Hollywood Hills News
Author Gore Vidal Dead At 86
By Ivetta Babadjanian
Aug 1, 2012 - 12:43:42 PM

HOLLYWOOD HILLSBest-selling author Gore Vidal died in his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday, July 31 around 6:45 p.m. at the age of 86. According to reports, his death was due to complications from pneumonia. He had been living alone at the time and was notably ill for quite a while.

Vidal is a well-known American author who wrote 24 novels, five plays and over 200 essays.
Vidal's novels include "Myra Breckenridge," "Burr," "1876" and "Lincoln." His novel "The City and the Pillar" was one of the first to have characters who were openly gay, but it turned out to be a critical and commercial failure. He also wrote a number of successful Broadway hits, Hollywood screenplays and television dramas.

Vidal was known for being blunt regarding those he did not appreciate. Many times he spoke poorly of various authors such as Truman Capote. He spoke ill towards a number of other figures, such as The New York Times, Robert F. Kennedy, William F. Buckley Jr., Norman Mailer, and the neoconservative writers Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter.

The author was allegedly very fond of alcohol and claimed he sampled every major drug once. In his memoir "Palimpsest," he claimed that by the age of 25 he had more than 1,000 sexual encounters with both men and women. He strongly disliked the terms "gay" and "straight" and stated that all human beings are born bi-sexual. He lived together with his companion, Howard Austen, for 53 years.

Vidal even dabbled in politics as the Congressional Democratic candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York in 1960 and campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate in 1982. He lost both times but noted that in 1960 in his district he received more votes than John F. Kennedy. His political views were evident in his published writings: he ridiculed the Kennedy's after a personal feud and, in recent years, criticized the Bush administration, claiming the president knew of the September 11 terrorist attacks beforehand and used it as a means for personal gain.

It was during the 1968 Democratic Convention that Vidal argued in favor of liberals as Buckley spoke for conservatives as part of ABC's news coverage. Vidal compared his opponent and his beliefs to that of fascism which Buckley responded with,
“Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered." Buckley had later filed liberal charges against Vidal, however, he ended up dropping the suit.

In order to introduce the dramas he wrote for live television beginning from the 1950's until the 1970's, Vidal would appear on screen making him a known figure on late-night talk shows. In 1978, he played himself for director and friend, Federico Fellini, in the film "Fellini Roma." He also was featured in the films "Bob Roberts (1992), “With Honors” (1994), “Conspiracy Theory” (1997) and “Gattaca” (1997).

Vidal was given numerous awards such as the National Book Award in 1993 for "United States: Essays, 1952-72." He was offered the opportunity to become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He initially declined the offer but eventually became a member in 1999.

The author "meant everything to me when I was learning how to write and learning how to read," said Dave Eggers, as he and Vidal received honorary citations during the 2009 National Book Awards ceremony. "His words, his intellect, his activism, his ability and willingness to always speak up and hold his government accountable, especially, has been so inspiring to me I can't articulate it."

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