Author, political activist, playwright, and screenwriter Gore Vidal passed away yesterday at the age of 86, according to USA Today. His nephew, Burr Steers, said Vidal died in his Hollywood Hills home of complications from pneumonia. He had been ill for quite some time.

Best known for novels like Myra Breckinridge and The City and the Pillar, Vidal became notable for being one of the first major authors to tackle the subject of homosexuality without a filter. He also wrote scripts for movies like Caligula and historical novels as well, such as Lincoln and Burr.

Over the years Vidal had become a bigger pop-culture sensation than his actual works, having appeared on TV shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. Vidal was an influence on American culture and had friends and acquaintances in nearly every walk of life, including JFK, Susan Sarandon, Paul Newman, and countless others.

His penchant for being a non-conformist helped the world of literature to evolve and become more accepting towards alternative lifestyles. And that was perhaps his biggest accomplishment.

[via USA Today]