[Dixielandjazz] Ed Bradley Obit - NY TIMES

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 10 07:16:40 PST 2006

He was a Jazz fan who will be missed.

Steve Barbone

Ed Bradley, TV Correspondent, Dies at 65

By JACQUES STEINBERG Published: November 10, 2006

Ed Bradley, a fixture in American living rooms on Sunday nights for a
quarter century as a correspondent on ³60 Minutes² and one of the first
black journalists prominently featured on network television, died yesterday
in Manhattan. He was 65.

Mr. Bradley died at Mount Sinai Medical Center of complications from chronic
lymphocytic leukemia, said Dr. Valentin Fuster, his cardiologist and the
director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai. Mr. Bradley, who
underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 2003, learned he had leukemia
³many years ago,² Dr. Fuster said, but it had not posed a threat to his life
until recently, when he was overtaken by an infection.

Even some close colleagues, including Mike Wallace, did not know that Mr.
Bradley had leukemia or that his health had precipitously deteriorated over
the last few weeks. His most recent segments on ³60 Minutes² were on Oct. 15
(on the rape allegations against three Duke University lacrosse players,
whom he interviewed) and on Oct. 29 (an investigation of an oil refinery
explosion in Texas City, Tex.). On the day that that last segment was
broadcast, he was admitted to Mount Sinai and remained there until his

Though Mr. Bradley had largely concealed his illness, he and his wife,
Patricia Blanchet, had reached out in recent days to some of his closest
friends ‹ including Charlayne Hunter-Gault of National Public Radio (who
traveled to his bedside from her home in South Africa) and the singer Jimmy
Buffett (who rushed to New York to be with him following a concert in

Mr. Buffett said he told Mr. Bradley on Wednesday that ³the Knicks and the
Democrats won,² eliciting a smile from Mr. Bradley, who by that point could
barely speak. Mr. Buffett and Ms. Hunter-Gault were part of a close-knit
circle gathered at Mr. Bradley¹s hospital room at the time of his death.

³This has been a long battle which he fought silently and courageously,² Ms.
Hunter-Gault said. ³He didn¹t want people to know that this was a part of
his struggle. He didn¹t want people feeling sorry for him. And for a good
part of his life, he managed it.²

To generations of television viewers, Mr. Bradley was a sober presence ‹
albeit one with salt-and-pepper stubble and a stud in one ear ‹ whose
reporting for CBS across four decades ranged from the Vietnam War and
Cambodian refugee crisis to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church
and the Columbine High School shooting. His most prominent interviews over
the years included those with Timothy McVeigh and the convicted killer (and
author) Jack Henry Abbott, and with the performers Michael Jackson, Robin
Williams and Lena Horne. He won 19 Emmy awards, according to CBS, including
one for lifetime achievement in 2003.

In the three years since his bypass operation, Mr. Bradley had more than 60
segments broadcast on ³60 Minutes² ‹ more than any other correspondent. ³And
he kept track,² said Jeff Fager, the program¹s executive producer.

But Mr. Bradley¹s life off camera was often as rich and compelling as his
life in the studio. Having begun his broadcast career as a disc jockey in
Philadelphia, Mr. Bradley was an enormous fan of many forms of music ‹
particularly jazz and gospel. He counted the musicians Wynton Marsalis,
Aaron Neville and George Wein among his friends and made regular pilgrimages
to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. At his death, he was also the
host of ³Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio With Ed Bradley,² broadcast weekly on
240 public radio stations.

³I made the mistake once of letting him get onstage with my band, and he
never stopped doing it,² said Mr. Buffett, who was introduced to Mr. Bradley
30 years ago in Key West, Fla., by a mutual friend, Hunter S. Thompson.

Mr. Bradley had many nicknames throughout his life, including Big Daddy,
when he played defensive end and offensive tackle in the 1960s at Cheyney
State College (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania); but his favorite,
Ms. Hunter-Gault and Mr. Buffett said, was Teddy Badly, which Mr. Buffett
bestowed on him onstage the first time Mr. Bradley played tambourine at his

³Everybody in my opinion needs a little Mardi Gras in their life,² Mr.
Buffett said, ³and he liked to have a little more than the average person on

³He was such a great journalist,² Mr. Buffett added, ³but he still knew how
to have a good time.²

Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr. was born June 22, 1941, in Philadelphia. His
father was a businessman and his mother a homemaker. After his parents
divorced, he spent summers with his father at his home in Detroit, said
Marie Dutton Brown, a literary agent and Philadelphia native.

