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Passing of Joan Braden
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Subject: Real-Life Mother Inspiring TV Show EiE Died
Real-Life Mother Inspiring TV Show EiE Died
Tuesday, 31-Aug-1999 03:18:16
My condolances go out to the Braden Family, the real-life family of ten who
inspired the TV series Eight is Enough.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Joan Braden, a fixture in national
politics for nearly 40 years and the whose life with husband Tom Braden
was the model for the ``Eight is Enough'' television show, has died. She
Authorities say Braden suffered a heart attack Sunday while in
Alexandria, Va., and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Braden served in the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy
and was with Robert F. Kennedy when he was shot and killed at a
California hotel while he was running for president. According to the
Washington Post, she also served as a State Department officer, public
relations executive, magazine writer, television interviewer and aide
and personal secretary to Nelson Rockefeller.
But outside of Washington, Braden's name is probably best known for
the book written by Tom Braden that was turned into a television series
about raising eight children. ``Eight is Enough'' ran from 1977-1981 on
the ABC television network.
Braden was not known as a high-profile host, but still could claim
many important visitors. The Post says former Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger often spent Christmas Eve with the Bradens while Thanksgiving
would find union leader Lane Kirkland on hand for dinner.
She met Tom Braden while both worked for Rockefeller after World War
II. They were married in 1948 and moved to Washington in 1951 when Tom
Braden took a position with the CIA. The Bradens moved to California
after Tom Braden bought a newspaper there.
They returned to Washington and Joan Braden became a television
reporter. In the late 1970s she was named consumer affairs coordinator
for the State Department and in the 1980s she worked for the public
relations firm of Gray and Co.
Braden is survived by her husband and seven children. An eighth child
died in 1994.
What's also grim is the coincidence that this lady passing away is that I'm learning of the death of the mother who was
portrayed by the late Diana Hyland on the second anniversary of Princess Diana's death. :-(
Which one of the Braden children has died?
Editor's Note: It was Tom in the newswire.
How sad. She led a real busy life for a lady with 8 kids. God bless her and her family.
I was saddened to hear about Joan's passing. My thoughts & prayers go out to the family.
Joan Braden Obit Expanded
Thursday, 02-Sep-1999 23:41:41
Joan Braden, 77; mother who
inspired 'Eight Is Enough'
By Eric Pace
NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
September 2, 1999
Joan Braden, a former State Department official who was a hostess and
friend to high-ranking Washington figures and whose eight children inspired
the ABC television series "Eight Is Enough," died Monday in Alexandria, Va.
She was 77.
The cause was a heart attack, The Associated Press reported. Mrs. Braden
collapsed at Sutton Place Gourmet, a food store, and was pronounced dead
at a local hospital.
Mrs. Braden's husband of more than 50 years, Tom Braden, was owner and
publisher from 1954 to 1966 of the former Oceanside Blade-Tribune.
That paper later became the North County Blade-Citizen and merged in
1995 with the Escondido Times Advocate, creating the North County
After selling the newspaper in 1966, Tom Braden ran unsuccessfully for
lieutenant governor of California. The Bradens then moved to the Washington
For two years beginning in 1976, Mrs. Braden was the State Department's
coordinator of consumer affairs and special assistant to the undersecretary for
economic affairs. She also had been an aide to Nelson A. Rockefeller and
had worked in political campaigns for John and Robert Kennedy.
The 1975 book "Eight Is Enough," by her husband, Tom Braden, tells of their
family of eight children. In 1977 the book was adapted as the ABC series,
starring Dick Van Patten, which was broadcast by the network until 1981.
In the book, Braden, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate from
1968 to 1986, described his wife's personality: "She's blithe. That's what it is
about her, and that is why she is so everlastingly cheerful."
By 1976, when Mrs. Braden took up her State Department posts, her friends
included Vice President Rockefeller, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger
and many other powerful figures who would assemble at the Bradens' large
yellow clapboard house in Chevy Chase, Md., a Washington suburb.
According to those who dined there, the food was simple but good, and the
furniture pleasant and necessarily childproof. There were always flowers and
candles and, if the weather was right, a fireplace ablaze. But it was not those
things that made Mrs. Braden's dinner parties special, and her invitations a
Rather, it was said in Washington, the main magnet was Mrs. Braden herself,
a slight woman (5 feet 5 inches tall, admittedly too thin at 103 pounds) with
short auburn hair and a wide smile -- blithe, as her husband said, and
Mrs. Braden herself wrote a book, "Just Enough Rope: An Intimate Memoir"
(1989). Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Maureen Dowd said,
"Joan Braden has taken a lot of heat for this book, which has been criticized
as a vapid kiss-and-sell by a Washington society hostess with the capital's
most notorious 'open' marriage."
"The title refers to the amount of freedom the author has received from her
husband," Dowd wrote. "Washington insiders, however, sniff that it also
alludes to the fact that she has hanged herself with this 'intimate memoir.' "
"This reviewer does not take such a harsh view," Dowd continued, adding
that, after all, how can a book be all bad that features "a shower scene with
Nelson Rockefeller, a bedroom scene with Bobby Kennedy, a toe-tingling
lunch with Kirk Douglas and an account of Frank Sinatra singing 'High Hopes'
without his toupee?"
Mrs. Braden was born Joan Ridley in Indianapolis and was reared in the
nearby town of Anderson and in Washington. She received a bachelor's
degree in economics from Northwestern University and worked in the
Pentagon during World War II.
From 1946 to 1951, she was an assistant to Rockefeller, who was then in the
middle of a succession of federal posts he filled before becoming governor of
New York in 1959. She went on to be a special assistant for public relations
to Oveta Culp Hobby, the Eisenhower administration's secretary of health,
education and welfare.
