Eugene Luther Gore Vidal
|Also Known As:||"Eugene Louis Vidal", "Eugene Luther Vidal"|
|Birthplace:||West Point, Orange County, New York, United States|
|Death:||Died in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States|
|Cause of death:||Complications of pneumonia|
|Place of Burial:||Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States|
Son of Eugene Luther Vidal, Sr. and Nina S. Olds
|Occupation:||Author, Novelist, Essayist and Playwrite|
|Managed by:||Gene Daniell|
Historical records matching Gore Vidal
<private> Vidalhalf sibling
<private> Hewitt (Vidal)half sibling
About Gore Vidal
- Born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal on October 3, 1925 (1925-10-03) (age 84) in West Point, New York
- Pen name Edgar Box, Cameron Kay, Katherine Everard
- Occupation Novelist, essayist, journalist, playwright
- Nationality United States
- Genres Drama, fictional prose, essay, literary criticism
- Literary movement Postmodernism
- Influences Petronius, Apuleius, Thomas Mann, Henry James, Mark Twain, Montaigne, Carson McCullers
- Influenced William Kennedy, Clive James, Christopher Hitchens, Truman Capote, Bill Maher
Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (pronounced /ˌɡɔər vɨˈdɑːl/ or /vɨˈdæl/; born October 3, 1925) is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter and political activist. Early in his career he wrote The City and the Pillar (1948), which outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality. He subsequently emerged as one of America's more important literary figures due to the enormous quantity of work produced over the course of his career, including novels, essays, plays, and short stories covering a wide variety of topics and eras. He also ran for political office twice and served as a longtime political critic.
Vidal was born in West Point, New York, the only child of Lieutenant Eugene Luther Vidal (1895–1969) and Nina S. Gore (1903–1978). He was born in the Cadet Hospital of the United States Military Academy, where his father was the first aeronautics instructor, and was christened by the headmaster of St. Albans preparatory school, his future alma mater. According to "West Point and the Third Loyalty", an article Vidal wrote for The New York Review of Books (October 18, 1973), he later decided to be called Gore in honor of his maternal grandfather, Thomas Gore, Democratic senator from Oklahoma.
Vidal's father, a West Point all-American quarterback who was director of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Air Commerce (1933–37) in the Roosevelt administration, was one of the first Army Air Corps pilots and, according to biographer Susan Butler, was the great love of Amelia Earhart's life. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was a co-founder of three American airlines: the Ludington Line, which merged with others and became Eastern Airlines, Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT, which became TWA), and Northeast Airlines, which he founded with Earhart, as well as the Boston and Maine Railroad. The elder Vidal was also an athlete in the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics (seventh in the decathlon; U.S. pentathlon team coach).
Gore Vidal's mother was an actress and socialite who made her Broadway debut in Sign of the Leopard in 1928. She married Eugene Luther Vidal Sr. in 1922 and divorced him in 1935. She later married twice more; one husband, Hugh D. Auchincloss, was later the stepfather of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and, according to Gore Vidal, she had "a long off-and-on affair" with actor Clark Gable. She was an alternate delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention.
Vidal had four half-siblings from his parents' later marriages (the Rev. Vance Vidal, Valerie Vidal Hewitt, Thomas Gore Auchincloss, and Nina Gore Auchincloss Steers Straight) and four stepbrothers from his mother's third marriage to Army Air Forces Major General Robert Olds, who died in 1943, ten months after marrying Vidal's mother. Vidal's nephew Burr Steers is a writer and film director, and nephew Hugh Auchincloss Steers (1963–1995) was a painter whose work is in the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Denver Art Museum.
Vidal was raised in Washington, D.C., where he attended Sidwell Friends School and then St. Albans School. Since Senator Gore was blind, his grandson read aloud to him and was his guide. The senator's isolationism contributed a major principle of his grandson's political philosophy, which is critical of foreign and domestic policies shaped by American imperialism. In 1943, on graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, Vidal joined the U.S. Army Reserve serving in the Aleutian Islands during World War II, where he served as master of an Army freight and supply boat.
Photo of Vidal by Carl Van Vechten, 1948
 Personal life
Vidal has had affairs with both men and women. The novelist Anaïs Nin claimed an involvement with Vidal in her memoir The Diary of Anaïs Nin but Vidal denied it in his memoir Palimpsest. Vidal has also discussed having dalliances with people such as actress Diana Lynn, and has alluded to the possibility that he may have an illegitimate daughter. He was briefly engaged to Joanne Woodward, before she married Paul Newman; after eloping, the couple shared a house with Vidal in Los Angeles for a short time. In 1950, he met his long-term partner Howard Austen.
During the latter part of the twentieth century Vidal divided his time between Italy and California. In 2003, he sold his 5,000-square-foot (460 m²) Italian Villa, La Rondinaia (The Swallow's Nest), and moved to Los Angeles. Austen died in November 2003 and, in February 2005, was buried in a plot for himself and Vidal at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Vidal, whom a Newsweek critic has called "the best all-around American man of letters since Edmund Wilson," began his writing career at nineteen, with the publication of the military novel Williwaw, based upon his Alaskan Harbor Detachment duty. The novel was successful and chronologically the first of the war novels about World War II. A few years later, The City and the Pillar caused a furor for its dispassionate presentation of homosexuality. The New York Times refused to review his next five books. The novel was dedicated to "J.T."
After a magazine published rumors about J.T.'s identity, Vidal confirmed they were the initials of his St. Albans-era love, James "Jimmy" Trimble III, killed in the Battle of Iwo Jima on June 1, 1945; later saying Trimble was the only person he had ever loved. Subsequently he wrote plays, films, and television series. Two plays, The Best Man and Visit to a Small Planet, were both Broadway and film successes. In the early 1950s he also wrote under the pseudonym "Edgar Box", producing three mystery novels featuring public relations man "Peter Cutler Sargeant II".
