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Writer Gore Vidal Dead at 86

The prolific novelist, playwright, and essayist passed away at his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday evening. According to his nephew, complications from pneumonia was the cause of death.

Gore Vidal made Los Angeles home in 2003, but his history with Hollywood is a long one. In 1948, the uproar over his homosexual coming-of-age novel The City and the Pillar saw Vidal blacklisted by the literary world.  For years Vidal was unable to get his work reviewed by critics, and to earn a living he began writing for film, television, and the stage.

The entertainment industry embraced what the literati had rejected, and Vidal enjoyed steady work. Two of his plays, “Visit to a Small Planet” — itself adapted from one of Vidal’s TV scripts — and “The Best Man,” enjoyed success on Broadway before being turned into films. His many screenwriting credits include Suddenly Last Summer with his friend Tennessee Williams, the sexually explicit commercial flop Caligula, and an uncredited stint as script doctor to Ben Hur.

In the 1960s, Vidal returned his focus to writing novels, but he kept his hand in the entertainment industry. From the New York Times:

Mr. Vidal was an occasional actor, appearing, for example, in animated form on “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” in the movie version of his own play “The Best Man,” and in the Tim Robbins movie “Bob Roberts,” in which he played an aging, epicene version of himself. He was a more than occasional guest on TV talk shows, where his poise, wit, looks and charm made him such a regular that Johnny Carson offered him a spot as a guest host of “The Tonight Show.”

Vidal will be buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next to Howard Austen, his companion of 53 years.

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