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Diamond Jim Brady

AKA James Buchanan Brady

Born: 12-Aug-1856
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 13-Apr-1917
Location of death: Atlantic City, NJ
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Cremated, Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Gender: Male
Religion: Baptist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Larger-than-life millionaire

James Buchanan Brady made millions of dollars selling equipment to the burgeoning railroads of Jay Gould, W. Averell Harriman, J. Pierpont Morgan, Leland Stanford, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. An utterly self-made man, he began as a bellhop for the New York Central Railway, and rose to become assistant to the General Manager by the time he was 21. He then took a low-level management position with Manning, Maxwell, and Moore, a railroad and industrial supply company, and duplicated his rapid rise there. As an executive at the Fox Pressed Steel Car Company he became moderately wealthy with commissions on his increasingly sizable supply deals, though he earned most of his fortune with brilliant investment strategy on Wall Street. By the beginning of the Twentieth Century he had a net worth approaching $15M.

Believing that his success should be visibly obvious, Brady took to wearing the finest suits and an array of glittering jewels, earning his nickname "Diamond Jim". He was a constant presence at the upstairs poker and baccarat tables at the Waldorf-Astoria, and in New York City's Broadway night life he was known as a dancer and big tipper. His extravagances included a $9,000 bejeweled watch, a diamond-studded umbrella, and an $8,500 pair of diamond-studded glasses for his dog. He drove the first automobile in New York City, and it was said that even his underwear was bejeweled. A gourmet and a glutton, he was well-known for ordering lavish, dozen-course meals. He never touched alcoholic beverages and he never married, but he had discreet romantic liaisons with actress Lillian Russell.

In Diamond Jim, a 1935 film starring Edward Arnold and loosely based on Brady's life, his doctor tells him he will die if he does not diet, but Brady dramatically decides that life without gluttony would not be worth living and sits down to literally eat himself to death with a grand feast. In reality, Brady died of a heart attack in his sleep. He was, however, known to suffer from Bright's disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes, gallstones, high blood pressure, inflammation of the prostate gland, and persistent and recurring urinary tract infections, for which he had been treated at Johns Hopkins University. In gratitude he left the university the bulk of his millions. He is the namesake of the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins.

Father: John Brady (saloon keeper, b. 1810, d. 1863)
Mother: Mary Brady (saloon keeper, b. 1824, d. 1908)
Son: Daniel Brady
Daughter: Hattie Brady Mathieu
Girlfriend: Lillian Russell (actress)

    Standard Car Company Vice President (1902-17)
    Independent Pneumatic Tool Company President
    United Injector Company Director
    Keith Car & Manufacturing Company Vice President
    Osgood-Bradley Car Company Vice President
    Consolidated Safety Valve Company Director
    Fox Pressed Steel Car Company Gneral Manager
    Manning, Maxwell, and Moore to Director
    New York Central Railway
    Irish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Diabetes, Obesity, Appendicitis

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