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Iconic playwright and author Gore Vidal died on Tuesday at the age of 86, his personal website reported Tuesday evening (Note: the website was down early Wednesday morning). Vidal is most famous for his novel The City and the Pillar, which was the first American novel to feature an outwardly gay character. He also admitted to being the one who added the sexual tension to Ben-Hur. He was a champion for the gay community in New York City, especially. 

One of the stories people like to share about Vidal is of the time he got punched by Norman Mailer, as retold in this Telegraph obituary for Mailer:

This violence was carried over into literary disputes. In 1971, in the green room before The Dick Cavett Show, Mailer butted Gore Vidal in the face, having taken exception to the novelist's review of one of his books. Seven years later, at a party, he threw a glass at him and, by some accounts, including Vidal's ("I saw this tiny fist coming at me"), punched him. Still on the floor, Vidal announced: "Words fail Norman Mailer. Yet again."

Vidal will also be remembered for the interview he gave to The Atlantic in 2009 in which he called the victim in Roman Polanski's rape case a hooker:

I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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