Doris Lilly; Author, Columnist

Associated Press

Doris Lilly, a newspaper columnist known for her wide range of celebrity acquaintances and her book “How to Marry a Millionaire,” has died at age 64.

Miss Lilly, who was born in South Pasadena and grew up in Santa Monica, died Wednesday at Beth Israel Hospital. She had suffered from cancer, her executor, Kurt Vonschuschnigg, said Thursday.

Her 1951 book became the basis of a Marilyn Monroe movie of the same title. Thirty years later, working on a sequel, “How to Meet a Billionaire,” she commented, “A million dollars isn’t much money these days. You can’t even get a decent house for that.”

Miss Lilly wrote a society column that ran in the New York Post three times a week from 1958 to 1968. She reported on celebrity gossip for WPIX television from 1974 to 1977.

She made a minor splash in 1988 when she auctioned two letters written to her 40 years earlier by Ronald Reagan, when the President-to-be was romancing her between marriages. The letters sold for $4,400.


Friends and associates said she was part of the inspiration for the character Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Since December, Miss Lilly had been writing a monthly column of reminiscences, “The Gilded Lilly,” for Avenue magazine. Her final column, about her former neighbor Joan Crawford, is in the October issue.

Vonschuschnigg said she had no survivors and did not want a funeral.