Liz Smith, the syndicated gossip columnist whose mixture of banter, barbs, and bons mots about the glitterati helped her climb the A-list as high as many of the celebrities she covered, died Sunday at 94.
Joni Evans, Smith's literary agent, told The Associated Press she died of natural causes.
For more than a quarter-century, Smith's column, “Liz Smith,” was one of the most widely read in the world. The column's success was due in part to Smith's own celebrity status, giving her an insider's access rather than relying on tipsters, press releases and publicists.
With a big smile and her sweet Southern manner, the Texas native endeared herself to many celebrities and scored major tabloid scoops, including Donald and Ivana Trump's divorce and Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's impending parenthood.
Smith succeeded with kindness and an aversion to cheap shots. Whether reporting on entertainers, politicians or power brokers, the “Dame of Dish” never bothered with unfounded rumors, sexual preferences or who's-sleeping-with-whom.
“When she escorts us into the private lives of popular culture's gods and monsters, it's with a spirit of wonder, not meanness,” wrote Jane and Michael Stern in reviewing Smith's 2000 autobiography, “Natural Blonde,” for the New York Times Book Review.