Diamond Jim Brady
|James B. Brady|
Diamond Jim Brady c. 1900
|Born||James Buchanan Brady|
August 12, 1856
New York City, New York, United States
|Died||April 13, 1917 (aged 60)|
Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
|Cause of death||Myocardial infarction|
|Body discovered||Shelburne Hotel|
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery|
Early life and family
Brady worked his way up from bellhop and courier. After gaining employment in the New York Central Railroad system, he became the chief assistant to the general manager by the age of 21. At 23, Brady parlayed his knowledge of the rail transport industry and its officials to become a highly successful salesman for Manning, Maxwell and Moore, a railroad supply company. In 1899 he became Sales Agent for the Pressed Steel Car Company.
Brady's enormous appetite was as legendary as his wealth, though modern experts believe it was greatly exaggerated. It was not unusual, according to the legend, for Brady to eat enough food for ten people at a sitting. George Rector, owner of a favorite restaurant, described Brady as "the best 25 customers I ever had". For breakfast, he would eat "vast quantities of hominy, eggs, cornbread, muffins, flapjacks, chops, fried potatoes, beefsteak, washing it all down with a gallon of fresh orange juice". A mid-morning snack would consist of "two or three dozen clams or Lynnhaven oysters". Luncheon would consist of "shellfish...two or three deviled crabs, a brace of boiled lobsters, a joint of beef, and an enormous salad". He would also include a dessert of "several pieces of homemade pie" and more orange juice. Brady would take afternoon tea, which consisted of "another platter of seafood, accompanied by two or three bottles of lemon soda". Dinner was the main meal of the day, taken at Rector's Restaurant. It usually comprised "two or three dozens oysters, six crabs, and two bowls of green turtle soup. Then in sumptuous procession came six or seven lobsters, two canvasback ducks, a double portion of terrapin, sirloin steak, vegetables, and for dessert a platter of French pastries." Brady would even include two pounds of chocolate candy to finish off the meal.
A gregarious man, Brady was a mainstay of Broadway nightlife. He often dined with popular society. After further investments in the stock market, Brady accumulated wealth estimated at $12 million, though not always by ethical means. According to biographer Harry Paul Jeffers, "On election night (1896), Brady won about $180,000 (equivalent to approximately $5,294,880 in 2017 dollars) by making crooked bets on the William McKinley–William Jennings Bryan presidential election." He also enriched himself to the tune of $1.25 million (equivalent to approximately $36,770,000 in 2017 dollars) through a shady stock deal involving the Reading Railroad.
Brady donated a significant sum in 1912 to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had once been treated. The hospital created the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute in his honor.
Brady had never married, and after his death his estate was distributed to many institutions, most notably New York Hospital. Now known as NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, the Department of Urology still maintains the James Buchanan Brady Foundation.
Brady was the inspiration for a 1935 film written by Preston Sturges entitled Diamond Jim and might have inspired a character called "Big Jim" in the Bob Dylan song, "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts".
A story about Brady is told in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Jailbird in which Brady, on a bet while dining at the Hotel Arapahoe, eats four dozen oysters, four lobsters, four chickens, four squabs, four T-bone steaks, four pork chops, and four lamb chops.
The actor Howard Keel was cast as Brady in a 1963 episode of the syndicated television anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. In the story line, while traveling by train in Texas, Brady accepts a nearly impossible wager that he can sell $100,000 worth of barbed wire to area ranchers who oppose such fencing - and can do so without leaving the train.
Brady is featured in Caleb Carr's The Angel of Darkness near the end of a chapter; as the main characters arrive in Saratoga Springs, the narrator Stevie sees Brady dining with his paramour Lillian Russell, and notes that while neither Brady's manners nor language are all that pleasant, neither are Miss Russell's.
- Jeffers, H. Paul (August 17, 2001). Diamond Jim Brady: Prince of the Gilded Age. Wiley. p. 368. ISBN 978-0471391029.
- Diamond Jim Brady : Prince of the Gilded Age
- "M. M. & M." Time. January 24, 1938. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
The Brady fable got its pith from Charles A. Moore, founder of Manning, Maxwell & Moore, who took Brady on as a cub salesman in 1879 when the company was only a jobber for railroad supplies, sent Diamond Jim out on the road with instructions to spend all the money necessary to make customers like him. Diamond Jim stuck to this tenet through the panic of the middle nineties with such success that spending money to make money has been the Manning, Maxwell & Moore system ever since.
- "Pressed Steel Car Company". Builders of Wooden Railway Cars. Mid-Continent Railway Museum. April 17, 2006.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- Kamp, David (December 30, 2008). "Whether True or False, a Real Stretch". The New York Times.
- Ehler, James T. (n.d.). "Diamond Jim Brady". FoodReference.com. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Frail, T.A. (December 7, 2009). "Top 10 Real-Life Grinches". Smithsonian.com.
- Burke, John (1972). Duet In Diamonds the Flamboyant Saga Of Lillian Russell and Diamond Jim Brady in America's Gilded Age. G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 286. ISBN 978-0399109065.
- "Diamond Jim Brady Dies While Asleep. Bulk of Fortune of from $10,000,000 to $20,000,000 May Go to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Jewels for Metropolitan Museum. A Keen Man of Business. $200,000 for Johns Hopkins". The New York Times. April 14, 1917. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
James Buchanan Brady of New York died this morning from a heart attack at the age of 61. He literally slept into death, for his constant attendant had no warning of the fatal stroke.
- "Diamond Jim Brady on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
- Jeffers, Harry Paul. Diamond Jim Brady: Prince of the Gilded Age, New York: Wiley, 2001.
- White, John H. Jr. (Spring 1986). "America's Most Noteworthy Railroaders". Railroad History. 154: 9–15. ISSN 0090-7847. JSTOR 43523785. OCLC 1785797.
- "Whether True or False, A Real Stretch" The New York Times (December 20, 2008)
- "James "Diamond Jim" Brady". Railroad Business Magnate. Find a Grave. January 1, 2001. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- Gilding the Gilded Age: Interior Decoration Tastes & Trends in New York City: A collaboration between The Frick Collection and The William Randolph Hearst Archive at LIU Post.