In 1956, Vidal was hired as a contract screenwriter for Metro Goldwyn Mayer. In 1959, director William Wyler needed script doctors to re-write the Ben-Hur script, originally written by Karl Tunberg. Vidal collaborated with Christopher Fry, reworking the screenplay on condition that MGM release him from the last two years of his contract. Producer Sam Zimbalist's death complicated the screenwriting credit. The Screen Writers Guild resolved the matter by listing Tunberg as sole screenwriter, denying credit to both Vidal and Fry. This decision was based on the WGA screenwriting credit system which favors original authors. Vidal later claimed in the documentary film The Celluloid Closet that in order to explain the animosity between Ben-Hur and Messala, he had inserted a gay subtext suggesting that the two had had a prior relationship, but that actor Charlton Heston was oblivious. Heston denied that Vidal contributed significantly to the script.
In the 1960s, Vidal wrote three novels. The first, Julian (1964) dealt with the apostate Roman emperor, while the second, Washington, D.C. (1967) focused on a political family during the Franklin D. Roosevelt era.
Vidal's third novel in the '60s was the satirical transsexual comedy Myra Breckinridge (1968), a variation on familiar Vidalian themes of sex, gender, and popular culture. In the novel, Vidal showcased his love of the American films of the '30s and '40s, and he resurrected interest in the careers of the forgotten players of the time including, for example, the late Richard Cromwell, who, he wrote, "was so satisfyingly tortured in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer."
After the staging of the plays, Weekend (1968) and An Evening With Richard Nixon (1972), and the publications of the novel Two Sisters (1970), Vidal focused on essays and two distinct strains in his fiction. The first strain comprises novels dealing with American history, specifically with the nature of national politics. Critic Harold Bloom wrote, "Vidal's imagination of American politics...is so powerful as to compel awe." This series' Narratives of Empire titles include Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), Lincoln (1984), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1990), The Golden Age (2000), and another excursion into the ancient world Creation (1981, published in expanded form 2002).
The second strain consists of the comedic "satirical inventions": Myron (1974, a sequel to Myra Breckinridge), Kalki (1978), Duluth (1983), Live from Golgotha: the Gospel according to Gore Vidal (1992), and The Smithsonian Institution (1998).
Vidal occasionally returned to scriptwriting cinema and television, including the television movie Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid with Val Kilmer and the mini-series Lincoln. He also wrote the original draft for the controversial film Caligula, but later had his name removed because director Tinto Brass and actor Malcolm McDowell re-wrote the script, changing the tone and themes significantly. The producers later made an attempt to salvage some of Vidal's vision in the film's post-production.
Essays and memoirs
Vidal is—at least in the U.S.—even more respected as an essayist than as a novelist. The critic John Keates praised him as "[the twentieth] century's finest essayist." Even an occasionally hostile critic like Martin Amis admits, "Essays are what he is good at ... [h]e is learned, funny and exceptionally clear-sighted. Even his blind spots are illuminating."
For six decades, Gore Vidal has applied himself to a wide variety of sociopolitical, sexual, historical, and literary themes. In 1987, Vidal wrote the essays titled Armageddon?, exploring the intricacies of power in contemporary America. He pilloried the incumbent president Ronald Reagan as a "triumph of the embalmer's art." In 1993, he won the National Book Award for his collection of essays, United States (1952–1992), the citation noting: "Whatever his subject, he addresses it with an artist's resonant appreciation, a scholar's conscience, and the persuasive powers of a great essayist." A subsequent collection of essays, published in 2000, is The Last Empire. Since then, he has published such self-described "pamphlets" as Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, and Imperial America, critiques of American expansionism, the military-industrial complex, the national security state, and the George W. Bush administration. Vidal also wrote an historical essay about the U.S.'s founding fathers, Inventing A Nation. In 1995, he published a memoir Palimpsest, and in 2006 its follow-up volume, Point to Point Navigation. Earlier that year, Vidal also published Clouds and Eclipses: The Collected Short Stories.
Because of his matter-of-fact treatment of same-sex relations in such books as The City and The Pillar, Vidal is often seen as an early champion of sexual liberation. Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings, a representative sampling of his views, contains literary and cultural essays. Focusing on, in his view, the anti-sexual heritage of Judeo-Christianity, irrational and destructive sex laws, feminism, heterosexism, homophobia, gay liberation and pornography, the essays frequently return to a favorite Vidal motif: the fluidity of sexual identity. Vidal argues that "there are no homosexual people, only homosexual acts." Given the diversity of human desire, Vidal resists any effort to categorize him as exclusively "homosexual"—either as writer or human being.
Acting and popular culture
In the 1960s, Vidal moved to Italy; he gave a cameo appearance in Federico Fellini's film Roma. In 1992, Vidal appeared in the film Bob Roberts (starring Tim Robbins) and has appeared in other films, notably Gattaca, With Honors, and Igby Goes Down. Vidal has voiced himself on both The Simpsons and Family Guy and appeared on the Da Ali G Show, where Ali G (intentionally) mistakes him for Vidal Sassoon. On his 2007 lecture tour, Vidal claimed that the core idea for the film Night at the Museum was suggested by one of his novels (presumably The Smithsonian Institution). He provided the narrative for the Royal National Theatre's production of Brecht's Mother Courage in the autumn of 2009.
Vidal was portrayed in Amelia (2009), as a child, by Canadian actor William Cuddy, and in Infamous, the story of Truman Capote, as a young adult, by American Michael Panes.
Political views and activities
Besides his politician grandfather, Vidal has other connections with the Democratic Party: his mother, Nina, married Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr., who later was stepfather of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Gore Vidal is a fifth cousin of Jimmy Carter. Vidal may be a distant cousin of Al Gore, but no link has been found by a Gore family historian.
As a political activist, in 1960, Gore Vidal was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress (running as Eugene Gore), losing an election in New York's 29th congressional district, a traditionally Republican district on the Hudson River, encompassing all of Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Schoharie, and Ulster Counties to J. Ernest Wharton, by a margin of 57% to 43%. Campaigning with a slogan of "You'll get more with Gore", he received the most votes any Democrat in 50 years received in that district. Among his supporters were Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward; the latter two, longtime friends of Vidal's, campaigned for him and spoke on his behalf.
