Although an official cause of death has not been released, Vidal's nephew, Burr Steers, said he died of complications from pneumonia, according to AP. Vidal had been living alone at his home in Hollywood and had been sick for "quite a while," Steers said.
Along with Vidal’s bestsellers and hundreds of essays, he also wrote the Tony-nominated play "The Best Man," recently revived on Broadway.
He appeared in a number of films as well, including the Tim Robbins political satire "Bob Roberts," in which he played a US senator. More recently, Vidal voiced himself on both "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy."
Vidal twice ran unsuccessfully for political office. He was the Democratic candidate for Congress in an upstate New York district in 1960. In 1982, Vidal came in second to Gov. Jerry Brown in the California Democratic senatorial primary.
The pundit was born to a political family. His grandfather, Thomas Gore, was a Democratic senator from Oklahoma. His father, Gene Vidal, served briefly in President Franklin Roosevelt's administration and was an early expert on aviation. Gore and Jackie Kennedy also shared a stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss.
Vidal spoke his mind quite freely and most famously slammed conservative William F. Buckley in 1968 prior to the 1968 election on ABC News. Vidal accused Buckley of being a "crypto-Nazi." Buckley threatened to slap Vidal in the face.
In an interview with the New York Times in 2008, Vidal was asked to comment about Buckley's death. "I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.”
In addition to his nephew, Vidal is survived by half-sister Nina Straight and half-brother Tommy Auchincloss.