Liz Smith, the legendary gossip columnist whose dispatches on the highs and lows of New York society made her a celebrity in her own right, has died at age 94. Denis Ferrara, her longtime assistant, confirmed the news to EW.
Known as the “Dame of Dish,” Smith boasted one of the world’s most widely read columns for more than a quarter-century and helped usher in an era of celebrity journalism. She began her self-titled column in The Daily News in 1976, later moving to New York Newsday and then The New York Post. Smith also won an Emmy in 1985 for her reporting on WNBC’s Live at Five, where she was a fixture for years, and her reporting on the 1990 split of Donald and Ivana Trump made front-page news all over the world.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Smith was known for her insider access rather than a take-no-prisoners approach. Over the course of her career, she wrote for magazines including Ladies’ Home Journal, Vogue, and Sports Illustrated, and published several books, including a 2000 memoir, Natural Blonde, and a 2005 recipe collection, Dishing: Great Dish — and Dishes — From America’s Most Beloved Gossip Columnist.
In a melancholy profile published in the New York Times earlier this year, Smith lamented the changing landscape of celebrity journalism.
“Maybe gossip is still amusing, but I don’t think it’s as much fun as it used to be, because it’s now all-pervasive,” she said. “Someone you never knew their name is on the front page, making millions of dollars or going broke, and you never heard of them before. In the past we were able to identify important people and stars.”
As news of Smith’s death spread, the Today show’s Al Roker paid tribute to her on Twitter. “I was fortunate enough to work with the amazing Liz Smith,” he wrote. “During my time at WNBC she was nothing short fabulous. Liz passed away at the age of 94 and with her, a piece New York.”