On the December 15, 1971 taping of The Dick Cavett Show, with Janet Flanner, it was alleged that Norman Mailer had headbutted Vidal during an altercation in which there were mutual insults and name calling between the two before both went on air. Mailer moved his chair away from the other guests (Gore Vidal and Janet Flanner), and Cavett joked that "perhaps you'd like two more chairs to contain your giant intellect?" Mailer replied "I'll take the two chairs if you'll all accept finger-bowls." Mailer later said to Cavett "Why don't you look at your question sheet and ask your question?", to which Cavett replied "Why don't you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don't shine?" A long laugh ensued, after which Mailer asked Cavett if he had come up with that line and Cavett replied "I have to tell you a quote from Tolstoy?".
From 1970 to 1972, Vidal was one of the chairmen of the People's Party. His 1982 campaign against incumbent Governor Jerry Brown for the Democratic primary election to the United States Senate from California was documented in the film, Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No directed by Gary Conklin. Vidal lost to Brown in the primary election.
Frequently identified with Democratic causes and personalities, Vidal wrote in the 1970s:
There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party...and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt—until recently... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.
Despite this, Vidal has said "I think of myself as a conservative." Vidal has a protective, almost proprietary attitude toward his native land and its politics: "My family helped start [this country]", he has written, "and we've been in political life... since the 1690s, and I have a very possessive sense about this country." At a 1999 lecture in Dublin, Vidal said:
A characteristic of our present chaos is the dramatic migration of tribes. They are on the move from east to west, from south to north. Liberal tradition requires that borders must always be open to those in search of safety or even the pursuit of happiness. But now with so many millions of people on the move, even the great-hearted are becoming edgy. Norway is large enough and empty enough to take in 40 to 50 million homeless Bengalis. If the Norwegians say that, all in all, they would rather not take them in, is this to be considered racism? I think not. It is simply self-preservation, the first law of species.”
He has suggested that President Roosevelt deliberately provoked the Japanese to attack the U.S. at Pearl Harbor to facilitate American entry to the war, and believes FDR had advance knowledge of the attack. During an interview in the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, Vidal asserts that during the final months of World War II, the Japanese had tried to surrender to the United States, to no avail. He said, "They were trying to surrender all that summer, but Truman wouldn't listen, because Truman wanted to drop the bombs." When the interviewer asked why, Vidal replied, "To show off. To frighten Stalin. To change the balance of power in the world. To declare war on communism. Perhaps we were starting a pre-emptive world war."
During domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh's imprisonment, Vidal corresponded with McVeigh and concluded that he bombed the federal building as retribution for the FBI's role in the 1993 Branch Davidian Compound massacre in Waco, Texas.
Vidal is a member of the advisory board of the World Can't Wait organization, a left-wing organization seeking to repudiate the Bush administration's program, and advocating the impeachment of George W. Bush for war crimes.
In 1997, Vidal was one of 34 celebrities to sign an open letter to then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, published as a newspaper advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, which protested the treatment of Scientologists in Germany.
Vidal contributed an article to The Nation in which he expressed support for Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, citing him as "the most eloquent of the lot" and that Kucinich "is very much a favorite out there in the amber fields of grain".
In April 2009, Vidal accepted appointment to the position of honorary president of the American Humanist Association, succeeding Kurt Vonnegut.
On September 30, 2009, the Times published a lengthy interview with him headlined "We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US - The grand old man of letters Gore Vidal claims America is ‘rotting away’ — and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it", which brings up-to-date his views on his own life, and a variety of political subjects.
Vidal versus Buckley
In 1968, ABC News invited Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. to be political analysts of the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions. Verbal and nearly physical combat ensued. After days of mutual bickering, their debates devolved to vitriolic, ad hominem attacks. During discussions of the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests, the men were arguing about freedom of speech in regards to American protesters displaying a Viet Cong flag when Vidal told Buckley to "shut up a minute" and, in response to Buckley's reference to "pro-Nazi" protesters, went on to say "As far as I'm concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself." The visibly livid Buckley replied, "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered." After an interruption by anchor and facilitator Howard K. Smith, the men continued to discuss the topic in a less hostile manner.
Later, in 1969, the feud was continued as Buckley further attacked Vidal in the lengthy essay, "On Experiencing Gore Vidal", published in the August 1969 issue of Esquire. The essay is collected in The Governor Listeth, an anthology of Buckley's writings of the time. In a key passage attacking Vidal as an apologist for homosexuality, Buckley wrote, "The man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction [i.e., homosexuality], and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher."
Vidal responded in the September 1969 issue of Esquire, variously characterizing Buckley as "anti-black", "anti-semitic", and a "warmonger". The presiding judge in Buckley's subsequent libel suit against Vidal initially concluded that "[t]he court must conclude that Vidal's comments in these paragraphs meet the minimal standard of fair comment. The inferences made by Vidal from Buckley's [earlier editorial] statements cannot be said to be completely unreasonable." However, Vidal also strongly implied that, in 1944, Buckley and unnamed siblings had vandalized a Protestant church in their Sharon, Connecticut, hometown after the pastor's wife had sold a house to a Jewish family. Buckley sued Vidal and Esquire for libel. Vidal counter-claimed for libel against Buckley, citing Buckley's characterization of Vidal's novel Myra Breckinridge as pornography.
The court dismissed Vidal's counter-claim; Buckley settled for $115,000 in attorney's fees and an editorial statement from Esquire magazine that they were "utterly convinced" of the untruthfulness of Vidal's assertion. However, in a letter to Newsweek, the Esquire publisher stated that "the settlement of Buckley's suit against us" was not "a 'disavowal' of Vidal's article. On the contrary, it clearly states that we published that article because we believed that Vidal had a right to assert his opinions, even though we did not share them."
