Liz Smith, New York’s Grande Dame of Gossip, Dies at 94

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Liz Smith, the Grande Dame of Hollywood and political gossip  whose newspaper column emanating from New York satisfied readers’ joy for  gossip about the rich and famous for more than three decades, has died. She was 94.

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Smith’s column at one point was syndicated in about 75 papers around the world and read by as many as 50 million people each day.

 

Literary agent Joni Evans told The Associated Press she died in New York on Sunday of natural causes.

 

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, who arrived in Manhattan by train in 1949, Smith once famously defined gossip as “news running ahead of itself in a red satin dress.”

 

She began her self-titled gossip column at the New York Daily News on Feb. 16, 1976, and enjoyed immense reader loyalty.

 

After writing for New York Newsday from 1991-95, she was lured to the New York Post, where she remained until the paper unceremoniously pink-slipped her in 2009 when she was 86. At one point, she had been earning $1 million a year.

 

 

Smith was born in Fort Worth on Feb. 2, 1923. She married her college sweetheart, George Edward Beeman, in 1944, but they divorced three years later. “I married a guy I really cared about,” she said, “a strong, silent type, 6 [foot] 4. But he wanted to be a rancher in Texas, and I wanted to get out of there. … It was sad, but I was desperate to get to New York.”

 

She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949 with a degree in journalism and bought a one-way ticket to the Big Apple a few months later. “I didn’t have any money, so it wasn’t terribly glamorous,” she said. “I only had $50 when my train rolled into Penn Station. But I found some friends of mine who had graduated earlier, and they showed me the ropes.”

 

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  AP
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