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Who was Babe Paley, Halston’s ‘perfect’ socialite and fashionista?

Bruno Cooke May 17, 2021
babe paley halston
Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Episode 1 of new Netflix five-part miniseries, Halston, introduces audiences to American socialite and 1975 “Super-Dresser of our Time” Babe Paley. So, who was Babe Paley, and who plays her in Halston?

Who was Halston’s Babe Paley?

Born 1915, Barbara “Babe” Cushing Mortimer Paley was a socialite and fashionista.

Her parents were Harvey Cushing, a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Yale universities, and Katherine Stone.

Paley grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, and became known, together with her sisters, as the “fabulous Cushing sisters”.

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About Last Night | Season 1 Official Trailer | Studiocanal International

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Paley and fashion

Babe worked as a fashion editor for Vogue in New York City, starting in 1938. By 1941, Time magazine had voted her the world’s second best dressed woman.

Meanwhile, Truman Capote said Babe Paley had “only one fault”, which was that she was perfect. 

“Otherwise”, he said, “she was perfect.”

She joined the International Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1958, and 17 years later earned the title of Super-Dresser of our Time (see below).

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Babe Paley and Halston: Their relationship explored

Babe Paley soon came into contact with fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, the subject of new Netflix miniseries Halston.

The series also explores Halston’s relationships with Andy Warhol and Estelle Marsh.

The relationship between Babe Paley and Halston is explored in just one episode of the miniseries.

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Who plays Babe Paley in Halston?

American actress Regina Schneider portrays Babe Paley in the 2021 series. 

Schneider’s previous credits include episodes of Frasier, The Agency, Rescue Me, The Blacklist and, in 2020, God Friended Me.

At present, she has just one feature film credit, which is the move Heights (2005), starring Glenn Close and Elizabeth Banks.

But she is not alone in portraying Babe Paley.

Others who have played the fashionista include Sigourney Weaver (in Infamous, 2006), Michelle Harrison (in Capote, 2005) and Joan Severance (Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story, 1998).

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.