As Vidal's biographer, Fred Kaplan, later commented, "The court had 'not' sustained Buckley's case against Esquire... [t]he court had 'not' ruled that Vidal's article was 'defamatory.' It had ruled that the case would have to go to trial in order to determine as a matter of fact whether or not it was defamatory. [italics original.] The cash value of the settlement with Esquire represented 'only' Buckley's legal expenses [not damages based on libel]... " Ultimately, Vidal bore the cost of his own attorney's fees, estimated at $75,000.
In 2003, this affair re-surfaced when Esquire published Esquire's Big Book of Great Writing, an anthology that included Vidal's essay. Buckley again sued for libel, and Esquire again settled for $55,000 in attorney's fees and $10,000 in personal damages to Buckley.
After Buckley's death on February 27, 2008, Vidal summed up his impressions of his rival with the following obituary on March 20, 2008: "RIP WFB—in hell." In a June 15, 2008, interview with the New York Times, Vidal was asked by Deborah Solomon, "How did you feel when you heard that Buckley died this year?" Vidal responded:
I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.
Criticism of the George W. Bush administration
Vidal was strongly critical of the George W. Bush administration, listing it among administrations he considered to have either an explicit or implicit expansionist agenda.He has described George W. Bush as "the stupidest man in the United States".
He is of the view that for several years the Bush administration and their associates have aimed to control the petroleum of Central Asia (after gaining effective control of the petroleum of the Persian Gulf in 1991). In October 2006, Vidal derided NORAD for what he claims is a conspiracy against the US public having been perpetrated by an alliance of the US Air Force and the government of Canada at the time.
In May 2007, Vidal clarified his views, saying:
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I'm a conspiracy analyst. Everything the Bushites touch is screwed up. They could never have pulled off 9/11, even if they wanted to. Even if they longed to. They could step aside, though, or just go out to lunch while these terrible things were happening to the nation. I believe that of them.
Essays and non-fiction
* Rocking the Boat (1963)
* Reflections Upon a Sinking Ship (1969)
* Sex, Death and Money (1969) (paperback compilation)
* Homage to Daniel Shays (1972)
* Matters of Fact and of Fiction (1977)
* Views from a Window Co-Editor (1981)
* The Second American Revolution (1982)
* Armageddon? (1987) (UK only)
* At Home (1988)
* A View From The Diner's Club (1991) (UK only)
* Screening History (1992) ISBN 0-233-98803-3
* Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1992) ISBN 1-878825-00-3
* United States: essays 1952–1992 (1993) ISBN 0-7679-0806-6
* Palimpsest: a memoir (1995) ISBN 0-679-44038-0
* Virgin Islands (1997) (UK only)
* The American Presidency (1998) ISBN 1-878825-15-1
* Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings (1999)
* The Last Empire: essays 1992–2000 (2001) ISBN 0-375-72639-X (there is also a much shorter UK edition)
* Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came To Be So Hated, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002, (2002) ISBN 1-56025-405-X
* Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, Thunder's Mouth Press, (2002) ISBN 1-56025-502-1
* Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson (2003) ISBN 0-300-10171-6
* Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (2004) ISBN 1-56025-744-X
* Point to Point Navigation : A Memoir (2006) ISBN 0-385-51721-1
* The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal (2008) ISBN 0-385-52484-6
* Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare (2009) ISBN 0-810-95049-9
* Visit to a Small Planet (1957) ISBN 0-8222-1211-0
* The Best Man (1960)
* On the March to the Sea (1960–1961, 2004)
* Romulus (adapted from Friedrich Duerrenmatt's 1950 play Romulus der Große) (1962)
* Weekend (1968)
* Drawing Room Comedy (1970)
* An Evening with Richard Nixon (1970) ISBN 0-394-71869-0
* On the March to the Sea (2005)
* Williwaw (1946) ISBN 0-226-85585-6
* In a Yellow Wood (1947)
* The City and the Pillar (1948) ISBN 1-4000-3037-4
* The Season of Comfort (1949) ISBN 0-233-98971-4
* A Search for the King (1950) ISBN 0-345-25455-4
* Dark Green, Bright Red (1950) ISBN 0-233-98913-7 (prophecy of the Guatemala coup d'état of 1954, see "In the Lair of the Octopus" Dreaming War)
* The Judgment of Paris (1952) ISBN 0-345-33458-2
* Messiah (1954) ISBN 0-14-118039-0
* A Thirsty Evil (1956) (short stories)
* Julian (1964) ISBN 0-375-72706-X
* Washington, D.C. (1967) ISBN 0-316-90257-8
* Myra Breckinridge (1968) ISBN 1125979488
* Two Sisters (1970) ISBN 0-434-82958-7
* Burr (1973) ISBN 0-375-70873-1
* Myron (1974) ISBN 0-586-04300-4
* 1876 (1976) ISBN 0-375-70872-3
* Kalki (1978) ISBN 0-14-118037-4
* Creation (1981) ISBN 0-349-10475-1
* Duluth (1983) ISBN 0-394-52738-0
* Lincoln (1984) ISBN 0-375-70876-6
* Empire (1987) ISBN 0-375-70874-X
* Hollywood (1990) ISBN 0-375-70875-8
* Live from Golgotha: the Gospel according to Gore Vidal (1992) ISBN 0-14-023119-6
* The Smithsonian Institution (1998) ISBN 0-375-50121-5
* The Golden Age (2000) ISBN 0-375-72481-8
* Clouds and Eclipses : The Collected Short Stories (2006) (short stories, this is the same collection as A Thirsty Evil (1956), with one previously unpublished short story – Clouds and Eclipses – added)
* Climax!: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1954) (TV adaptation)
* The Catered Affair (1956)
* I Accuse! (1958)
* The Scapegoat (1959)
* Ben Hur (1959) (uncredited)
* Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
* The Best Man (1964)
* Is Paris Burning? (1966)
* Last of the Mobile Hot Shots (1970)
* Caligula (1979)
* Dress Gray (1986)
* The Sicilian (1987) (uncredited)
* Billy the Kid (1989)
* Dimenticare Palermo (1989)
* A Star's Progress (aka Cry Shame!) (1950) as Katherine Everard
* Thieves Fall Out (1953) as Cameron Kay
* Death Before Bedtime (1953) as Edgar Box
* Death in the Fifth Position (1952) as Edgar Box
* Death Likes It Hot (1954) as Edgar Box
Film appearances and interviews
* Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No (1983 documentary film)
* Bob Roberts – as Senator Brickley Paiste (1992 film)
* With Honors – Plays the pessimistic and right-wing Prof. Pitkannan (1994 film)
* Gattaca – Plays Director Josef in science-fiction film (1997)
* The Education of Gore Vidal (2003) Documentary by Deborah Dickson, aired in the US on PBS
* Thinking XXX (2004 documentary)
* Da Ali G Show (2004 TV)
* Why We Fight (2005 film)
* Inside Deep Throat (2005 film)
* One Bright Shining Moment (2005 film)
* Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula (2005 spoof trailer)
* Foreign Correspondent – with former NSW premier Bob Carr
* The U.S. Versus John Lennon (2006 film)
* Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra concert, August 2, 2007 – Narrated Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait (conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas) from a wheelchair.
