As a young man, Vidal looked like this, (right).
In its obituary of Vidal, there came a telling moment from the New York Times, telling more about the Times than about Vidal, I feel.
In the 1960s, Vidal and his arch enemy William Hitler F. Buckley Jr. had a famous fight on TV, during a debate on Buckley's chat show. The Times describes it thus:
Captured in a vintage black-and-white YouTube clip, the two can be seen and heard engaging in a nasty word brawl. Mr. Vidal pins the label “crypto-Nazi” on Buckley, who testily responds by calling Mr. Vidal a “queer.” The epithets were ugly then, as they are today. But what is most striking to the contemporary viewer is how much the combatants resemble each other, beginning with their languidly patrician tones. The phrases come from the gutter, but plainly Mr. Vidal and Buckley do not. They exude the princely confidence once associated with well-born Americans of a certain pedigree.As a friend from my school days would put it: I'm sorry, I don't want to be offensive, but... "crypto-Nazi" is not an ugly epithet. It is quite accurate. Buckley was as vile an old fascist pig as you could ever find in America. This is a good example of the conservative New York Times weakly trying to tread the middle road as usual, without taking sides -- and this is the newspaper that right-wing morons claim is one of the pillars of the liberal media. And neither 'epithet' comes from the gutter. This being America, I thought we all, in some way, 'come from the gutter'?
By the way, that photo of Vidal as a young man was taken by Carl van Vechten.