Liz Smith, the New York Daily News writer whose gossip column was ultimately syndicated in more than 70 newspapers across the country, died today in New York from natural causes. She was 94.
Born Feb. 2, 1923 in Fort Worth, Texas, Smith graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism in 1949, where she wrote for The Daily Texan and The Texas Ranger. After moving to New York, she worked as a typist, a proofreader and a reporter before she broke into the media world as a news producer for Mike Wallace at CBS Radio. She spent five years as a news producer for NBC-TV, and she worked for Allen Funt on “Candid Camera.”
In the late 1950s Smith was employed as a ghostwriter for the “Cholly Knickerbocker” gossip column that appeared in the Hearst newspapers, and went to work for Helen Gurley Brown as the entertainment editor for the American version of Cosmopolitan magazine, later working simultaneously as Sports Illustrated’s entertainment editor as well.
In February 1976, Smith began a self-titled gossip column for the New York Daily News. During a 1979 newspaper strike, her Daily News editors asked her to appear daily on WNBC-TV’s Live at Five and she stayed with the program for 11 years, ultimately winning an Emmy for her reporting in 1985.
Smith then moved onto Newday and eventually the New York Post, and exited Newsday in April 2005 over a contract dispute. In 2009, the Post discontinued Smith’s column effective as a cost-cutting measure. She also made regular apprearances on Fox News.
Among Smith’s most famous work was covering the high-profile divorce between then-real estate mogul Donald Trump and wife Ivana.