Gore Vidal Acknowledged “Myra Breckinridge” Was Possibly The Worst Movie Ever Made

bottoms_up_head_upLiterary giant Gore Vidal, who passed away two years ago at age 86, was usually the smartest person in any room he entered. During his lifetime, mostly due to his staggering achievement as a writer and essayist, but partly due to his legendary and spirited televised debates with conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr., Vidal’s name was synonymous with American culture at its most elegant and intellectual — and sometimes most prickly. So there’s some endlessly amusing irony that the man who authored some of the most highly-regarded novels of the twentieth century is today best known for penning the source material for Myra Breckinridge, which many film buffs consider to be “the worst movie ever made.”

To be fair, Vidal’s 1968 novel about a trans heroine was quite the cause celebre, even landing him on the covers of numerous national magazines, and he had nothing to do with the widely-ridiculed 1970 film adaptation, starring sex bomb Raquel Welch as the MTF titular heroine, an embalmed Mae West in her penultimate screen appearance and dewy Farrah Fawcett in one of her earliest, that made a complete “bad movie we love”-mess of his witty, erudite prose.

If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and seek it out because it should be a gay viewing rite-of-passage. Just don’t, however, expect Valley of the Dolls-style unintentional hilarity. Myra is utterly, jaw-droppingly awful in every conceivable way — from the performances of its leading ladies (who reportedly feuded in real life, culminating in Welch perpetuating a rumor that West was really a man) to its misguided use of clips from classic Hollywood films to punctuate scenes — a bizarre decision which led to numerous lawsuits. But, hey, it was the late 1960s and LSD was all the rage so draw your own conclusions on why this thing went south.

Anyway, in Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, a new and exceptional doc that’s currently playing in New York and opening this weekend in Los Angeles, we learn how the author came to write the controversial best-seller. Watch a clip from it below.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #farrahfawcett #gorevidal #gorevidal:theunitedstatesofamnesia stories and more


  • litper

    He was a nasty self-hater and straight-worshipper!

  • Desert Boy

    The worst movie ever made? I’m a big fan of Gore Vidal but had he never seen cult classics ‘Valley of the Dolls’ and ‘Mommy Dearest’?

  • enfilmigult

    Hell, even if you just limit it to stuff Gore Vidal disowned, ‘Caligula’ is a whole lot worse.

    HUGE fan of the book, although I found out after a couple of frowning friends handed it back to me that if you’re not familiar with old-style film criticism or just a movie nut, it’s probably going to go in one ear and out the other. The movie…eh. It’s a total mess, it’s regularly embarrassing (there are few sights like Mae West singing “Hard to Handle”), and it muddles or screws up most every idea the book had about human sexuality (if you want to get pissed off, get the DVD and listen to the director share his thoughts about gay folks), but what can I say, it made me laugh a few times. And it’s not saying much, but Raquel Welch is better in this than I’ve ever seen her in anything; she really committed, right down to talking with that out-of-date movie actress accent.

  • misterheck

    I swear I just read an article on Queerty about a transphobic Jenny McCarthy tweet that said, “‘transsexual’? Really? I don’t think I’ve heard that word since the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and even then it was probably out-dated.” (

    And then I click over here and what do I see? “…Vidal’s 1968 novel about a transsexual heroine was quite the cause celebre…”

    You just can’t make this stuff up. :)

  • twigg

    this is one of my favourite movies of all time, what does that say about me haha ?

    i can understand gore vidal’s sour grapes though since he was fired from writing the screenplay, warner brothers wanted to take a campier approach so they brought in michael sarne because they liked what he did with “joanna”.

  • tricky ricky

    forget about the six foot, lets talk about the 7 inches…. — myra isn’t the worst movie ever made. the worst movies ever made are inside daisy clover and beyond the valley of the dolls.

  • Uppity

    Raquel Welch didn’t just feud with Mae West, she was also a bitch to Farrah Fawcett, who later described Welch as “mean spirited.” She apparently told Fawcett that it was a shame Fawcett’s canines were a slightly different shade from her front teeth, as this would show up alarmingly on the big screen.

Comments are closed.