Diamonds are a (very large) guy's best friend

By Mike Hare

Diamond_Jim_Brady.jpgHis eduction was minimal, and his manners unrefined, but in the 1890's Diamond Jim Brady was one of the richest and best-known men in the country. And he and Lillian Russell were a big part of the Saratoga scene.


James Buchanan Brady started out selling railroad equipment. How good a salesman was he? By his 40th birthday, he'd made $10 million. What did he do with it? He bought diamonds. LOTS of diamonds. More than 20,000 diamonds. Brady wore diamond collar buttons, diamond cuff links, diamond belt buckles, diamond neck-tie pins, diamond watch chains, diamond shirt studs and, yes, diamond underwear buttons. His attire earned him the name Diamond Jim.

Diamond Jim wasn't just a flashy guy -- he was a very large flashy guy. His stomach was said to be six times the regular size. He was known to start his dinner with 70 oysters, eat 12 egg souffles or consume as much as 2 pounds of candy at dessert. But Brady didn't smoke or drink alcohol. Freshly-squeezed orange juice was his drink of choice. Friends saw him drink as much as four gallons during a meal.

Diamond Jim's girth didn't prevent him from attracting the ladies. From Broadway in New York City to Broadway in Saratoga Springs, some of the most beautiful were seen on his arm. One of his best known companions was Lillian Russell, who became a star in New York City before she turned 20.

But Diamond Jim's reputation as a ladies man may have been a bit overblown. A friend of his, Berry Wall, hinted that most of Diamond Jim's lady friends never got a look at his flashy underwear. In a memoir, Wall wrote, "The idea that he was on intimate and tender terms with any of them...is much exaggerated. He was much too fat for that."

Mike Hare is the author of Saratoga Lives and a Spa City tour guide.

Comments

I love the Grandpa Munster hair. Hey wait, Al Lewis/Grandpa Munster ran for NY Governor back in like '98. And this site is all about the capital of NY. Well well well, I see there might be a connection. Someone please hand me my magnifying glass so I can investigate this further.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (WTF), from Presidents Day,... (more)

Gawking at the ceiling of the Smith Building

As we've noted before, the Smith Building stands across from the Capitol all buttoned up and dressed for work its quietly tasteful way for work.... (more)

Big downtown residential project approved (again), street ownership intrigue, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million... (more)

Moose spotting

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is doing another aerial survey of the moose population in the Adirondack Park. And, of course, there are... (more)

Morning Blend

Jay Street fire inspection trial Thursday included testimony from former residents of the 104 Jay St apartment building, one who told the court upkeep of... (more)

Recent Comments

The current property has been for sale for nearly 15 years. The owners are getting out of the Bowling business, it's happened all over the region. There's a buyer, and the city must evaluate the opportunity cost doing nothing. ...

The week ahead

...has 1 comment, most recently from Tess

Gawking at the ceiling of the Smith Building

...has 4 comments, most recently from Sean

Big downtown residential project approved (again), street ownership intrigue, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

...has 3 comments, most recently from Ian Benjamin

No one asked, but...

...has 10 comments, most recently from Taylor

Moose spotting

...has 1 comment, most recently from mg