Gore Vidal was best known as an author, pundit and raconteur. But the writer, who died Tuesday at 86, also had time for movies — both writing for and appearing in them.
His screenwriting career took more than a few notable turns. Most famously was 1979’s “Caligula,” the explicit look at the tyrannical and hedonistic Roman emperor. Wild sex scenes prompted gasps through the film world, as did the drama behind the scenes -- after disagreements with the directors and others on the film, Vidal had only limited control over the final product, as the movie was re-cut (with additional sex scenes) by producer and Penthouse chief Bob Guccione.
There were also plenty of adult themes in Vidal’s New Orleans-set mystery “Suddenly Last Summer,” a 1959 release that trafficked in murder, mental illness and (homo)sexual explicitness. Starring Montgomery Clift, Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, Vidal adapted the picture from the Tennessee Williams play. Despite (or because) of its racy themes, the movie went on to be a big box-office hit.
Vidal also looked at homosexuality and politics in 1964's “The Best Man,” a script he adapted form his own play about a presidential candidate who was closeting his past. (A revival of the play recently hit Broadway.) And he co-wrote, with Francis Ford Coppola, the 1966 World War II picture "Is Paris Burning?"