Liz Smith, Friend of AKC, Dead at 94

Liz Smith, Friend of AKC, Dead at 94”

Her death was confirmed by her literary agent, Joni Evans, according to The New York Times.

But reporting and writing weren't her only callings.

"Liz Smith" was syndicated for years in 60 to 70 other newspapers, even as she appeared on television news and entertainment programs and wrote magazine articles and books. Famously, she was the first to report on Donald and Ivana Trump's divorce for the New York Daily News in 1990. She was as prominent as her legendary predecessors, Walter Winchell in NY and Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons in Hollywood. She knew the couple, who had previously invited her on trips. Nor, for the sake of a titillating item, did she seize upon ugly rumors or tasteless embarrassments.

On the contrary, Ms. Smith offered a kinder, gentler view of movie stars and moguls, politicians and society figures.

But back in her heyday, she held a trivial opinion of her beat - and had a ball. But she herself wasn't that high-minded about it. She never wanted her columns to be mean, and they were far removed from the sort of bloggy online snark of the gossip that came after her.

SHAFRIR: Like a lot of people in media, but probably especially for gossip columnists of her era, the line between friends and sources and subjects necessarily got very blurred.

She raised money for groups such as Literacy Volunteers, which teaches adults to read and write, to the Women's Action Alliance, which promotes full equality for women.

"It's a valid criticism, I suppose", Ms. Smith said in a 1991 interview with The New York Times. You know, looking through the keyhole at how your betters lived, I guess. I don't have to be pure, and I'm not.

LIMBONG: Liz Smith was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1923. Her father was a cotton broker whose gambling problems and fading income during the Great Depression forced the family to sell their home and move. And I tried to give her some motherly advice. I couldn't face that.

She leaves no immediate survivors.

After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Smith recalled buying a one-way ticket to NY in 1949 with a dream of being the next Walter Winchell. She took a series of jobs - at Modern Screen magazine, at Newsweek and as an assistant to Kaye Ballard, the actress and singer.

After a brief marriage while attending Hardin-Simmons University, Smith earned her journalism degree and headed off for NY with two suitcases and $50. In the 1960s, she was married for several years to Fred Lister, a travel agent. They had no children, and that marriage also ended in divorce. After ending her work on that column in the early 1960s she went to work for Helen Gurley Brown as the entertainment editor for the U.S. version of Cosmopolitan magazine, later also working as entertainment editor of Sports Illustrated. I said, 'Get yourself a PR person who's respectable and defend yourself against him.' " Smith says an angered Donald told her he would "buy the New York Daily News and order to fire me".

Liz Smith, famed columnist and UT alumna, once defined gossip as "news running ahead of itself in a red satin dress". In 2009, she started her own website,, as a slower, thinkier (ph) take on the news.

Though most know her as "The Grand Dame of the Dish" or "Doyenne of Dish", and an iconic and unparalleled gossip columnist since the 1970s, to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Liz Smith was quite simply a friend. But she had insider information on the likes of Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Elaine Stritch.

When her best-selling memoir Natural Blonde came out in 2000, reviewers criticized her for not including more intimate details of her relationships with women, particularly the archaeologist Iris Love.

But her work was praised. "My kind of journalism is over, done with".

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