Gossip Queen Dishes Dirt On Herself

Liz Smith Talks About Her Sexuality

When the spotlight turns to the one who gathers the gossip, it's not always comfortable.

During an interview with CBS News Correspondent Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes celebrity journalist Liz Smith recalls one of her Alice-through-the-looking-glass encounters with the media. The 60 Minutes interview will be broadcast Sunday, Sept. 17.

About three years ago, Time magazine did a piece, Smith says, "using the Trump divorce and me as a bad example of what had happened to American journalism, the depths to which it had fallen… They interviewed me exhaustively for this story - whereupon they wrote their own version of the history of gossip, using everything I had told them, and then making fun of me."

Ironically, she says, the first questions Time asked her were: "Have you had your face lifted?" and "Are you gay?"

When the questions are repeated by Wallace, Smith answers the face-lift query with a laugh: "Yes, of course I have."

But her sexuality is more complex.

The secret of Rock Hudson's homosexuality could have come out at the peak of his stardom if not for a protective and understanding Smith, who says she's also had a same-sex lover. The gossip queen tells Wallace how she protected Hudson from a blackmailer and speaks candidly about her own sexuality for the first time during the 60 Minutes interview.

Smith and Hudson became good friends early in his career in the 1950s. Hudson found out just how good a friend she was some years later when he was a huge star. "(Hudson) told me that he was going to be blackmailed by a certain woman who he knew that I knew… She was going to sell the story that he was gay to the tabloids," recalls Smith.

Smith tells Wallace that she had stories about the blackmailer and was "furious" enough to use them. "Then I did something that was probably not too upstanding… I sent (Hudson) all my information on this woman," says Smith. "(Hudson) went to her…and that was the end of her blackmail," Smith tells Wallace. "This was a bad woman. I was glad we could vanquish her for the moment."

Smith also tells Wallace she had a crush on Hudson, then a hunk starring in screen classics such as Magnificent Obsession and Giant.

Her sympathy for his predicament also could have come from her own troubling experience over a same-sex relationship. She tells Wallace she fell in love with a woman when she attended the University of Texas in Austin. "The wrong sex…it wasn't easy," she says. "I couldn't have been more shocked and surprised… It all exploded and her parents took her out of school," says Smith, whose autobiography, titled Natural Blonde, will be published next week.

The incident led to a temporary rift with her own parents, and she labels it "unfortunate." But she has no embarrassment about her love affars over the years with men or women. "I'm not ashamed. I've had a wonderful time," Smith tells Wallace.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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