Author, playwright and commentator Gore Vidal died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, said nephew Burr Steers. He was 86.
Vidal wrote 25 novels, including historical works such as “Lincoln” and “Burr” and satires such as “Myra Breckinridge” and “Duluth.” He was also a prolific essayist whose pieces on politics, sexuality, religion and literature.
He also wrote Broadway hits, screenplays, television dramas and a trio of mysteries under a pseudonym that remain in print after 50 years.
When he wasn’t writing, he was popping up in movies, playing himself in Fellini’s Roma, a sinister plotter in sci-fi thriller Gattaca and a U.S. senator in Bob Roberts. In 1976, Norman Lear wrote him into seven episodes of MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN's second season. In the story, Mary (Louise Lasser) had a nervous breakdown and Vidal came on as himself covering the story for a major national publication. He tried to convince Mary to let him write a book about her life.
Vidal made two entertaining but unsuccessful forays into politics, running for the Senate from California and Congress in New York, and established himself as a master of talk-show punditry who demolished intellectual rivals like Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley with acidic one-liners.
Starting at 2:40 in the clip below, Norman Lear talks about Vidal's appearances in MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN including a scene from the show.