Historical Landscapes: The Hostess Wars

How two larger-than-life women battled it out over the punch bowls and buffet tables.

By Donna Evers

Gwen Cafritz greets Guatemalan Ambassador John Peurifoy and former Ambassador to Portugal Robert Guggenheim at her annual fall party marking the opening of the Supreme Court session. (Star Collection, D.C. Public Library; © Washington Post)

greets Guatemalan Ambassador and former Ambassador to Portugal at her annual fall party marking the opening of the Supreme Court session. (Star Collection, D.C. Public Library; © Washington Post)

Starting in the 1920s, the blue-blooded Mrs. Truxtun Beale, Mrs. , and Mrs. ruled Washington society like royalty for decades, carefully pruning their guest lists of anyone they deemed not “in society.” By the 1950s, however, the “Three B’s” had been eclipsed by two hyper-ambitious hostesses whose methods soon redefined entertaining in the nation’s capital.

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