Gore Vidal, who wrote 24 novels, five plays and more than 200 essays, died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers told the Los Angeles Times. He was 86.
Born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal on Oct. 3, 1925 in the Cadet Hospital of the U.S. Military Academy where his father Eugene was the first aeronautics instructor, Vidal went by the first name Gore in honor of maternal grandfather Thomas Gore, a senator from Oklahoma from 1907 to 1921 and 1931 to 1937.
Vidal, one of the literary giants of the 20th Century, was described by The Times as "impossible to categorize" and and author of "volumes of essays critics consider among the most elegant in the English language."
Vidal's novels include The City and the Pillar; Burr; 1876; Lincoln; The Judgement of Paris; Messiah; Julian; Washington, D.C.; Myra Breckinridge; and Duluth.
Vidal wrote the screenplays for Suddenly, Last Summer; The Best Man; and Is Paris Burning.
Vidal was the playwright of The Best Man, a drama about a political convention which premiered on Broadway in 1960 and where a revival is currently running; Visit to a Small Planet; Romulus; Weekend; and A Evening with Richard Nixon.
Vidal received the National Book Award in 1993 for United States: Essays, 1952-72.
Vidal lost a bid for a seat in the House of Representatives from New York in 1960 and was defeated by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1982 in a campaign for the Democratic nomination for a Senate seat from California.