Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee Facts & Worksheets

Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee facts and information activity worksheet pack and fact file. Includes 5 activities aimed at students 11-14 years old (KS3) & 5 activities aimed at students 14-16 year old (GCSE). Great for home study or to use within the classroom environment.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Life and Death of Tony Pinchot Bradlee
  • Personal Life of Tony Pinchot Bradlee
  • The Murder of Tony Bradlee’s Sister–Mary Pinchot Meyer

KEY FACTS AND INFORMATION

Let’s know more about Tony Pinchot Bradlee!

  • Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee was the wife of Washington Post executive editor, Ben Bradlee. She lived a glamorous life. She worked at Vogue, became an artist and jeweller, became one of Jacqueline Kennedy’s best friends, and held elegant parties with the most prominent intellectuals of the 1960s in attendance.
  • Tony and Ben’s lives may have been glamorous but still they divorced because of their differences and dedication to their jobs. Tony died at the age of 87 after suffering from dementia. Though not much information about Tony is readily available, aside from Ben Bradlee, her name is also attached to her sister Mary Pinchot Meyer whose death remains an unresolved mystery to this date.

Life and Death of Tony Pinchot Bradlee

  • Not much information regarding Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee (also known as Tony) is readily available.
  • Rather, her name is tied to two other people: her ex-husband Ben Bradlee (who was the executive editor of the Washington Post), and her sister, Mary Pinchot Meyer (who was the wife of CIA officer Cord Meyer and alleged mistress of President Kennedy).
  • Tony carried out her studies in Art at the Corcoran School in Washington, and subsequently graduated in New York at the Brearley School, and the Vassar College (Bernstein 2011).
  • Nina Burleigh, author of A Very Private Woman (1998) points out that unlike her sister Mary, Tony was a very reserved and quiet woman who had an incredible taste for clothes. She is described as ‘more restrained and formal than her older sister’.
  • Tony was an ‘ethereal’ (Burleigh 1998), graceful, pretty, blonde, and slender woman. Many defined her as charming.
  • Thanks to her natural charm and elegance she started working for Vogue magazine.
  • She also became close to Jacqueline Kennedy because of her personality.
  • The ‘unhappy’ and ‘lonely’ Jacqueline Kennedy explicitly asked Tony in a ‘plaintive’ tone to be her best friend (Harberstan 1979).
  • In his book Conversations with Kennedy (1975), Ben Bradlee noted a discussion that went on between Jacqueline and J.F.K. in front of them, in which Jaqueline told her husband, ‘Oh Jack, you know you always say that Tony is your ideal’ (Halberstan 1979).
  • After J.F.K.’s assassination, Tony stayed with Jacqueline Kennedy in Virginia, where they endured ‘a couple of “emotional weekends”’ (Remnick 1995).
  • In 1972, Tony Pinchot managed to have her own exhibition at Jefferson Place Gallery.
  • Art critic Paul Richard gave his opinion of Pinchot’s artwork and claimed that: “What makes these works remarkable is not the hardness of their shells, but the delicacies of their interiors…These pieces do not yell, they do not gobble space. Their shapes are generally simple — spheres, columnar pods, and discs — but each shape has an opening, a window, and there is nothing simple about what goes on inside” (Bernstein 2011; citing Richard).
  • During her last years, Tony Pinchot Bradlee was affected by dementia. She died on November 9, 2011, at the age of 87.

Personal Life of Tony Pinchot Bradlee

  • During her work at Vogue magazine, she was married to Steuart L. Pittman, a lawyer.
  • In 1954, when Tony met journalist Benjamin C. Bradlee in Paris, she was still married to Pittman.
  • At the time she was travelling across Europe with her sister, and Bradlee ‘was the chief European correspondent for Newsweek’ (Bernstein 2011).
  • Tony and Mary defined their Europe holiday as a ‘husband-dumping trip’ (DiEugenio 2015).
  • Whilst in Paris, Ben and Tony spent time together in sophisticated environments.
  • In fact, according to DiEugenio (2015), Ben Bradlee ‘lived in the style of the old French aristocracy’.
  • He rented a fabulous castle with a swimming pool and a pond.
  • Since the castle had sixty-five rooms and two ballrooms, the couple hosted upper-class parties (DiEugenio 2015; citing Himmelman).
  • Two years later, after having divorced from their respective partners, the two got married and moved to Washington.
  • Even when they returned to the States, the couple’s life was glamorous.
  • They attended private dinners at the White House and also had an intimate friendship with the Kennedys.

