman Capote's Black & White Ball in 1966.

the Paley Apartment - St Regis

Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley was a New York socialite, known for her impeccable dress sense and manners. She was working as a fashion editor for Vogue Magazine in New York City when she met and married her first husband, Standard Oil heir Stanley Mortimer, Jr. in 1940. The couple had two children but divorced a few years later. In 1947, Babe remarried to CBS founder William "Bill" S. Paley. The couple led a lavish life - Babe spent fortunes on her outfits, regularly buying haute couture ensembles from the major international fashion houses, and earned her place on the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1958. Before their famous falling out, long time friend Truman Capote once quoted "Babe Paley had only one fault. She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect."

Babe Paley died of lung cancer at the age of 63 on July 6, 1978 and is buried in a church cemetery in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. When her husband died in 1990, he was buried next to her.


  1. Every girl at Miss Porters knows Babe Paley and tries to be Babe Paley. Style the grace elegance, Capote was right she was perfect. Even after a horrible car crash her face was crushed, her father being a surgeon got her the best facial rreconstruction , but Babe always saw the change. Even after she was still beautiful if you look at photos earlier, she was a bit softer iin the face, but she was still beautiful. She bought clothes yes but Bill Paley was shall we say cheap. He wanted to break into society, he was jewish and was not excepted in the waspy social scene at that time, but Babe got him in that is what this beauty can do and as they have always done brought up men and took them down, Babe brought him up and he did appreciate it in the beginning but forgot when he was where none other had go before him . He did initially give her cart blanche, but in the end their marriage was so like many, mistresses, not enough love... she and Gloria Guiness had a lot in common they are both beautiful but died in my mind, died too young.

  2. I just finished reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue, an historical fictional account of Capote's relationship Paley, Keith, Guiness and the various other socialites he called "his swans." Excellent reading and gives an insight into the world of NY Society in 1960's. Babe Paley ruled her world like no one else before or after her.