A writer, humorist, and lit world social fixture, Fran Lebowitz is renowned for her flip one-liners and for her scathing essays on weighty topics like race.

A Morristown, New Jersey native, Lebowitz moved to the city after being expelled from high school (for "nonspecific surliness," she claims) and worked as a cabbie (among other odd jobs) before Andy Warhol hired her to write a column for his nascent Interview. Falling into the 1970s downtown literary scene, she also wrote for Mademoiselle and earned acclaim for two books of acerbic essays: Metropolitan Life (1978) and Social Studies (1981). Then came an 11-year period of writer's block, a silence she affably attributes to sloth. She returned with a children's book in 1994, Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas, about two bears named "Pandemonium" and "Don't Panda to Public Taste." Although she hasn't published much since, she remains a cultural commentator (she appeared in four episodes of Ric Burns' epic New York documentary TV series) and wit-for-hire, and Lebowitz's modern-day Dorothy Parker reputation seems so entrenched that a lack of literary output hardly affects her status as a New York institution.

The openly gay Lebowitz lives in Midtown. [Image via Getty]