07 April 2009

RIP: Tom Braden

Thomas Wardell Braden
22 Feb 1917 – 3 Apr 2009

ZUI this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Tom Braden, a former CIA operative who became a syndicated newspaper columnist, liberal co-host of the CNN talk show "Crossfire" and author of "Eight Is Enough," a 1975 memoir that spawned the popular television series, died of natural causes Friday at his Denver home, his family said. He was 92.

Braden was the father of eight children whose misadventures provided amusing grist for many of his newspaper columns and led to the ABC comedy-drama "Eight Is Enough," which aired from 1977 to 1981 and starred Dick Van Patten as Tom Bradford, a Sacramento columnist with a brood of children ages 8 to 23.

But Braden was also prominent as one of the original co-hosts of "Crossfire," the topical show that made its debut in 1982 and pitted him against former Nixon aide and political commentator Pat Buchanan.


Braden was born in Greene, Iowa, on Feb. 22, 1917. His father worked a variety of jobs, including at a tie store and a bank. His mother was a writer for American Mercury, the magazine founded by H.L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan.


In 1941, he went to England and was among a small group of Americans who enlisted in the King's Royal Rifle Corps in the British Army to fight in World War II. He later joined the U.S. Army and shifted to intelligence work for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA.

With Stewart Alsop, the columnist and political analyst who had also fought with the British Army and joined the OSS, Braden wrote the book "Sub Rosa: The OSS and American Espionage" (1946).

After the war, he taught for a few years at Dartmouth, where he met poet Robert Frost, who encouraged him to pursue journalism. But in 1950 he joined the CIA and worked for Allen Dulles, who became CIA director in 1953.


["Eight Is Enough"] didn't sell well at first, despite the many entertaining tales Braden told, such as when one son was arrested on marijuana charges and when a daughter's pet boa constrictor went missing. He also told of the time the family's lamb nuzzled up against a famous dinner guest, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

Braden's wife died in 1999. His son Tommy, the seventh of his eight children, died in 1994. His surviving children are David Braden of Taipei, Taiwan; Mary Poole of Alexandria, Va.; Susan Braden of Takoma Park, Md.; Joannie Braden, Nancy Basta and Elizabeth Braden, all of Denver; and Nicholas Braden of Washington, D.C. He also leaves 12 grandchildren.

Can't remember if I actually read Eight Is Enough, but I did enjoy the TV series - which had little to do with Braden's book beyond the number and names of the children.

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