Liz Smith, known as "the Grand Dame of Dish" or "the Doyenne of Dish" and one of the most prominent gossip columnists in the country for decades, has died in NY from natural causes. But Ephron, who was indeed gravely ill, did not die until a few hours later and an impending tragedy that Ephron had tried to keep secret became known to the world.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas during prohibition, Smith graduated from the University of Texas in 1949 with a degree in journalism and, a year after, moved to the Big Apple. She had the experience, having ghostwritten the Cholly Knickerbocker column for the Hearst newspapers in the '50s, which led to her extensive contacts in the world of entertainment.
Following a long career in magazine publishing at Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated, on the popular series "Candid Camera" and in TV news (she produced Mike Wallace at one time), Smith launched her first gossip column in the New York Daily News in 1976.
Smith arrived in NY in 1949 with no job and $50 in her pocket.
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Smith ultimately wrote for nine NY newspapers and dozens of magazines, but it was a stint writing for Cosmopolitan that led to her break.
Smith was once reportedly the highest-paid print journalist in the United States, according to theNew York Times. While establishing herself as an authority on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Smith attracted the attention of the New York Daily News. She dished, but always found a way to make it entertaining and fun. Once part of News Corp., she naturally made appearances on the Fox News Channel. Her column was syndicated nationwide, drawing millions of readers. "During my time at WNBC she was nothing short fabulous".
Smith raised millions of dollars for charities, including $6 million for Literacy Partners, millions for AIDS charity AmFAR, as well as money for the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Smith authored several books, including Natural Blonde, which went on to become a best seller. A memorial service will be held to honor her this spring.
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