Later she and her husband moved to California, where Tom Braden -- with
the assistance of a $100,000 loan from Rockefeller, whom he had known for
years -- bought the Blade-Tribune.
Tom Braden sold it in 1966 to South Coast Newspapers for $1.6 million.
Besides her husband, Mrs. Braden's survivors include daughters, Mary Poole
of Alexandria, Joan Ridder of Denver, Susan Zarker of Takoma Park, Md.,
and Nancy and Elizabeth Braden, both of Denver; sons, David of Taiwan,
and Nicholas, of Alexandria; and 12 grandchildren. One of the Bradens' sons,
Tom, died in 1994.
The AP is reporting the death of Joan Braden from a heart attack at age
She was the wife of commentator Tom Braden,whose books about their
having eight children were the jumping-off point for the TV series
Eight Is Enough,which never had that much to do with their real
lives(not helped by the actress who played Joan dying in the first
season,which gave the TV series a stepmother situation never in the
real family's life).Seven of the real children and twelve grandchildren
I recall a story a while back saying Joan had recounted some prominent
Washington figure making a pass at her,but I don't remember who...
Gov. Rockefeller. She told the story in her autobiography about 10 or 15 years ago...
Joan Braden also had a longtime affair with Robert McNamara, the
ex-Defense Secretary. It was made public with the 1989 publication of
her autobiography. I've read that the book went into some detail about
the affair-- although not as much as her book proposal, which was
reportedly a very steamy read! (I think Tom issued a few "no comments"
when asked about it.)
Here's an excerpt from today's New York Times obituary which gives
Mrs. Braden herself wrote a book, "Just Enough Rope: An Intimate
Memoir" (1989). Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Maureen
Dowd said, "Joan Braden has taken a lot of heat for this book, which
has been criticized as a vapid kiss-and-sell by a Washington society
hostess with the capital's most notorious 'open' marriage."
"The title refers to the amount of freedom the author has received
from her husband," Ms. Dowd wrote. "Washington insiders, however,
sniff that it also alludes to the fact that she has hanged herself
with this 'intimate memoir."'
But "this reviewer does not take such a harsh view," Ms. Dowd
continued, adding that, after all, how can a book be all bad that
features "a shower scene with Nelson Rockefeller, a bedroom scene with
Bobby Kennedy, a toe-tingling lunch with Kirk Douglas and an account
of Frank Sinatra singing 'High Hopes' without his toupee?"
Here's an expanded version I found
Joan Braden, 77; mother who
inspired 'Eight Is Enough'
As most people know the show Eight is Enough was based
on Tom Braden's book "Eight is Enough". A good book
btw i read it when i was about 13 (sheesh 20 years
ago). I remember disliking the kids in the book.
Well Joan Braden the model used for the mother on
Eight is Enough died at the age of 77. Although the
mother was only on for one season then replaced. I
believe the actress who played the mother died and
that was the reason for the replacement - anyone
know for sure.
That would be correct, Diana Hyland, I believe, paving
the way for Betty "Memory" Buckley pre-Cats and post-1776
Someone mentioned there are seven children who survived their mother. What
happened to the eighth?
And yes, Diana Hyland who played the original mother in the TV series died
during the first year of the show IIRC. Maybe even before all filming had been
completed for that season. A little trivia: Diana Hyland was dating John
Travolta at the time. I believe he was at her bedside when she died (but I'm
not positive on that point).
: And yes, Diana Hyland who played the original mother in the TV series died
: during the first year of the show IIRC. Maybe even before all filming had
: been completed for that season.
The show was a midseason replacement,she died after the partial season was
filmed and before it was all broadcast or the show picked up for fall.
: A little trivia: Diana Hyland was dating John
: Travolta at the time.
They were engaged,he later wore the suit he had intended to be married in
to an awards ceremony.(Similar to Meryl Streep and John Cazale,successful
younger partner in love with dying middle-aged one).
: I believe he was at her bedside when she died (but I'm
: not positive on that point).
Another newswire mentioned Tom at age 49 or so.
If I'm remembering correctly (which may be questionable) I believe Diana
Hyland was the original mother in Eight is Enough. She had breast cancer
and died very unexpectedly. At the time she was John Travolta's girlfriend
and he was devastated by her death.
Chris in Houston
This item set off an immediate "ping" -- a number of years back there
was a big "tell-all" about Washington that spilled the beans on Joan
Braden as the long-time mistress of one of the big DC players. I think
this was either not long after Tom Braden died -- or just after he had
already left "Crossfire," but I remember thinking it was rather
un-"Eight Is Enough"-like!
Tom Braden is not dead.
I trust the rest of your information is just as reliable.
...I seem to recall that Braden, then a California-based newspaper
columnist, had met Sherwood Schwartz in the late '60s and the subject of
the many kids came up in the resulting conversation; the story I heard was
that this gave Schwartz the inspiration for creating "The Brady Bunch"...
...anyone confirm or deny?...
Diana Hyland was the mother during the first season and she died from
cancer. She was involved with the much-younger John Travolta at the
time. Betty Buckley was the second mom on the show.
I'm glad to know that Tom Braden is still alive -- I always felt he was
the best of the Crossfire "on the Lefts"
but I'm definitely NOT wrong about the other info -- here's a paragraph
from Joan's New York Times obit:
"Mrs. Braden herself wrote a book, "Just Enough Rope: An Intimate
(1989). Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Maureen Dowd said,
"Joan Braden has taken a lot of heat for this book, which has been
criticized as a vapid kiss-and-sell by a Washington society hostess
the capital's most notorious 'open' marriage." "
It's possible that the book I was thinking of was actually Joan's own