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FACTBOX-Details of Gore Vidal's life

Aug 1 (Reuters) - Writer Gore Vidal, whose acerbic observations on politics, sex and American culture in novels and essays made him one of the best-known American authors of his generation, died on Tuesday at the age of 86.
/ Source: Reuters

Aug 1 (Reuters) - Writer Gore Vidal, whose acerbic observations on politics, sex and American culture in novels and essays made him one of the best-known American authors of his generation, died on Tuesday at the age of 86.

Following are some facts about his life.

-Born in West Point, New York, as Eugene Luther Vidal Jr on Oct. 3, 1925, he took his mother's surname as his first name. His grandfather was Democratic U.S. Sen. Thomas Gore of Oklahoma. A distant cousin is former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

-After his parents divorced, Vidal's mother married Hugh Auchincloss, who later also became the stepfather of Jacqueline Kennedy, giving Vidal access to the Kennedy White House.

-He started writing as a 19-year-old soldier, basing his novel, "Williwaw," on his World War Two experiences.

-His third book "The City and the Pillar" (1948) was among the first open portrayals of a homosexual character - but his career as a novelist foundered for several years as a result.

-His works include the satire "Myra Breckinridge" (1968) and historical pieces such as "Lincoln" (1984) and "Burr" (1973). He also covered Tinseltown with "Hollywood" (1990) and wrote "Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir" (2006).

-Vidal was a celebrity writer known for rubbing elbows and trading barbs with famous people in print and in person. He considered Ernest Hemingway a joke and compared Truman Capote to a "filthy animal that has found its way into the house".

-His most famous literary enemies were Norman Mailer and conservative pundit William F. Buckley Jr. Mailer, whom Vidal once likened to cult killer Charles Manson, head-butted Vidal before a TV appearance.

-Vidal once described the United States as "the land of the dull and the home of the literal" and, starting in the 1960s, lived much of the time in a seaside Italian villa. He moved back permanently in 2003, shortly before Howard Austen, his companion of more than 50 years, died of cancer.

-Vidal died on July 31, 2012 of complications of pneumonia at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, his nephew Burr Steers told the Los Angeles Times. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)