Former New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith, who won her own A-list status with her witty chronicling of the glitterati, died of natural causes on Sunday, said her literary agent, Joni Evans. She was 94.
An affable blonde known for pealing laughter, Smith wrote a column that celebrated her famous friends, from Tom Hanks to Liza Minnelli to Madonna, and was read around the world for more than a quarter-century.
Despite her towering reputation, Smith held a lighthearted opinion of herself.
'We mustn’t take ourselves too seriously in this world of gossip,' she said in 1987. 'When you look at it realistically, what I do is pretty insignificant. Still, I’m having a lot of fun.'
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1923, Smith graduated from the University of Texas in 1949 with a degree in journalism and, a year later, moved to the Big Apple.
For nearly 30 years, Smith bounced from job to job - publicist for singer Kaye Ballard; assistant to Mike Wallace and 'Candid Camera' creator Allen Funt; ghostwriter for Igor Cassini’s Cholly Knickerbocker gossip column.
Smith ultimately wrote for nine New York newspapers and dozens of magazines, but it was a stint writing for Cosmopolitan that led to her big break.
While establishing herself as an authority on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Smith attracted the attention of the New York Daily News. She started her own column at the tabloid in 1976 - and a gossip star was born.
By the 1990s, she began a syndicated daily column that ran in Newsday and the New York Post.
The column, which was reprinted across the country and abroad, reportedly earned her more than $1 million a year.
Her scoops included Donald Trump’s 1990 split from first wife Ivana. Later, in The Post, she supported her celebrity friends, including backing Billy Bob Thornton after word got out that he and Angelina Jolie had gotten married and exchanged necklaces adorned with vials of each other’s blood.
Smith’s 2000 memoir, 'Natural Blonde,' in which she admitted she was bisexual despite having married two men, was a best-seller.
In an interview with the New York Times this past July, Smith revealed that she was having trouble moving after suffering a minor stroke.
'I can’t walk. I can’t talk as well as I used to, but I’m relatively healthy otherwise,' she explained.
'But everybody gives up something to be able to do a job, a demanding job,' she added. 'And being a reporter is a demanding, dangerous job. It may be glamorous or put you in harm’s way. I gave up being considered ethical and acceptable, for a while.'
From New York Post