Liz Smith, the syndicated gossip columnist whose mixture of banter, barbs, and bon mots about the glitterati helped her climb the A-list as high as numerous celebrities she covered, died Sunday at the age of 94.
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She was at one point the highest-paid print journalist in the USA - earning more than $1 million a year - and snagged exclusive interviews with celebrities, politicians and NY bigwigs including Ivana Trump, who dished to Smith about her split from Donald Trump in 1990.
She moved from the Daily News to Newsday in 1991, remaining for four years, then signed with the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post.
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But it was her sharp writing at Cosmopolitan - namely the salacious details of the romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - that led to her break at the Daily News. In the 80s Smith befriended Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana, even taking trips with them to Mar-a-Lago; when their marraige exploded in 1990, Smith chose Ivana's side, and got the scoops that followed, but she was always linked to them both. Over time, she ascended to fame and wealth.
After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Smith recalled buying a one-way ticket to NY in 1949 with a dream of being the next Walter Winchell.
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Smith told the New York Times in 2014 that her love of movies began when she was six or seven and that she never wanted to do anything else. Known as the "Dame of Dish", Smith helped usher in the era of celebrity journalism in print and television. She spent five years as a news producer for NBC TV, and she also worked for Allan Funt on "Candid Camera". Ten years later she jumped to Fox, and she later did work for the cable channel E! She soon relocated to NY, where she worked as a typist, proofreader and reporter before working as a news producer for Mike Wallace at CBS Radio. And a lot of my relationships with men were more flirtatious and adversarial.