Writer Gore Vidal Dies at 86

The prolific and prodigious writer Gore Vidal has died at the age of 86. Vidal contributed a wide range of texts to the American literary canon, from novels like "The City and the Pillar" and "Myra Breckinridge" to memoirs such as "Palimpsest," an entire series of historical novels called "Narratives of Empires" and collections of revered essays.

Vidal was, at one time, a writer for MGM Studios, and his original screenplay for "Caligula" was later reworked to make it, let's say, a little sexier for director Tinto Brass producer and "Penthouse" publisher Bob Guccione. His famous novel "Myra Breckinridge" was turned into a movie with Raquel Welch in the title role. Vidal's screenplays include an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play "Suddenly, Last Summer," starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift, as well as the screenplay for "I Accuse!" and "The Catered Affair." Many more films were based on his plays, like the strange sci-fi comedy film "Visit to a Small Planet" with Jerry Lewis and the Paul Newman Western "The Left Handed Gun." Even more of his plays were turned into films or TV shows, like the famous mini-series "Lincoln."

The writer also appeared as himself onscreen in documentaries and even in small roles in "Bob Roberts," "With Honors," "Gattaca" and "Igby Goes Down." He also appeared as himself on "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons."

Vidal was also a great contributor to other forms of media. His appearances on TV were unforgettable; William F. Buckley and Vidal got into a war of the words during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and he also got into a memorable argument with Normal Mailer in the green room before and during the Dick Cavett Show. The former involved Vidal called Buckley a "cryptofascist" and Buckley responding by calling him a "queer," while Mailer head-butted Vidal in response to Vidal's comparison of the author to Charles Manson in an essay.

Vidal died from complications of pneumonia at his home in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles.