Diana McLellan, who dished Washington gossip with verve, dies at 76
Her first marriage, to Robin Bull, ended in divorce. In 1963, she wed Richard X. McLellan Jr. Besides her husband, of Easton, Md., survivors include a daughter from her first marriage, Fiona Weeks of Easton, Md.; a sister; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Mrs. McLellan died at her daughter’s home of cancer, said her daughter.
In her post-column years, Mrs. McLellan wrote for magazines such as Washingtonian and Ladies’ Home Journal. Her books included “Ear on Washington” (1982), “The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood” (2000), which explored the lesbian scene in the film capital during the 1930s and ’40s, and “Making Hay” (2012), a poetry collection.
Mrs. McLellan once offered advice for those hoping to stay out of the news: Do whatever you want in August.
“August is when congressmen go away and drop one wife and marry another, when people build additions to their houses that other people don’t want built, when shops in Georgetown turn into porno shops,” she once told the reference guide Contemporary Authors.
“It is sort of the Mardi Gras of Washington,” she added, “when everybody gets away with everything. The Senate is out, the House is out, the Supreme Court is out, and the White House people are usually away. So the gossip columnists go away too.”
Diana McLellan,who died June 25 at 76, was a self-described “jolly pariah” whose Washington gossip column the Ear became a puckish, first-read chronicle of social news and intrigue in the 1970s and 1980s.
She mock-lamented the foibles of public officials (“Where are standards?”). She detailed who was going “wok shopping” (getting married) or “expecting more than the mailman” (pregnant).
She coyly alluded to extramarital dalliances sometimes under the very nose (or coats) of chic partygoers. “It is very poor form in Washington,” she wrote, “to use your host’s bed for any purpose other than storing outer clothing.”
Washington — the city where hostess Alice Roosevelt Longworth popularized the quip, “If you haven’t anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me” — has long been a free-trade zone of rumor. In the 1960s, The Washington Post’s Maxine Cheshire brought an investigative zeal to the gossip trade, while the Washington Star’s genteel Betty Beale scouted human-interest items in the lives of the black tie and champagne set.
Into this mix came the British-born McLellan, who wrote gossip in the 1970s and 1980s, first for the Star, then for The Post (where she narrowly avoided libel action from President Jimmy Carter) and finally at the Washington Times.
Chuck Conconi, a former editor at Washingtonian magazine who for seven years wrote a gossip and celebrity column in The Post, described Mrs. McLellan as “the best of any of us. She wrote a smart, sassy little column that had this effervescence of British humor.”
Attribution: BY ADAM BERNSTEIN, WashingtonPost.com
Full story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/diana-mclellan-washington-gossip-columnist-dies-at-76/2014/06/26/ccb680bc-faff-11e3-932c-0a55b81f48ce_story.html