Gossip columnist Liz Smith died at age 94 a few days ago. For 33 years, from 1976-2009, she was the lead gossip queen for the New York City tabloids. She wrote for the New York Daily News, Newsday, and the New York Post. She eventually was syndicated nationally to about 75 newspapers. Her passing represents the end of an era, but more important to me personally, I celebrate the woman who made my engagement special.
Back on June 3, 2000 while at a Book Expo America convention in Chicago. I crashed a Random House party being thrown to celebrate the publication of Natural Blond, the confessional memoir of the woman known as the Grand Dame of Dish.
I attended with colleagues from work. I was just a year into the company, the same one I’m with now (Planned Television Arts, since renamed MEDIA CONNECT). One of my co-workers, Amy, had a sister who was the head of marketing for Random House Audiobooks. Her name is Laura.
I met the woman I would marry two years later and have been with ever since. I never saw Liz Smith again but I felt she was connected to our relationship. On Thanksgiving Day, 2001, just a few months after the horrific events of September 11, I proposed to Laura in front of her entire family.
I wrote to Liz Smith the next day in a personal letter, telling her she was there when I met my special someone. I guess the woman who covered celebrities for a living found it pleasing to hear. She was in the room when two ordinary people found love and she ended up writing about us in her column.
There it was, in black and white, read by millions of people: “When I was promoting my memoir in Chicago, at least a year ago, in attendance were Brian Feinblum and Laura Rosenthal. Both worked in book promotion. At the party, these two met and now they are blaming me for the fact that they fell in love, and are engaged. Call me Cupid.”
Her comments were laced between gossip on Brad Pitt, Jenifer Aniston and Michelle Pfeiffer.
We framed the article and hung it up in our house.
When we got married we invited her to the wedding. She didn’t attend but she did send a wonderful crystal bowl that we’ve used on special occasions.
Her passing saddened us but it made us fondly recall the day we had met. To review her career would be the subject of a book. She covered Marlon Brando, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and every bold-face name from the second half of the 20th century.
She also served for 11 years on NY’s popular TV show, NBC’s Live at Five, where she won an Emmy for her gossip reporting.
One of her biggest stories was the Donald Trump-Ivana Trump divorce. Trump hated Smith so much that he reportedly tried to buy the newspaper she worked for so he could fire her.
Not to be out-scooped, she came out as being bisexual in her memoir, despite having been married twice to men. At one point she earned over one million dollars annually, exceeding the pay of any columnist or executive editor of her day. She became almost as popular as those she covered.
She had an interesting career, penning books, working for Mike Wallace at CBS Radio, writing for Cosmopolitan, Parade, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, and Ladies' Home Journal. She used to develop ideas for TV’s Candid Camera, and later appeared on E! Entertainment Television.
Liz, I’m so happy your event brought me together with my wife of 15 years. You were outstanding in practicing your profession. May all those people, whom you covered and knew, gossip about you today.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs
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