There’s a good feature in Vanity Fair about writer and high society gossipmonger Gore Vidal.
Read the whole piece here. It’s titled “The Gore They Loved,” and it’s by an old friend of Gore Vidal’s, Judy Balaban (who was, incidentally, a bridesmaid for Grace Kelly). It’s about Vidal’s friendships with women.
Gore Vidal was from high society himself, with a tough-guy father and a mother he calls the meanest woman in the world. His mother’s second husband was step-father to Jackie Kennedy. His father had a fling with Amelia Earhart. Vidal was friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. And Princess Margaret. And Joanne Woodward, Joan Collins, Susan Sarandon, Candice Bergen… the list goes on and on.
I recently read my first Gore Vidal book. I know, I know… I probably should have read something by him a lot sooner. I grew up seeing him as a guest on various television shows, and only understood that he was yet another East Coast celebrity. A sassy one. Turns out he boasted about his own intelligence for a reason. Although I saw many of his TV appearances, here are two I missed:
1. Vidal arguing with William F. Buckley in 1968, over U.S. involvment in Vietnam (as you can guess, Vidal thought, “it’s a mistake” and Buckley thought, “USA! USA! USA!”). These two fellows probably sparred regularly at cocktail parties — there’s a certain familiarity there as they call each other names. Vidal calls Buckley a crypto-nazi and Buckley calls Vidal a queer and threatens to smack him in the face:
2. Fast forward to The Simpsons, a show that reached intellectual heights for which Buckley could only hope, and where Gore Vidal had a guest shot:
Last summer I read Burr, his book about Vice President Aaron Burr. I thought it was great. Not so much because I was dazzled by the prose, but because while reading it you get the feeling, “this guy knows a lot.”
Read the Vanity Fair piece.
And see the Who2 biography of Gore Vidal.
(Photo of smiling Gore Vidal by WENN.)