April in Paris Ball was an annual US gala event whose mission was to serve charity and Franco-American relations. Established in 1952 at the Waldorf Astoria New York in New York City, it was the idea of Claude Philippe, the hotel’s banquet manager, who enlisted Elsa Maxwell to help organize it.
The first event was a celebration of the 2,000th birthday of the city of Paris and was held in 1951. When it was decided to make the ball an annual event, the name was changed to the April in Paris Ball.
The 1957 event, attended by Marilyn Monroe and her husband Arthur Miller, Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, included 1300 guests, who paid $100 each and donated $130,000 to charities; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor attended as well.
The Duchess and Elsa Maxwell had reportedly had a major falling out at another ball four years earlier and sat far apart from each other and didn’t speak even when they were in the elevator together. The Duke and Duchess were the guests of honor and were seated at the most visible table in the ballroom. One article in The Times Standard even claimed that Maxwell had invited Monroe to the ball to publicly embarrass the Duchess; when Monroe arrived more than 30 photographer abandoned her to photograph Monroe. After the ball, a wealthy New York broker offered to donate $50,000 to charity if Maxwell and the Duchess would abandon their feud and shake hands in front of press photographers. Maxwell was most willing to end the quarrel in this way, but the Duchess declined the offer.