Gore Vidal, 'Caligula' screenwriter, dies at age 86
Famous novelist and screenwriter Gore Vidal recently died at age 86.
He passed away at his home in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 31, from complications of pneumonia, The New York Times reported.
Vidal penned the screenplays for films such as the R-rated "Caligula," which was released in 1979 and stars Malcolm McDowell as the hedonistic Roman emperor, and the 1964 World War II-themed movie "Is Paris Burning?." He also co-wrote the script for the 1959 film "Ben-Hur" but is uncredited. He penned the Broadway play "The Best Man," which was made into a 1964 movie.
He had small parts in movies such as "Gattaca" in 1997 and "Igby Goes Down" in 2002. He portrayed himself on the animated shows "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy."
Vidal was born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal in West Point, New York in 1925 and had moved from Italy to Los Angeles in 2003 with his male life partner, Howard Austen, who was ill at the time. The two opted to settle in the Hollywood Hills due to its proximity to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a Beverly Hills hospital, The New York Times said. Austen died that year.
In his 1995 memoir, "Palimpsest," he talked about his personal life, saying that he had "calculated" that by the time he was 25, he had "had more than 1,000 sexual encounters" with both men and women.
Vidal also penned novels such as "Julian," "Messiah," "Lincoln," "Washington, D.C.," "Myra Breckinridge" and "Hollywood" and "The Golden Age." In addition to "The Best Man," he wrote numerous Broadway plays, such as "A Visit to a Small Planet," "Romulus" and "Weekend."
He also penned scripts for episodes of numerous television shows, beginning in the 1950s. His credits include programs such as "Suspense" and "Studio One in Hollywood." In 1986, he earned his first and only Emmy nomination - for his script for the NBC TV movie "Dress Gray."
Vidal often stirred controversy with his outspoken political views. He criticized former U.S. President George W. Bush, Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and maintained conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the war in Afghanistan.
In 1968, he called TV commentator William F. Buckley a "crypto-Nazi" during a heated argument as part of ABC's coverage of the democratic convention in Chicago. Buckley responded with an anti-gay slur and a threat to punch him in the face (watch the video here).
Vidal, an opponent of the death penalty, was also invited to attend the May 16, 2001 execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, with whom he had been in contact with for some two years prior, but was unable to go.
Vidal also tried to become more actively involved in politics - ran for Congress as a Democrat in New York state in 1960 and ran for Senate in California in 1982. He lost both elections.
In 2007, Vidal talked to CNN about his lengthy career and political views, saying: "I have had targets in my life. I have taken on general superstitions but that's what writers do."
He also said that when he died, he wanted to be cremated and laid to rest at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
"It's the most beautiful spot on the East Coast of the United States. There are 18th century trees growing there ... and all the early founders of that area, including the Gore family, my mother's family. And my friend Howard Austen is there and we share a plot. And I'll be there and I'll be looking forward to seeing him."