* The Henry Rollins Show (2007 TV)
* "The Simpsons" episode: "Moe'N'a Lisa"
* "Family Guy" episode: "Mother Tucker"
* Alex Jones radio show (2006)
* Terrorstorm: Final Cut Special Edition (2007)
* Lateline – ABC Television Australia Interview (May 2, 2008)
* Democracy Now – interview: on the Bush Presidency, History and the "United States of Amnesia" (May 14, 2008)
* The South Bank Show (May 18, 2008)
* Hardtalk – BBC News (May 22, 2008)
* The Andrew Marr Show (May 25, 2008)
* The US is not a republic anymore (June, 2008)
* Zero: An Investigation Into 9/11 (June, 2008)
* Interview on the BBC's US Presidential Election Coverage with David Dimbleby (04/11/08)
* "Writer Against the Grain": Gore Vidal in conversation with Jay Parini at the 2009 Key West Literary Seminar (audio, 59:09)
* Real Time with Bill Maher (April 10, 2009)
* Shrink (2009 film)
1. ^ Vidal, Gore, "West Point and the Third Loyalty", The New York Review of Books, Volume 20, Number 16, October 18, 1973
2. ^ a b Vidal, Gore, "West Point and the Third Loyalty", The New York Review of Books, Volume 20, Number 16, October 18, 1973.
3. ^ Gore Vidal, Point to Point Navigation (New York: Doubleday, 2006), p. 245.
4. ^ "Aeronatics: $8,073.61", Time, September 28, 1931
5. ^ "Booknotes". Booknotes. http://www.booknotes.org/Transcript/?ProgramID=1391. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
6. ^ "Eugene L. Vidal, Aviation Leader", The New York Times, February 21, 1969, p. 43.
7. ^ South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Gene Vidal.
8. ^ "General Robert Olds Marries", The New York Times, June 7, 1942, p. 6.
9. ^ "Miss Nina Gore Marries". The New York Times. 12 January 1922. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F00E2DF1E3FE432A25751C1A9679C946395D6CF.
10. ^ Gore Vidal, Point to Point Navigation, New York: Doubleday, 2006, p. 135.
11. ^ "Politicians: Aubertine to Austern". The Political Graveyard. 2008. http://www.politicalgraveyard.com/bio/aubert-austen.html. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
12. ^ "Maj. Gen. Olds, 46, of Air Force, Dies", The New York Times, April 29, 1943
13. ^ "Hugh Steers, 32, Figurative Painter", New York Times, March 4, 1995.
14. ^ "Film; A Family's Legacy: Pain and Humor (and a Movie)", New York Times, September 15, 2002.
15. ^ Rutten, Tim, "'The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal'", Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2008.
16. ^ "Williwaw". Nytimes.com. 1946-06-17. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/01/home/vidal-williwaw.html. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
17. ^ a b "Gore Vidal". Thenation.com. http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/gore_vidal. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
18. ^ Joy Do Lico and Andrew Johnson, "The rumours about my love child may be true, says Gore Vidal", The Independent, May 25, 2008.
19. ^ "What I've Learned", Esquire, June, 2008, p. 132.
20. ^ Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
21. ^ Vidal, Gore. The City and the Pillar and Seven Early Stories, (New York, NY: Random House), page xiii.
22. ^ Gore Vidal, Point to Point Navigation (New York: Doubleday, 2006), p. 245
23. ^ Roberts, James "The Legacy of Jimmy Trimble", ESPN, March 14, 2002.
24. ^ Chalmers, Robert, "Gore Vidal: Literary feuds, his 'vicious' mother and rumours of a secret love child", The Independent, May 25, 2008.
25. ^ The Pseudonyms of Gore Vidal: 1950-1954.
26. ^ Ned Rorem (December 12, 1999). "Gore Vidal, aloof in art and in life". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 18S.
27. ^ Mick LaSalle (October 2, 1995). "A Commanding Presence: Actor Charlton Heston sets his epic career in stone -- or at least on paper". The San Francisco Chronicle. p. E1.
28. ^ John Leonard (7 July 1970). "Not Enough Blood, Not Enough Gore". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/01/home/vidal-sisters.html. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
29. ^ "Show Business: Will the Real Caligula Stand Up?", Time, January 3, 1977.
30. ^ Solomon, Deborah (2008–06–15). "Literary Lion". The New York Times Magazine. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/magazine/15wwln-Q4-t.html?ref=magazine. Retrieved 2008–06–29.
31. ^ "Gore Vidal Winner of the 1993 NONFICTION AWARD for UNITED STATES:ESSAYS 1952-1992" at nationalbook.org
32. ^ Décoration de l’écrivain Gore Vidal.
33. ^ "Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings", Salon, August 19, 1999.
