Liz Smith, the legendary New York gossip writer, died of natural causes in New York Sunday.
She was 94.
Known as the “Grand Dame of Dish,” Smith graduated from the University of Texas and moved to New York with two suitcases and $ 50 in her pocket.
She began her journalism career as a CBS Radio news producer for Mike Wallace before starting as a ghostwriter for the Hearst gossip column Cholly Knickerbocker in the late 1950s.
Smith moved on to work for Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated in the ‘60s, then began a self-titled column at the New York Daily News in 1976.
Former Daily News gossip columnist Liz Smith died Sunday.
Eventually, her column became syndicated in almost 70 newspapers as she made famous friends from Elizabeth Taylor to Marlon Brando.
Among her most famous work was covering the high-profile divorce between then-real estate mogul Donald Trump and wife Ivana. She spent three months covering the public split, during which she openly sided with Ivana.
“She still wants to be his wife. But the bottom line is, she won’t give up her self-respect to do it,” Smith wrote at the time.
“Intimates say she had every chance to continue being Mrs. Trump by allowing her husband to live in an open marriage.”
Liz Smith Dies at 94
Trump once offered to buy The News just to fire Smith, the New York Times reported earlier this year.
Her “Live at Five” show on WNBC lasted 11 years, during which she won an Emmy for reporting in 1985.
After leaving The News in 1991, Smith jumped to several local newspapers, including Newsday and the New York Post.
In her 2000 memoir “Natural Blonde,” Smith, who had been married twice before to her college sweetheart Ed Beeman and travel agent Freddie Lister, came out as bisexual, which she called “gender neutrality.”
Liz Smith (lt.), shown with Richard Nixon and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, was 94.
(Richard Corkery / New York Daily News)
“I think that my relationships with women were always much more emotionally satisfying and comfortable (than with men),” she told The Advocate that year.
“And a lot of my relationships with men were more flirtatious and adversarial. I just never felt I was wife material. I always felt that I was a great girlfriend.”
For all of her scoops and speculation, Smith said she never forgot what she was doing.
“We mustn’t take ourselves too seriously in this world of gossip,” Smith told the Associated Press in 1987.
“When you look at it realistically, what I do is pretty insignificant. Still, I’m having a lot of fun.”
Smith is survived by several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held for her in the spring.
“I was fortunate enough to work with the amazing Liz Smith,” tweeted Al Roker. “During my time at WNBC she was nothing short fabulous. Liz passed away at the age of 94 and with her, a piece New York.”
“Loved Liz Smith. Smart and funny. Gossip from the High Road,” wrote Rob Lowe.
“Liz Smith was the definition of a lady,” tweeted James Woods. “She dished, but always found a way to make it entertaining and fun.”
“Liz Smith was such a force & great, great lady,” wrote Betty Buckley.