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.