Friday, August 3, 2012
Remembering Gore Vidal 1925 - 2012
I will always remember Gore Vidal, who died Tuesday at age 86, for three things:
Myra Breckinridge, his 1968 novel about a transsexual which was later made into a campy cult film in 1971 starring Raquel Welch, Mae West, Farrah Fawcett and Rex Reed (I like the book - and the movie is a guilty pleasure).
And his appearance as himself on Norman Lear's TV series, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, in 1976. He came to Fernwood, Ohio, to interview Mary for a book he wanted to write about her life.
Vidal wrote many other books, including The City and the Pillar (1948), Myron (1974) and Lincoln (1984), as well as the screenplays for The Catered Affair (1956) starring Bette Davis and Debbie Reynolds, Ben-Hur (1959) - he was one of four uncredited screenwriters - Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift, and the 1986 TV miniseries, Dress Gray, starring Alec Baldwin (for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or a Special). He also wrote the Broadway plays, Visit to a Small Planet (1957), The Best Man (1960), Weekend (1968) and An Evening with Richard Nixon (1972), and he appeared in the films, Bob Roberts (1992), With Honors (1994), Gattaca (1997), Igby Goes Down (2001) - which was directed by his nephew Burr Steers - and Shrink (2009). As for his personal life, Vidal was briefly engaged to actress Joanne Woodward before she married Paul Newman - and he met his long-term partner Howard Austen in 1950 (they were together until Austen's death in 2003).
Below you can watch Vidal on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and a 1970 episode of The Merv Griffin Show as well as the infamous 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show with guests Janet Flanner (a writer for The New Yorker magazine) and a drunken Norman Mailer, whose 1971 book, The Prisoner of Sex, received a bad review by Vidal.