Columnist Claudia Cohen Dead At 56

Claudia Cohen arrives at the premiere of "United 93" during the Fifth Annual Tribeca Film Festival, April 25, 2006.
GETTY IMAGES/Evan Agostini
Claudia Cohen, a New York gossip columnist who became the subject of much gossip herself when she married into the city's elite, has died at the age of 56.

Cohen died Friday at a Manhattan hospital of ovarian cancer, said Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for her ex-husband, billionaire Ronald Perelman.

By the time of her death, Cohen was a millionaire socialite renowned for her contacts and East Hampton parties. But she had her start 30 years earlier as one of the first reporters for the New York Post's Page Six, dishing on the sort of people she would later invite to her parties.

Two years after her 1977 start at Page Six, she become the column's second editor, overseeing the column's coverage of such legendary locales as Studio 54.

In the early 80s, while penning a gossip column for the Daily News, Cohen began dating Perelman. She became a boldface name herself when she became the second of his four wives. When they divorced years later, she left with an $80 million settlement and a permanent place in New York's socialite circles.

Perelman said in a written statement that Cohen was "a remarkable, dynamic woman, a terrific mother and my best friend."

"She will be missed by all who knew her," he said.

Bob Colacello, Cohen's friend and a Vanity Fair writer, said that although "Claudia came from a wealthy family, married a billionaire and knew the most famous people in the world, she was always a girl from the Jersey suburbs. She never put on airs."

"She loved giving parties and collecting famous people," he said. "But she wasn't a snob."

After her divorce, she briefly dated New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.

Most recently, Cohen was an entertainment correspondent for television's "Live With Regis and Kelly" and "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee." She appeared as a guest on "Larry King Live" and as a judge in the "Miss America Pageant."