Truman Capote's Swans, including Jackie Kennedy's sister, to be the focus of Ryan Murphy's new series - what we know so far and a guide to the Swans

Ryan Murphy’s second season of Feud will focus on the high society queens known as Truman Capote’s Swans

Truman Capote's Swans included Lee Radziwill, and will be the focus of Ryan Murphy's new show
(Image credit: Bettmann/Getty)

After season one of Feud, which focused on Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and their well-known hatred for one another, you might think Ryan Murphy couldn’t possibly top that level of glamour, fashion and stardom.

Well, the only way he can outdo a series following two true icons of Old Hollywood is to shift the focus to the other side of the country, to the time when the East Coast was ruled by high society doyennes, fabulous balls and inimitable galas.

New York in the 1950s and 60s was ruled by women in the upper echelons of society. From Babe Paley to Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister and a muse to fashion icons like Givenchy, this cast of characters oversaw one of the chicest chapters in American history, a time of great fashion, art and wealth.

Truman Capote was known for hosting an elegant Black and White ball

(Image credit: Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Most of the women at the top of society acted as both friend and inspiration to legendary author Truman Capote, whose books include classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood.

Capote liked to call these women his swans – and they certainly glided around New York with the regal, untouchable quality of the majestic birds.

However, Capote found out the hard way that swans can also be vicious creatures.

After suffering from writer's block for a few years, Capote eventually began work on Answered Prayers, a novel the New York Times reports he claimed was “a large novel, my magnum opus, a book about which I must be very silent, so as not [to] alarm my ‘sitters.’”

Truman Capote and Marilyn Monroe

(Image credit: Bettmann/Getty)

The book, as it would turn out, would be the opposite. A thinly disguised expose or roman a clef of his swans, the novel both betrayed their trust and, in some cases, lampooned their lives.

The worst casualty was Ann Woodward, a socialist accused of murdering her husband. Capote clearly used her story in the novel, and Ann would commit suicide days before its publication.

Capote never even finished the book, and it was never released. Short extracts were serialized in Esquire magazine, but these were enough to see him shunned by society, abandoned by his swans.

Who were Capote’s Swans?

With an idea of what the season will focus on, let’s look at the characters who are likely to appear. From Jackie O’s sister to the heiress dubbed the Queen of New York, here are a selection of Swans.

Babe Paley 

Babe Paley

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Babe Paley will definitely appear in the series as she has already been cast. Oscar nominated star of The Impossible and Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts has been cast to appear as Barbra ‘Babe’ Paley, the wife of former CBS chair William S. Paley.

Unfathomably rich and well-connected, Babe and William were often thought of as the King and Queen of New York society.

Naomi Watts has been cast in Ryan Murphy's new show

(Image credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Babe, a former Vogue staffer, was known for her faultless style.

She was a member of the Fashion Hall of Fame after appearing on the International Best Dressed List 14 times and was a noted couture client.

Slim Keith

Slim Keith

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Slim Keith was best known as an actress during the 1950s and 1960s, before transitioning to a powerful role in high society.

Introduced to media tycoon William Randolph Hearst by actor William Powell, Slim Keith became one of the first socialites and overnight sensations.

She had a series of high profile and advantageous marriages, notably with director Howard Hawks and Kenneth Keith, gaining her the title of Lady Keith. She was also pursued by both Clarke Gable and Ernest Hemingway.

Some also credit Slim for discovering actress Lauren Bacall, after she insisted her first husband, director Howard Hawks, give her a screentest after seeing a modelling shot. 

Lee Radziwill

Lee Radziwill

(Image credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Known to some simply as Jackie Kennedy’s little sister, others have said Lee Radziwill was the true star in the family.

A favorite to everyone from Andre Leon Talley and Givenchy, Lee proved to be a muse to people across all walks of life.

A friend to Giorgio Armani, an inspiration to ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev and a muse to Andy Warhol, Lee was one of the undisputed darlings of high society.

CZ Guest

CZ Guest

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A celebrated cover girl, fashionista and actress, CZ (born Lucy Douglas but who became known as CZ after her brother called her Cissy) married a relative of Winston Churchill.

Ann Woodward

Ann and William Woodward

(Image credit: Bettmann/Getty)

A socialite and showgirl, Ann Woodward became best known for the scandalous situation surrounding her husband’s death.

Ann shot her husband, banking heir William Woodward Jr. in 1955, claiming that she had mistaken him for a burglar.

She was never convicted of a crime, but society chatter around the incident caused her to be something of an outcast.

Capote published excerpts from his unfinished novel which many thought accused Ann of murdering her husband. Just before the stories were to be published in Esquire, she killed herself by taking cyanide.

When is Feud: Capote’s Swans release date?

While no release date is known yet, filming is set to begin in New York City during fall 2022.

Gus Van Sant, known for Good Will Hunting and My Own Private Idaho, and will direct the series.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.