HARRY BENSON never befriends his subjects. The legendary Scottish photojournalist -- who has shot everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Halle Berry -- knows better than to name-drop too. "I never say, 'I know so-and-so' because it's likely that the person you're shooting will hate so-and-so," he says, with a chortle.
Social snubs and prickly rivalries, no doubt, swirled through the ballroom at New York's Plaza Hotel in 1966 on the night Benson photographed Truman Capote's notorious Black & White Ball. Tallulah Bankhead insulted Norman Mailer, Lauren Bacall spurned eager dance partners, and the host himself tried to physically block the exit when Frank Sinatra and then-wife Mia Farrow departed at midnight.
Hours earlier, Benson, who was 36 at the time, caught the grand retinue of 500 masked guests, as they arrived, including, most memorably, Sinatra and Farrow. That image is now part of an exhibition of Benson's photography at the Pacific Design Center.
"To this day, that was the biggest party I ever shot," Benson recalls. "Capote's ball was unique. Everyone wanted to be there. People who weren't invited went out of town.