Gore Vidal, one of the greatest American writers, takes a starring role in our upcoming film, Best of Enemies, as the liberal sparring partner of arch-conservative William F Buckley Jr during the 1968 Democratic and Republican national conventions. The televised debates between the two men catapauled Vidal into celebrity - and notoriety - and began the age of American TV pundits, for better or worse.
Born in 1925 to a privileged family, Vidal began writing his first novel at seven. One of the few true public intellectuals in the United States, Vidal was as prolific in publishing as in self-promotion - from running for public office, appearing on The Simpsons and Family Guy, and several high profile feuds with the likes of Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, David Dimbleby and, of course, William F. Buckley Jr.
The author of some 25 novels, including Myra Breckinridge, a satrical story of a transgender woman in 1970s Hollywood, which caused at minor scandal at the time, Vidal courted controversy throughout his career. Open and unapologetic about his sexuality, he claimed to have over 1000 sexual conquests by the age of 25, and was undeterred by charges of pornography and sexual deviance levelled at his work. Speaking in an interview, he said, "I have been in open rebellion against the heterosexual dictatorship in the United States."
Vidal died in 2003 in Los Angeles. In honour of his sharp wit, here are a few Vidal gems.
"Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television"
"Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little."
"Democracy is supposed to give you the feeling of choice, like Painkiller X and Painkiller Y. But they're both just aspirin"
"I'm all for bringing back the birch, but only between consenting adults"
"There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise."
Best of Enemies is in cinemas July 24.