A true renaissance figure of the postwar American literary and political scene, Gore Vidal enjoyed concurrent careers as a best-selling novelist, celebrated Broadway playwright, A-list Hollywood screenwriter, politician, activist, essayist and historian. A veteran of World War II, the predominantly homosexual Vidal had lost the love of his life at the Battle of Iwo Jima and channeled his grief into the autobiographical novel, <i>The City and the Pillar</i>, which caused a scandal in the publishing world but was later canonized as a landmark of the American gay rights movement. An ally of Democratic President John F. Kennedy, Vidal tangled often with conservative writer William F. Buckley, with whom he feuded publically for 30 years. In Hollywood, Vidal turned out screenplays for such films as "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1959) and "Ben-Hur" (1959), while his theatrical writing and fiction inspired such features as "Visit to a Small Planet" (1959) and the camp classic "Myra Breckinridge" (1970). A renowned author of historical novels, Vidal was tapped by <i>Penthouse</i> publisher Bob Guccione to script "Caligula" (1979) but sued to have his name removed from the credits when Guccione added hardcore inserts that turned the production into the most expensive porn reel in movie history. Receding from public life in later years due to advanced age and infirmity, Vidal remained a controversial and divisive figure, surviving his political and literary rivals to endure as the last man standing of 20th Century arts and letters.