Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (born Eugene Louis Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He was also known for his patrician manner, Transatlantic accent, and witty aphorisms. Vidal came from a distinguished political lineage; his grandfather was the U.S. Senator Thomas Gore of Oklahoma.
Vidal was a lifelong Democrat; he ran for political office twice and was a longtime political commentator. As well known for his essays as his novels, Vidal wrote for The Nation, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and Esquire. Through his essays and media appearances, Vidal was a longtime critic of American foreign policy. In addition to this, he characterised the United States as a decaying empire from the 1980s onwards. He was also known for his well-publicized spats with such figures as Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Truman Capote.
His most widely regarded social novel was Myra Breckinridge; his best known historical novels included Julian, Burr, and Lincoln. His third novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), outraged conservative critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality. Vidal always rejected the terms of "homosexual" and "heterosexual" as inherently false, claiming that the vast majority of individuals had the potential to be pansexual. His screenwriting credits included the epic historical drama Ben-Hur (1959), into which he claimed he had written a "gay subplot." Ben-Hur won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
At the time of his death he was the last of a generation of American writers who had served during World War II, including J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, and Joseph Heller. Perhaps best remembered for his caustic wit, he referred to himself as a "gentleman bitch" and has been described as the 20th century's answer to Oscar Wilde.