34. ^ "Sundance Resort - Create, Creative Happenings, Films, Literary". Sundanceresort.com. http://www.sundanceresort.com/create/hap_literary.html#. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
35. ^ "The other Gore", Salon, September 20, 2000
36. ^ Gore, James L.. "GORE-L Archives". ancestry.com. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GORE/2001-05/0989347001. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
37. ^ clerk.house.gov 1960 election p.31
38. ^ Ira Henry Freeman, "The Playwright, the Lawyer, and the Voters", The New York Times, September 15, 1960, page 20
39. ^ "Gore Vidal". Wtp.org. http://www.wtp.org/archive/transcripts/gore_vidal.html. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
40. ^ Ira Henry Freeman, "Gore Vidal Conducts Campaign of Quips and Liberal Views", The New York Times, September 15, 1960
41. ^ Gore Vidal (1977). Matters of Fact and of Fiction: Essays 1973–1976. Random House. p. 268. ISBN 0394411285.
42. ^ Real Time With Bill Maher, Season 7, Episode 149, April 10th, 2009
43. ^ Gore Vidal, "Sexually Speaking: Collected Sexual Writings", Cleis Press, 1999
44. ^ The folly of mass immigration
45. ^ Gore Vidal, "Three Lies to Rule By" and "Japanese Intentions in the Second World War", from Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, New York, 2002 ISBN 1560255021
46. ^ Why We Fight
47. ^ Gore Vidal, "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh". Vanity Fair, September 2001.
48. ^ "World Can't Wait Advisory Board". http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=1&Itemid=2. Retrieved 2002-07-29.
49. ^ Drozdiak, William (1997-01-14). U.S. Celebrities Defend Scientology in Germany, The Washington Post, p. A11
50. ^ "Dennis Kucinich". Thenation.com. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071126/vidal. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
51. ^ Gore Vidal Accepts Title of American Humanist Association Honorary President
52. ^ Interview The Times September 30, 2009
53. ^ "Political Animals: Vidal, Buckley and the ’68 Conventions". http://www.pitt.edu/~kloman/debates.html. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
54. ^ "William Buckley/Gore Vidal Debate". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRjZR8j4-z4. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
55. ^ Gore Vidal (September, 1969). "A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr.". Esquire. p. 140.
56. ^ "Buckley Drops Vidal Suit, Settles With Esquire", The New York Times, September 26, 1972, page 40
57. ^ "Reports - Gore Vidal Speaks Seriously Ill of the Dead". Truthdig. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080320_gore_vidal_speaks_seriously_ill_of_the_dead/. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
58. ^ Solomon, Deborah. "Literary Lion: Questions for Gore Vidal". New York Times. June 15, 2008.
59. ^ "YouTube - The Henry Rollins Show - The Corruption of Election 2008". Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-drWGnF6DjM. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
60. ^ Osborne, Kevin. "Obama a Disappointment". City Beat. http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blog-1001-gore-vidal-obama-a-disappointment.html. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
61. ^ "Gore Vidal Interview with Alex Jones Infowars, October 29, 2006 Texas Book Fest". Video.google.com. 2006-11-01. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3156121348015048039&sourceid=docidfeed&hl=en. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
62. ^ Close (2007-05-05). "Diary: May 5 | Books | The Guardian". Books.guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/may/05/featuresreviews.guardianreview14. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
 External links
Search Wikiquote Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Gore Vidal
Search Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Gore Vidal
* The Gore Vidal Index, by Harry Kloman
* Gore Vidal at the Internet Movie Database
* Gore Vidal at the Internet Broadway Database
* Gore Vidal at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
* Gore Vidal New York Review of Books author profile including a list of his reviews and essays from over 40 years, along with a bibliography
* Audio recording: Gore Vidal at the Key West Literary Seminar, 2009: "Writer Against the Grain"
Eugene Luther Gore Vidal is a versatile writer of screenplays, novels, and essays. His radical political views as often expressed in his controversial writings attributed to his fame.
Gore Vidal, born Eugene Louis Vidal; was an American writer (of novels, essays, screenplays, and stage plays) and a public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.
He was born to a political family; his maternal grandfather, Thomas Pryor Gore, served as United States senator from Oklahoma (1907–1921 and 1931–1937). He was a Democratic Party politician who twice sought elected office; first to the United States House of Representatives (New York State, 1960), then to the U.S. Senate (California, 1982).
As a political commentator and essayist, Vidal's principal subject was the history of the United States and its society, especially how the militaristic foreign policy reduced the country to a decadent empire. His political and cultural essays were published in The Nation, the New Statesman, the New York Review of Books, and Esquire magazines. As a public intellectual, Gore Vidal's topical debates on sex, politics, and religion with other intellectuals and writers occasionally turned into quarrels with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr. and Norman Mailer. As such, and because he thought that men and women potentially are bisexual, Vidal rejected the adjectives "homosexual" and "heterosexual" when used as nouns, as inherently false terms used to classify and control people in society.
As a novelist Vidal explored the nature of corruption in public and private life. His polished and erudite style of narration readily evoked the time and place of his stories, and perceptively delineated the psychology of his characters. His third novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), offended the literary, political, and moral sensibilities of conservative book reviewers, with a dispassionately presented male homosexual relationship. In the historical novel genre, Vidal re-created in Julian (1964) the imperial world of Julian the Apostate (r. AD 361–63), the Roman emperor who used general religious toleration to re-establish pagan polytheism to counter the political subversion of Christian monotheism. In the genre of social satire, Myra Breckinridge (1968) explores the mutability of gender role and sexual orientation as being social constructs established by social mores. In Burr (1973) and Lincoln (1984), the protagonist is presented as "A Man of the People" and as "A Man" in a narrative exploration of how the public and private facets of personality affect the national politics of the U.S.
Early life Gore Vidal was born Eugene Louis Vidal in the cadet hospital of the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point, New York, and was the only child of Eugene Luther Vidal (1895–1969) and Nina Gore (1903–78). Vidal was born at the West Point cadet hospital because his first lieutenant father was the first aeronautics instructor of the military academy. The middle name, Louis, was a mistake on the part of his father, "who could not remember, for certain, whether his own name was Eugene Louis or Eugene Luther." In the memoir Palimpsest (1995), Vidal said, "my birth certificate says 'Eugene Louis Vidal': this was changed to Eugene Luther Vidal Jr.; then Gore was added at my christening [in 1939]; then, at fourteen, I got rid of the first two names."
