Liz Smith, the premiere gossip columnist of her generation, died in New York today. She was 94. Her death was first reported by the Associated Press, with confirmation from literary agent Joni Evans, who claimed she died of natural causes.
Smith’s self-titled column began in 1976 in the New York Daily News, was soon syndicated to scores of newspapers, reaching as many as 50 million readers daily. She later wrote for New York Newsday, then finished her career at the New York Post at age 86. She continued writing on her own web site and for others, but never again was the force she was in her heyday.
In a wistful New York Times story this summer, she admitted, “I am in search of Liz Smith. After a lifetime of fun and excitement and money and feeling important and being in the thick of it, I am just shocked every day that I’m not the same person. I think that happens to all old people. They’re searching for a glimmer of what they call their real self. They’re boring, mostly.”
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Smith arrived in New York and set out to climb the runs of success in rapid fashion. “I was just climbing and electrified all the time,” she said in the Times story. “Burning up with ambition. So I don’t want to judge other people too harshly that I see on television. They’re just climbing also. But I like to think that I had some talent.”
Actor Zachary Scott, an old friend from collegehelped her get a job at Modern Screen magazine.