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Gore Vidal, 86, celebrated author, playwright, dies

BY HILLEL ITALIE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES -- In a world more to his liking, Gore Vidal might have been president, or even king. He had an aristocrat's bearing - tall, handsome and composed - and an authoritative baritone ideal for summoning an aide or courtier.

But Vidal made his living - a very good living - from challenging power, not holding it. He was wealthy and famous and committed to exposing a system often led by men he knew firsthand. During the days of Franklin Roosevelt, one of the few leaders whom Vidal admired, he might have been called a "traitor to his class." The real traitors, Vidal would respond, were the upholders of his class.

The author, playwright, politician and commentator whose vast and sharpened range of published works and public remarks were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, died Tuesday at age 86 in Los Angeles.

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