Eugene Louis Vidal was not baptized until January 1939, when he was 13 years old, by the headmaster of St. Albans school, where Vidal attended preparatory school. The baptismal ceremony was effected so that he "could be confirmed [into the Episcopal faith]" at the Washington Cathedral, in February 1939, as "Eugene Luther Gore Vidal". He later said that, although the surname "Gore" was added to his names at the time of the baptism, "I wasn't named for him [maternal grandfather Thomas Pryor Gore], although he had a great influence on my life." In 1941, Vidal dropped his two first names, because he "wanted a sharp, distinctive name, appropriate for an aspiring author, or a national political leader ... I wasn't going to write as 'Gene' since there was already one. I didn't want to use the 'Jr.'"
Vidal's mother, Nina Gore, was a high society woman who made her Broadway theatre debut as an extra actress in Sign of the Leopard, in 1928. In 1922, Nina married Eugene Luther Vidal, Sr., and thirteen years later, in 1935, divorced him. Nina Gore Vidal then was married two more times; to Hugh D. Auchincloss, and also had "a long off-and-on affair" with the actor Clark Gable. As Nina Gore Auchincloss, Vidal's mother was an alternate delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention.
The subsequent marriages of his mother and father yielded four half-siblings for Gore Vidal – Vance Vidal, Valerie Vidal, Thomas Gore Auchincloss, and Nina Gore Auchincloss – and four step-brothers from his mother's third marriage to Robert Olds, a major general in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), who died in 1943, 10 months after marrying Nina. The nephews of Gore Vidal include Burr Steers, a writer and film director, and Hugh Auchincloss Steers (1963–95), a figurative painter.
Raised in Washington, D.C., Vidal attended the Sidwell Friends School and the St. Albans School. Given the blindness of his maternal grandfather, Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, of Oklahoma, Vidal read aloud to him, and was his Senate page, and his seeing-eye guide. The reading of history and literature, coupled to the senator's isolationism, formed the principles of Gore Vidal's "America First" political philosophy, which ran counter to the contemporary geopolitical adventurism of the American Empire. In 1939, during his summer holiday, Vidal went with some colleagues and professor from St. Albans School on his first European trip, to visit Italy and France. He visited for the first time Rome, the city which came "at the center of Gore's literary imagination", and Paris. When the Second World War began in early September, the group was forced to an early return home; on his way back, he and his colleagues stopped in Great Britain, and they met the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, Joe Kennedy (the father of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, later the President of the United States of America). In 1940 he attended the Los Alamos Ranch School and later transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Rather than attend university, Vidal enlisted in the U.S. Army and worked as an office clerk within the USAAF. Later, Vidal passed the examinations necessary to become a maritime warrant officer (junior grade) in the Transportation Corps, and subsequently served as first mate of the F.S. 35th, berthed at Dutch Harbor. After three years in service, Warrant Officer Gene Vidal suffered hypothermia, developed rheumatoid arthritis and, consequently, was reassigned to duty as a mess officer.
Writer The literary works of Gore Vidal were influenced by numerous other writers, poets and playwrights, novelists and essayists. These include, from antiquity: Petronius (d. AD 66), Juvenal (AD 60–140), and Apuleius (fl. ca. AD 155); and from the post-Renaissance: Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866) and George Meredith (1828–1909). More recent literary figures by whom his work was influenced include: Marcel Proust (1871–1922), Henry James (1843–1916), and Evelyn Waugh (1903–66).
For six decades, Vidal the writer applied himself to many socio-political, sexual, historical, and literary subjects. In the essay anthology Armageddon (1987) Vidal explored the intricacies of power (political and cultural) in the contemporary U.S. His criticism of the incumbent U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, as a "triumph of the embalmer's art" communicated that Reagan's provincial worldview, and that of his Administrations, was out of date and inadequate to the geopolitical realities of the world in the late twentieth century. In 1993, Vidal won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for the anthology United States: Essays 1952–92 (1993).
We are all bisexual to begin with. That is a fact of our condition. And we are all responsive to sexual stimuli from our own as well as from the opposite sex. Certain societies at certain times, usually in the interest of maintaining the baby supply, have discouraged homosexuality. Other societies, particularly militaristic ones, have exalted it. But regardless of tribal taboos, homosexuality is a constant fact of the human condition and it is not a sickness, not a sin, not a crime ... despite the best efforts of our puritan tribe to make it all three. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Notice I use the word 'natural,' not normal.
Screenplays In 1956, the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio hired Gore Vidal as a screenplay writer with a four-year employment contract. In 1958, the director William Wyler required a script doctor to rewrite the screenplay for Ben-Hur (1959), originally written by Karl Tunberg. As one of several script doctors assigned to the project, Vidal rewrote portions of the script in order to resolve ambiguities of character motivation, specifically to clarify the enmity between the Jewish protagonist, Judah Ben-Hur, and the Roman antagonist, Messala, who had been close boyhood friends. In exchange for rewriting the Ben-Hur screenplay, on location in Italy, Vidal negotiated the early termination (at the two-year mark) of his four-year contract with the MGM movie studio.
Politics As a public intellectual, Gore Vidal was identified with the liberal politicians and the progressive social causes of the Democratic Party. In 1960, he was the Democratic candidate for Congress, for the 29th Congressional District of New York State, a usually Republican district on the Hudson River, but lost the election to the Republican candidate J. Ernest Wharton, by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent. Campaigning under the slogan of You'll get more with Gore, Vidal received the most votes any Democratic candidate had received in the district in fifty years. Among his supporters were Eleanor Roosevelt, and Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, friends who spoke on his behalf.
In 1982, he campaigned against Jerry Brown, the incumbent Governor of California, in the Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate; Vidal correctly prophesied that the opposing Republican candidate would win that election. That foray into senatorial politics is the subject of the documentary film Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No (1983), directed by Gary Conklin.
