Famed New York Gossip Columnist Liz Smith Dead at 94

Famed New York Gossip Columnist Liz Smith Dead at 94

Famed New York Gossip Columnist Liz Smith Dead at 94

Liz Smith, the syndicated gossip columnist whose mixture of banter, barbs, and bon mots about the glitterati helped her climb the A-list as high as numerous celebrities she covered, died Sunday at the age of 94.

Smith's literary agent Joni Evans confirmed Smith died of natural causes Sunday.

Smith was a NY legend who developed and defined the job of the gossip columnist as well as the celebrity journalist.

But it was her sharp writing at Cosmopolitan - namely the salacious details of the romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - that led to her break at the Daily News.

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During that time, Smith migrated from the News to the rival New York Post and finally to Newsday, ultimately earning salaries well into six figures. "It used to mean - bylines used to mean something in journalism, [but] most people have forgotten about so-called powerful people like me; we served our time".

After a brief marriage while attending Hardin-Simmons University, Smith earned her journalism degree and headed off for NY with two suitcases and $50. During a newspaper strike in 1979, she was asked to appear on WNBC's Live at Five, where she became a regular three nights a week for 11 years.

An affable blonde known for her peeling laughter, Smith took a job as a news producer for Mike Wallace at CBS Radio but found her true calling while ghostwriting for the gossip column, "Cholly Knickerbocker". She once said their friendship "really helped make my career" and that "it didn't do them any harm, either".

Al Roker tweeted about having worked with her.

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Smith raised millions of dollars for charities, including $6 million for Literacy Partners, millions for AIDS charity AmFAR, as well as money for the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Her reporting on Donald and Ivana Trump's divorce made front-page news.

Smith was married and divorced twice to George Beeman from 1945-47, and to Fred Lister from 1957-62, but acknowledged her bisexuality in a roundabout way in her memoirs, dubbing it "gender neutrality".

As news spread about her death, the stars she covered for so many years began to react.

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