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