Longtime gossip queen Liz Smith dies at 94

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Longtime gossip columnist Liz Smith, who started her column at the New York Daily News in 1976, has died, according to the newspaper.

Her literary agent, Joni Evans, told The Associated Press that Smith died of natural causes in NY.

Known affectionately as the "the Grand Dame of Dish", Smith's legendary work included a chronicle of Donald and Ivana Trump's divorce, which made front-page news. Throughout her illustrious career, Smith worked for the New York Daily News, New York Post, HuffPost, CBS Radio, and others. 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.

"Smith said Trump had called her from a plane about his dissolving marriage, telling Smith, "'I like Ivana, I might get back with her, '" she recounted. He added that "a piece (of) New York" has passed away with her.

Asked by the Times whether she ever paid for stories - a sensitive subject for at least some gossip columnists - Smith replied: "I could have".

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After a brief marriage while attending Hardin-Simmons University, Smith earned her journalism degree and headed off for NY with two suitcases and $50.

Her tome "The Mother Book" was published in 1978, followed by her New York Times bestselling memoir "Natural Blonde" in 2000 and 2005's "Dishing: Great Dish - And Dishes - From America's Most Beloved Gossip Columnist". "I don't think these stars now have enough background or sense of history and philosophy to do that". During my time at WNBC she was nothing short of fabulous. She dished, but always found a way to make it entertaining and fun.

She raised money for groups such from Literacy Volunteers, which teaches adults to read and write, to the Women's Action Alliance, which promotes full equality for women.

She appeared on a variety of documentaries about celebrities including 2007's "A Tribute to Peter Bart: Newhouse Mirror Award", centering on the former editor-in-chief of Variety; Smith also played herself on TV series including "The Nanny", "Murphy Brown" and "The Roseanne Show".

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