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Liz Smith (journalist)

Liz Smith
LizSmithSept2011.jpg
Smith in September 2011
Born Mary Elizabeth Smith
(1923-02-02)February 2, 1923
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Died November 12, 2017(2017-11-12) (aged 94)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Other names The Grand Dame of Dish
Alma mater University of Texas
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1950–2017
Spouse(s) George Edward Beeman
(m. 1945; div. 1947)

Fred Lister
(m. 1957; div. 1962)

Mary Elizabeth Smith (February 2, 1923 – November 12, 2017) was an American gossip columnist. She was known as "The Grand Dame of Dish".[1] During her career, she wrote columns for the New York Daily News, The Washington Post, and Cosmopolitan. She worked exclusively with Fox Broadcasting Company with Roger Ailes. From 1995 to 2005, Smith worked with Newsday.

Early life

Mary Elizabeth Smith was born on February 2, 1923 in Fort Worth, Texas.[2] She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism in 1949, where she wrote for The Daily Texan and The Texas Ranger.[3]

Career

Smith later moved to New York City, where she worked as a typist, proofreader, and reporter before she broke into the media world as a news producer for Mike Wallace at CBS Radio.[4] She spent five years as a news producer for NBC-TV.[2] She also worked for Allen Funt on Candid Camera.[4]

In the late 1950s, Smith worked as a ghostwriter for the popular "Cholly Knickerbocker" gossip column that appeared in the Hearst newspapers.[5] After leaving that column in the early 1960s she went to work for Helen Gurley Brown as the entertainment editor for the American version of Cosmopolitan magazine, later working simultaneously as Sports Illustrated's entertainment editor as well.[4]

On February 16, 1976, Smith began a self-titled gossip column for the New York Daily News.[6] During a 1979 newspaper strike, her Daily News editors asked her to appear daily on WNBC-TV's Live at Five, and she stayed with the program for eleven years.[1] Her exposure on television made Smith a popular figure on the Manhattan social scene and provided fodder for her column, which had, by then, been syndicated to nearly seventy newspapers.[5] She won an Emmy for her reporting on Live at Five for WNBC in 1985.[7]

Smith was hired by Fox Broadcasting Company heads Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch to develop a talk show, with Roger Ailes as her producer.[8]

Smith was once reportedly the highest-paid print journalist in the United States.[9] In 1991, shortly after her exclusive interviews with Ivana Trump at the time of her divorce from real-estate tycoon Donald Trump, Smith moved to Newsday, where she stayed until 1995.[1] Smith then signed on to the Murdoch-owned New York Post.[8] She worked for Fox News for seven years and was last on Fox & Friends.[8] She was the only columnist to ever have her column printed in three major New York City papers at the same time.[6]

In April 2005, Smith left Newsday, over a contract dispute.[10] The official discontinuation of her column came after several months of dispute among Smith, her lawyer David Blasband, and Newsday management.[6] The matter was settled out of court and Smith continued at the New York Post and the Staten Island Advance, where her column still appeared.[4]

On February 24, 2009, the Post announced that the paper would stop running Smith's column effective February 26, 2009, as a cost-cutting measure.[11]

Smith, along with Lesley Stahl, Mary Wells Lawrence, and Joni Evans, was a founding member of wowOwow.com, a website for women to talk culture, politics, and gossip.[5]

Personal life

Smith married her college sweetheart, World War II bombardier George Edward Beeman, in 1945. She soon left him to enroll at the University of Texas, where her papers and memorabilia are kept in the Dolph Briscoe Center,[12] and they divorced two years later.[12] In 1957, she married Fred Lister, but the couple would divorce in 1962.[5]

Smith acknowledged her bisexuality (or as she referred to it, "gender neutrality") in her memoirs, but in the December 5, 2000 issue of The Advocate, she dug deeper and confided in Editor in Chief Judy Wieder that it was not in her nature to be a role model in the LGBT movement.[2] However, she admitted, "I think that my relationships with women were always much more emotionally satisfying and comfortable [than with men]. And a lot of my relationships with men were more flirtatious and adversarial. I just never felt I was wife material. I always felt that I was a great girlfriend."[13]

Smith was a good friend of Texas Governor Ann Richards, and helped her to acculturate to New York City society after leaving Texas. Smith was also good friends with Texan pundit and writer Molly Ivins, also a friend of Richards.[1]

Smith raised millions of dollars for charities, $6 million for Literacy Partners, millions for AMFAR, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, PAL, and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.[1]

Death

On November 12, 2017, Smith died at her home in Manhattan, New York of natural causes at the age of 94.[1][2]

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f McFadden, Robert D. (November 12, 2017). "Liz Smith, Longtime Queen of Tabloid Gossip Columns, Dies at 94". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Famed NY gossip columnist Liz Smith Dies at 94". CNN. November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  3. ^ Holland, Richard A. The Texas Book: Profiles, History, and Reminiscences of the University (University of Texas Press, 2006), pp. 223–299.
  4. ^ a b c d "Liz Smith, Premier Gossip Columnist, Dies at 94". Variety. November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Liz Smith Dead: Legendary Gossip Columnist Was 94". The Hollywood Reporter. November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c "Liz Smith, legendary celebrity gossip columnist who lamented loss of glamour, dies at 94". USA Today. November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  7. ^ 29th Annual New York Emmy® Awards
  8. ^ a b c "Liz Smith Dead at 94: celebrities react". Fox News. November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  9. ^ Leland, John (2017-07-30). "Life Among the Boldface Names". The New York Times. p. MB1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-28. 
  10. ^ Ives, Nat (April 1, 2005). "Liz Smith Out of Newsday, Saying She Won't Take 95% Pay Cut". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017. 
  11. ^ NY Post Cuts Longtime Gossip Maven Liz Smith Yahoo News, February 24, 2009
  12. ^ a b "Liz Smith, gossip columnist who dished on the boldfaced-name set, dies at 94". The Washington Post. November 12, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  13. ^ Wieder, Judy (2001). Celebrity: The Advocate Interviews. New York: Advocate Books. p. 138. ISBN 1-55583-722-0. 

External links