Famed Gossip Columnist Liz Smith Dies at Age 94

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Liz Smith during Liz Smith at Cosmopitan – January 1, 1970 at Cosmopitan Magazine Office in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Known as the “Queen of New York Tabloids”  and “The Grand Dame of Dish,” gossip columnist and write Liz Smith made a career reporting on the lives and lifestyles of the rich and famous. Smith began her career in the 1950’s working for Mike Wallace before writing the Cholly Knickerbocker column for Hearst Magazines. By the 1980’s, she had become the most powerful and celebrated tabloid writer living a life much like the people she dished on.

Smith grew up listening to Walter Winchell radio broadcasts and longed for “the glamour and the excitement of New York”  for herself, she once said. In the late 40’s, she moved to NYC with only $50 dollars and no contacts in the publishing world finding her first job by looking in the phone book.

Since, Smith has written about everyone from Donald Trump to Madonna. If Elizabeth Taylor sneezed in France, Smith not only knew about it, she could tell you the time, what she was wearing, who was there and what triggered said sneeze; Smith was just that good. In 1976, she began her self-titled column that ran through 2009 and was syndicated in over 70 magazines and newspapers.

Liz Smith poses with Bette Midler. Image courtesy of The Austrailian.

Smith published her own memoir in 2001 where she came out as a bisexual woman telling The Advocate, “I think that my relationships with women were always much more emotionally satisfying and comfortable.”

Smith suffered a stroke in July; she died at her home in Manhattan at the age of 94.

Gossip columnist Liz Smith, Donald Trump and ex-wife Ivana Trump attend 1001 Nights together at the Big Apple Circus in November, 1987, in New York.


Watch never-before-seen video from The New York Times‘ last interview with Liz Smith:


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Aisha K. Staggers has been writing since middle school. She had her first major publication in her local newspaper's entertainment section while a sophomore in high school, a publication in another state paper followed. Aisha has been contributing to various paper, magazines and textbooks for over 15 years. In addition to her time as an instructor of social sciences in higher education, Aisha has served as a director of education and policy research centers, and on the staff of legislative commissions. Aisha previously served on the Executive Board of the CT Young Democrats Women's Caucus and has remained active in politics and public policy. She is an alumni of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT and Fisk University in Nashville, TN where she earned Bachelor's and Master's Degrees, respectively, and completed the South Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program in 2008. Currently, Aisha is Senior Editor for BookTrib, a division of the literary public relations firm, Meryl Moss Media. In addition to her own work, Aisha will be writing the liner notes for an upcoming Prince tribute album and contributing a chapter to a 2018 scholarly work on Prince and the Minneapolis Sound.

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