I just learned that Anthony Bourdain’s brother Chris has announced the death of their 85-year-old mother Gladys on Friday, January 10, 2020, in hospice in the Bronx. The New York Times just reported it this afternoon.
(If you’re not an NYT subscriber, you may be able to open a free account to get to the article. That’s how I got all the NYT links in this post.)
Chris said Gladys had been in failing health for some time.
She worked at the NYT as an editor from 1984 to 2008, and wrote articles for it and other publications on the side. Back in 1978, she had a profile of Julia Child published in the NYT after visiting Child in Southern France. That was the year Tony graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, but I don’t know if he accompanied his parents on that trip to France, possibly as a graduation present?
Her obituary credits Gladys as the force behind Tony getting the career-launching article published in The New Yorker that led to his book deal for Kitchen Confidential. She happened to know the wife of The New Yorker’s new editor, who had been an NYT reporter, and Gladys vouched that Tony’s work was good enough for the woman to show to her husband.
The article was published and the rest, as they say, is history.
Gladys was born in 1934 and married Pierre Bourdain in 1954, a year after he got out of the Army. Tony was born in 1956.
Gladys’ obituary says she separated from Pierre in 1980 (Tony would have been about 24). Whether they ever divorced, I don’t know.
When Pierre died in 1987 at age 57, his obituary made no mention of Gladys.
Gladys died with Tony’s name tattooed on her wrist — her only tat.
Now for the happy news…
Minutes before I saw the sad news about Gladys, I read that that Bourdain’s co-author Laurie Woolever has finished one of the books they were working on before he died. It’s called World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, and will go on sale October 13. It’s available for preorder on Amazon.