  • Moreover, Tony and Ben would organise parties and dinners in their home on 3325 N Street (neighbouring the Kennedys).
  • The attendees were some of the most prominent politicians, ‘intellectuals, and journalists’ (Heymann 2003: 60).
  • The mood of the 1960s was very evident during their parties as they ‘danced to rock-and-roll records while feasting on beer and pizza’ (Heymann 2003: 60).
  • Notwithstanding the good times spent together, the couple broke apart because of their differing characters and interests. In 1965, Ben Bradlee became the chief executive editor of the Washington Post, whereas Tony was ‘seeking spiritual fulfilment through her artwork and Gurdjieff’ (Bernstein 2011).
  • Tony had six children. From her first marriage (1947-1955), Andrew Pittman, Nancy Pittman, Rosamond Casey Pittman, and Tamara Pittman were born; whereas from her second marriage (1947-1955), were Dominic Bradlee and Marina Murdock Bradlee (Bernstein 2011).

The Murder of Tony’s Sister—Mary Pinchot Meyer

  • In Nina Burleigh’s book, Mary Meyer is described as a wild, complicated, mysterious woman, who highly valued her independence and ‘personal authority’.

  • She was an artist who had received a good education, and was an attractive lady surrounded by luxury (1998).
  • However, it is also possible that in the man-made society she lived in, Tony’s sister suffered from undiagnosed depression and loneliness.
  • In fact, growing up, she witnessed a suicide within her family and her marital life with Cord Meyer, a CIA agent, had proved incredibly difficult until their divorce (Burleigh 1998).
  • Mary enjoyed being a seductress.
  • She was fascinated by anything glamorous and dramatic.
  • One of the men she knew also claimed that Mary ‘reminded him of a cat walking on a rooftop in the moonlight’ (Burleigh 1998).
  • Essentially, her charm allowed her to become one of the White House insiders.
  • Thanks to her connections to the CIA, Meyer was able to meet President Kennedy (J.F.K.) and his wife Jackie.
  • F.K. and Mary’s alleged love affair started in 1960 and ended in 1963, the year of his death.
  • The President wrote a letter that somehow never reached Meyer.
  • In that letter, he begged her to go visit him (such visits would usually occur when Jackie was away).
  • The letter says: “I know it is unwise, irrational, and that you may hate it — on the other hand you may not — and I will love it. You say that it is good for me not to get what I want. After all of these years — you should give me a more loving answer than that. Why don’t you just say yes” (Norman 2018).
  • Moreover, it is speculated that Meyer also introduced drugs such as LSD and marijuana into the White House (Norman 2018).
  • When J.F.K. was shot, Meyer had already interrupted her rendezvous with the President.
  • Her sister, Tony, noticed that Mary did not seem shocked by his death (perhaps because she had already been warned to keep her distance).
  • The following year, on October 12, 1964, Mary Meyer was attacked and shot whilst she was walking along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath.
  • Some believe that the murder of Mary Meyer was part of a ‘government-silencing conspiracy’ (Norman 2018).
  • However, it is necessary to note that Meyer had strong opinions about foreign policy, and – since she had been married to a CIA agent – she possessed much knowledge of sensitive events.
  • In fact, it would not be a surprise to discover that Washington D.C.’s national security viewed Meyer and her private conversations with the President as a threat (Norman 2018).
  • The night after Mary was murdered, Ben and Tony received a call from Japan.
  • Anne Truitt had been one of Mary’s best friends, and she advised the couple to retrieve Mary’s diary before the FBI laid its hands on it in order to make it public (Burleigh 1998).
  • In fact, it is likely that her diary contained much information that would have enlightened the situation, revealing details of her relationship with President Kennedy, as well as her hopes and fears (Norman 2018).
  • Once the diary was confiscated by James Angleton (one of Mary’s friends and head of the CIA), it was immediately destroyed (Norman 2018).

Image sources:

  1. https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/11/15/Obituaries/Images/noname.jpg?t=20170517
  2. http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/5367/tonypinchotbradlee9.jpg
  3. https://allthatsinteresting.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/mary-pinchot-meyer-1942.jpg