Vidal became a member of the board of advisors of The World Can't Wait, a political organization who sought to publicly repudiate the foreign-policy program of the Bush Administration (2001–2009), and advocated Bush's impeachment for war crimes, such as pre-emptively launching the Second Iraq War (2003–2011) and torturing prisoners of war (soldiers, guerrillas, civilians) in violation of international law.
In a 30 September 2009 interview with the London Times Vidal said that there soon would be a dictatorship in the U.S. The newspaper emphasized that Vidal, described as "the Grand Old Man of American belles-lettres", claimed that America is rotting away – and to not expect Barack Obama to save the country and the nation from imperial decay. In the interview, also up-dated his views of his life, the U.S., and other political subjects. Gore had earlier described what he saw as the political and cultural rot in the U.S. in his essay, "The State of the Union" (1975), writing: There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party ... and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently ... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.
Cultural politics The Truman Capote–Vidal feud In 1975 Vidal sued Truman Capote for slander over the accusation that he had been thrown out of the White House for being drunk, putting his arm around the first lady and then insulting Mrs. Kennedy's mother. Said Capote of Vidal at the time: "I'm always sad about Gore – very sad that he has to breathe every day." Mutual friend George Plimpton observed: "There's no venom like Capote's when he's on the prowl – and Gore's too, I don't know what division the feud should be in." The suit was settled in Vidal's favor when Lee Radziwill refused to testify on Capote's behalf, telling columnist Liz Smith, "Oh, Liz, what do we care; they're just a couple of fags! They're disgusting."
The Buckley-Vidal feud In 1968, the ABC television network hired the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. as political analysts of the presidential-nomination conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties. Their strong commentaries led to Buckley threatening Vidal with physical violence. After days of bickering, their debates degraded to the vitriolic, to ad hominem attacks. In discussing the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests, the public intellectuals argued about the freedom-of-speech-right of American political protesters to display a Viet Cong flag, when Vidal told Buckley to "shut up a minute", after Buckley had interrupted him, and, in response to Buckley's reference to "pro-Nazi" protesters, said: "As far as I'm concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself." The offended Buckley replied, "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I'll sock you in the goddamn face, and you'll stay plastered." Their quarrel was interrupted by the ABC News anchorman-moderator Howard K. Smith, and they controlled their mutual hostility, and returned to providing the political analysis and commentary for which they had been hired. Later, William F. Buckley said he regretted having called Gore Vidal "a queer," yet said that Vidal was an "evangelist for bisexuality". In the obituary "RIP WFB – in Hell" (20 March 2008), Vidal remembered his nemesis William F. Buckley, Jr., who had died on 27 February 2008. Later, in the interview "Literary Lion: Questions for Gore Vidal" (15 June 2008), the New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon asked Vidal, "How did you feel, when you heard that Buckley died this year?" Vidal responded: I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins, forever, those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred. The Buckley-Vidal debates, their aftermath and cultural significance, were the focus of a 2015 documentary film called Best of Enemies.
Actor and pop-culture figure In the 1960s, Vidal migrated to Italy, where he befriended the film director Federico Fellini, for whom he appeared in a cameo role as himself in the film Roma (1972). He acted in the movies Bob Roberts (1992), a serio-comedy about a reactionary populist politician who manipulates youth culture to win votes; With Honors (1994) an Ivy league college-life comedy; Gattaca (1997), a science-fiction drama about genetic engineering; and Igby Goes Down (2002), a coming-of-age serio-comedy directed by his nephew, Burr Steers.
Private life In the multi-volume memoir The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Anaïs Nin said she had a love affair with Vidal, who denied her claim in his memoir Palimpsest (1995). Vidal also said that he had an intermittent romance with the actress Diana Lynn, and alluded to possibly having fathered a daughter. Yet, regarding Nin, in the online article "Gore Vidal's Secret, Unpublished Love Letter to Anaïs Nin" (2013), author Kim Krizan said she found an unpublished love letter from Vidal to Nin, which contradicts his denial of a love affair with Nin. Krizan said she found the love letter whilst researching Mirages, the latest volume of Nin's uncensored diary, to which Krizan wrote the foreword. Moreover, he was briefly engaged to the actress Joanne Woodward before she married the actor Paul Newman; after marrying, they briefly shared a house with Vidal in Los Angeles.
Vidal as a young man In 1950, Gore Vidal met Howard Austen, who became his life-partner in a 53-year relationship. He said that the secret to his long relationship with Austen was that they did not have sex with each other: "It's easy to sustain a relationship when sex plays no part, and impossible, I have observed, when it does." In Celebrity: The Advocate Interviews (1995), by Judy Wiedner, Vidal said that he refused to call himself "gay" because he was not an adjective, adding: “to be categorized is, simply, to be enslaved. Watch out. I have never thought of myself as a victim... . I've said – a thousand times? – in print and on TV, that everyone is bisexual."
In an interview with Esquire magazine in 1969, Gore said: "Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Notice I use the word natural, not normal." Commenting his life's work and his life, he described his style as: "Knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."
In the course of his life, Vidal lived and resided at various times in Italy and in the United States. In 2003, as his health began to fail with age, he sold his Italian villa La Rondinaia (The Swallow's Nest) on the Amalfi Coast in the province of Salerno, and he and Austen returned to reside in America permanently in Los Angeles. In November 2003 Howard Austen died. In February 2005 Austen's body was re-buried at Rock Creek Cemetery, in Washington, D.C., in a joint grave plot that Vidal had purchased for himself and Austen.
Death In 2010 Vidal began to suffer from Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder often caused by chronic alcoholism. On 31 July 2012 Vidal died of pneumonia at his home in the Hollywood Hills in his 86th year.
A memorial service was held for him at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York City on 23 August 2012. Vidal's body was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, in Washington, D.C.
Gore Vidal's Timeline
October 3, 1925
West Point, Orange County, New York, United States
July 31, 2012
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States