Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Life: Sallie Brady, 1965 - 2013

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Life: Sallie Brady, 1965 - 2013

Article excerpt

Sallie Brady, a magazine writer who died recently in a Ramsey house fire, once piqued Hollywood's interest with her single-girl tale of trying to snag a congressman. Although her orbit was the hectic New York publishing world -- she planned to be in London this month on assignment for Art & Antiques magazine -- the 47-year-old widow relished the quiet life in Bergen County, riding horses and taking strolls with her toy poodle, Theodore.

For a few months in 1995, the journalist known then as Sallie Motsch traveled in a decidedly glitzier circle.

Freelancing for Washingtonian magazine, Sallie set out to land dates with all the bachelors in the House of Representatives' freshman class. Her goal? Finding a "member of the House who was looking for a home."

The only unmarried Democratic freshman, Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, said no thanks, but five Republicans were game, including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, now a powerful senator.

"He doesn't look like a congressman," Sallie wrote. "Where's the self-conscious poise? Standing about 5 foot 8, he has ivory skin, pale blue eyes, and graying brown hair. His plain face transforms when he smiles. You might not notice this man in a crowd until he opens his mouth. Graham's tongue is fast and bold."

After lunch at a barbecue joint, Graham invited Sallie to see the Capitol Hill town house he shared with another lawmaker. Sallie made note of the Cheerios box and half-eaten loaf of Pepperidge Farm whole-wheat bread on the kitchen counter.

"I'd take you upstairs," the congressman said, "but there's a lot of underwear on the floor."

The 9,000-word opus, titled "How to Date a Congressman," caused a sensation, even if Sallie's dates failed to lead to a relationship. She signed a deal with movie studio 20th Century Fox for the rights to the story. Jennifer Aniston was being talked about as the star. But the story never reached the screen. The Monica Lewinsky sex scandal was breaking and the timing just wasn't right, said Sallie's mother, Susan Motsch.

Sallie, who had studied journalism at Northwestern University, took the disappointment in stride.

"She never expressed any kind of sadness or regret that it wasn't made into a film," said Kevin Doyle, a close pal since college. "She may have felt it, but she was just grateful the story generated the interest it did."

Sallie Brady was remembered as an effervescent woman always up for adventure -- "a force of nature," in Doyle's words. Her arts, antiques and travel writing took her to Moscow and Maui and seemingly everywhere in between. She died of smoke inhalation in a May 29 fire that Ramsey authorities say was caused by a faulty dishwasher. Her poodle survived and is in the care of neighbors.

James Brady, Sallie's husband of 14 years, died 16 months ago. The two had met at a midtown Manhattan saloon popular with the publishing crowd. …

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