In Memoriam: Sallie Brady
Sallie Brady, a friend and a contributor to this site, died unexpectedly last week. Sallie was a wonderful and gifted freelance writer and editor. She had a brilliant smile, a warm and engaging manner, and some of the best media gossip imaginable. Days before something hit The New York Post’s Page Six, you could hear it from Sallie, fact-checked and cross referenced via her bevy of friends, informants and Cassandras at the major magazines in New York.
Always dressed up in a fashion that suggested the high gloss 50’s rather than the dressed down permanent Fridays we seem to be in now, Sallie was a shot of old fashioned glam. With her fuzzy sweaters and pearls, she had the sorority look long before “Mad Men” made it chic all over again. Like many people I’ve known who seem to be the most authentic, died-in-the-wool, hardboiled New Yorkers, she was born and raised in the Midwest, in her case in Cleveland.
She worked at many magazines including GQ, Brides, House Beautiful and This Old House, and had lived a New York life that seemed ambitious for someone twice her age, with tales that would have made Dawn Powell sit up and pay attention, if not Dorothy Parker. Some came from her days haunting the fabled Lion’s Head on Christopher Street, where newspaper guys, novelists and other wastrels would drink and talk and then talk some more. Think of the likes of Breslin, Hamill, and Frank McCourt. She was acquainted with a lot of people, as one can be if you’re young and smart and social in the city.
We’d see each other at press events in New York, Sallie arriving sparkling and smiling. If you knew her, you’d watch her do her thing and then wait for her to stand next to you and hear her breathy, sotto voce rundown of everyone in the room. It was always worth the wait. She knew every Holly Golightly making the scene and the backstory to the poseurs, the influencers, and the most interesting people in the room.
We traveled together a bit – back in the late 90’s, we did the Coast to Coast walk across England with a small group of like-minded masochistic Anglophiles. Sallie usually lagged behind but she was a trooper, even as her every step seemed an agony, as if the physical act of walking across a field instead of in search of a cab were something new to her. The sight of her in hiking boots made me wonder if she might have done better in her usual white heels. We roamed through the Cotswolds another time, gathering material for stories on antique dealers and auctions and collectibles, subjects in which Sallie because something of an expert for Art & Antiques and Forbes Life. Here she was more sure-footed, fearsome with cagey dealers, quick to show umbrage – there was an Irish temper lurking there — but equally quick to reward someone with a smile if it was warranted.
She wrote the Letter from London column for me and raced across that city covering antiques fairs and shows, crashing one night at The Dorchester, the next at One Aldwych and maybe Dukes the night after that. It was a glam life and she knew everyone, as they say, this 47 year old woman who traveled with her favorite pillow that had been stuffed into the overhead of more than one first class compartment. At home, she buckled down and worked hard, her companions a succession of small white dogs and a beloved Irish husband, Jimmy, from whom she was recently widowed. She was a delight and she will be missed by many.