At the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1955, she wrote for the school newspaper and for The Detroit Free Press.
After graduation, she was hired by United Press International, which on one memorable occasion sent her to cover a show by Elvis Presley in Detroit. She wangled an invitation to the singer’s hotel room, where one thing led to another. As she left, Presley asked her to order him a fried egg sandwich from room service.
Later, she wrote in her 2006 memoir “Insatiable: Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess,” she could not remember much about the sex, but the sandwich stayed in her mind: “Yes, the totemic fried egg sandwich. At that moment, it might have been clear I was born to be a restaurant critic. I just didn’t know it yet.”
A one-week tryout in 1957 at The New York Post led to a full-time job as a general assignment reporter. In her three years at the newspaper, she specialized in undercover stories. She pretended to be pregnant to report on a baby-trafficking ring and exposed high-pressure sales tactics at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. Her experiences at The Post provided much of the material for her first book, “Don’t Come Back Without It,” published in 1960.
In 1961 she married one of her editors at the paper, Donald H. Forst, who would later edit New York Newsday and The Village Voice. They divorced 13 years later. A brother, James Greene, is her only immediate survivor.
Ms. Greene was earning a good living as a freelance writer, contributing to McCall’s, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Ladies’ Home Journal and other magazines, when Mr. Felker, remembering her fly-on-the-wall account in The Herald Tribune about the reopening of the celebrated French restaurant La Côte Basque, approached her about joining New York magazine. The proposed salary was poor, but the prospect of unlimited free dining enticed her.