Ms. Dutton Brown said she met Mr. Bradley in the mid-1960s, after he
graduated from Cheyney State with a degree in education, when both worked
for the Philadelphia schools. Mr. Bradley, she said, taught elementary

At the time, she said, his dream was to attend the Annenberg School for
Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. But on the strength of his
work in his other job at the time ‹ at WDAS radio, where he was a news
reporter and host of a jazz show ‹ he was hired as a reporter at WCBS radio
in New York. ³And that was that,² Ms. Dutton Brown said.

In 1971, after four years at WCBS, he joined CBS News, as a stringer in its
Paris bureau. The next year, he was reassigned to the network¹s Saigon
bureau, where he stayed until 1974, when he moved to its Washington office.
Mr. Bradley, who was wounded on assignment in Cambodia, had become a
full-fledged correspondent while in Southeast Asia. In 1975, he volunteered
to return to the region to cover the fall of Saigon.

His reporting on Cambodian refugees, as broadcast on the ³CBS Evening News
With Walter Cronkite² and ³CBS News Sunday Morning,² won a George Polk
Award. After covering Jimmy Carter¹s presidential campaign, he covered the
Carter White House from 1976 to 1978. He was also anchor of the ³CBS Sunday
Night News² from 1976 to 1981.

It was in 1981 that Don Hewitt, the founding executive producer of ³60
Minutes,² hired Mr. Bradley for the program, the most prestigious (and
arguably the most competitive) news magazine on television.

And yet, despite having to jockey for airtime with heavyweights like Mr.
Wallace and Morley Safer, Mr. Bradley stood out ‹ in no small measure
because of the competence and decency he conveyed, said Mr. Fager, a
longtime producer on the program who succeeded Mr. Hewitt last year.

³Not only was he just a natural broadcaster and storyteller, but he was
filled with integrity and credibility, in the way Cronkite was as an
anchorman,² Mr. Fager said yesterday. ³He had no pretensions. He was a
remarkable, likeable, wonderful man you just wanted to be around.²

He also had a wicked sense of humor. At one point, Mr. Fager said, Mr.
Bradley tried to convince Mr. Hewitt that he wished to change his name to
Shahib Shahab, and thus the opening of the ³60 Minutes² broadcast to: ³I¹m
Mike Wallace. I¹m Morley Safer. I¹m Shahib Shahab.²

³He let the gag run for quite some time,² Mr. Fager said. ³Don was quite

Mr. Bradley, who had no children, is survived by Ms. Blanchet, whom he
married two years ago at his home in Aspen, Colo., said Ms. Hunter-Gault.
His two previous marriages, to Diane Jefferson and Priscilla Coolidge, ended
in divorce, Ms. Hunter-Gault said.

For Ms. Hunter-Gault, who left The New York Times for the ³MacNeil/Lehrer
News Hour² on PBS in 1978, Mr. Bradley was more than just someone who helped
clear an early path to national television for herself and other black
journalists ‹ a distinction he shared with, among others, Max Robinson and
Lem Tucker.

³I think people might want to characterize him as a trailblazer for black
journalists,² she said yesterday, by cellphone from outside Mr. Bradley¹s
hospital room just after his death. ³I think he¹d be proud of that. But I
think Ed was a trailblazer for good journalism. Period.²

In the weeks before his final hospitalization, Mr. Bradley had been
scrambling to finish the Duke report in particular, while fending off what
would become the early stages of pneumonia.

³He just kept hitting the road,² Ms. Hunter-Gault said. ³Every time I talked
to him, he was tired. I¹d say, ŒWhy don¹t you go home and rest?¹ He¹d say,
ŒI just want to get this piece done.¹ ²

³He was proud of what he did,² she said. ³But he never allowed that pride to
turn him into a star in his own head.²

³In his own head,² she added, ³he was always Teddy.²

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