Dishing And Taking

When it comes to star gazing, no one does it better than Liz Smith, a celebrity among celebrities.

"You know, I've known most of these people either well or slightly. And I think they're pretty terrific. I, even I had good experiences with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who were, you know, talk about divas. They were divas," Smith says.

Smith serves up all kinds of spicy gossip. No one has been dishing longer than she has: more than 50 years, reports CBS Sunday Morning contributor Dan Rather.

"I was introduced to Sean Penn by a very famous Hollywood agent. He said, 'Sean, I'd like you to meet Liz Smith.' And Sean Penn looked at me, turned, ran down the hall and went -- left the building," Smith recalls.

Of course, most celebrities run to Smith, not away from her, simply because she's usually so nice to them.

As she sees it, Martin Sheen is "one of the most loved and respected actors in America."

Liza Minelli is "an inspiring tornado of energy, optimism and showbiz pizzazz." And -- full disclosure here -- she's also been nice in print to this reporter.

Yet, despite her propensity for niceties, Smith admits, "I made a lot of enemies anyway."

True enough. Smith dared to tell Ivana Trump's side against "The Donald's" in his first divorce.

"I had Donald Trump saying he was going to buy the New York Daily News in order to fire me," Smith recalls. "I mean I've made some remarkable enemies. Sean Connery, who told me he would like to stick this column up where the sun don't shine. And I've never seen him again.

"I don't make little enemies. They're always biggies."

The biggest of all: Frank Sinatra.

At the suggestion that Sinatra hated Smith, the columnist agreed.

"I got tired of seeing him picking on women so, I just got fed up, and I started saying he's a bully," Smith says. "He's always attacking women. I remember he said I was 'fat, old, ugly and a dyke.' Well, I'm no fatter, older, uglier, or dykier than he is.

"I mean he did this over and over again," Smith says. "He, he helped make me famous."

Smith says she started out hoping to turn her journalism degree from the University of Texas into a Pultizer Prize. But, she also dreamed of the glamorous life in New York.

"I thought Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were here dancing on black glass floors. And I thought everything was here. My idol, Walter Winchell was here," Smith says.

Smith's idol is credited for inventing celebrity journalism. But, unlike Smith, he spent as much time breaking careers as making them.
  • Sean Alfano

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