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Wednesday
Aug012012

Celebrity Novelist Gore Vidal Dead at 86

Charley Gallay/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Gore Vidal, one of America’s most famous celebrity novelists during the second half of the 20th century, passed away Tuesday of complications from pneumonia.  He was 86.

Vidal was nothing if not prolific. His best-known historic novels included Burr and Lincoln, but he also penned the sensational Myra Breckinridge about a transgender that was later made into a movie starring Raquel Welch in the title role.

His talents also went beyond books and essays, having written seven plays with one, 1960’s The Best Man, revived on Broadway this year and nominated for a Tony.  Vidal also crafted scripts for TV and movies that included a rewrite of the 1959 Oscar-winning film Ben-Hur, although he was uncredited for his work.

Incredibly erudite, Vidal could speak intelligently on virtually any topic but could also be obnoxious about his learnedness.  He and conservative commentator William F. Buckley nearly came to blows on TV while providing analysis of the 1968 Democratic National Convention for ABC News.

Talking about the cult of celebrity, Vidal told Entertainment Weekly in 2006, “To go around in a purple suit or something just to get attention -- that’s not my style. But you’ve got to amuse yourself somehow, you know?  And I find that being on TV is a lot more amusing than actually watching it.”

Freely admitting that he had hundreds of sexual relationships, Vidal spent most of his later years with longtime partner Howard Auster, who passed away in 2003.

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