Gla­dys Bour­dain, who helped her son, has died at 85


NEW YORK — Gla­dys Bour­dain, a long­time copy ed­i­tor at The New York Times who helped kick­start the writ­ing ca­reer of her son An­thony Bour­dain, the chef who be­came a world-fa­mous mem­oirist and tele­vi­sion host, died Fri­day at a hospice fa­cil­ity in the Bronx. She was 85.

Her son Christo­pher Bour­dain con­firmed the death. He said she had been in fail­ing health for some time.

Gla­dys Bour­dain be­gan her ca­reer at The Times in 1984 and worked there un­til 2008, de­vel­op­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as a strict gram­mar­ian on the cul­ture and metropoli­tan desks. She also wrote for out­lets like Opera News, Mu­si­cal Amer­ica and The Times.

She pro­filed Ju­lia Child for The Times in 1978 af­ter a visit to Child’s home in South­ern France, de­scrib­ing her kitchen as “or­ga­nized clut­ter.”

An­thony Bour­dain be­came a hard-liv­ing chef, and in the late 1990s he wrote an ar­ti­cle chron­i­cling the seamier secrets of life in the restau­rant busi­ness. He was strug­gling to pub­lish it in 1999 when Gla­dys Bour­dain men­tioned to him that she knew a Times re­porter, Es­ther

Fein, who was mar­ried to David Rem­nick, the newly minted ed­i­tor of The New Yorker mag­a­zine.

“She came over, and she said, ‘You know, your hus­band’s got this new job,’ ” Fein (who left The Times in 1999) said Mon­day. “‘I hate to sound like a pushy mom, but I’m telling you this with my ed­i­tor’s hat on, not my mother’s hat on. It’s re­ally good, and it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing, but no­body will look at it, no­body will call him back or give it a sec­ond look. Could you put it in your hus­band’s hands?’”

Fein per­suaded Rem­nick to read the ar­ti­cle, and The New Yorker pub­lished it un­der the ti­tle “Don’t Eat Be­fore Read­ing This.” An­thony Bour­dain later said that he had a book deal in a mat­ter of days af­ter that.

Ex­pand­ing on the ar­ti­cle, he wrote “Kitchen Con­fi­den­tial: Ad­ven­tures in the Culinary Un­der­belly”

(2000), an un­flinch­ing look at the food ser­vice in­dus­try that be­came a No. 1 New York Times best­seller.

The book’s suc­cess pro­pelled An­thony Bour­dain from a brasserie kitchen onto tele­vi­sion, as the host of “No Reser­va­tions” and “Parts Un­known,” on which he trav­eled the world sam­pling dif­fer­ent foods and en­gag­ing with dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

An­thony Bour­dain took his own life in 2018 at 61.

Gla­dys Bour­dain memo­ri­al­ized her son with a tat­too of his name on her wrist — her first and only tat­too.

Gla­dys Sacks­man was born in Man­hat­tan on Oct. 19, 1934, to Martha and Mil­ton Sacks­man. Her fa­ther op­er­ated a small truck­ing com­pany, and her mother was a home­maker.

She grew up in the Univer­sity Heights neigh­bor­hood of the Bronx and at­tended what is now Lehman Col­lege in that bor­ough. She worked for TV Guide, The Record of Ber­gen County, New Jersey, and Agence France-Presse be­fore join­ing The Times.

She mar­ried Pierre Bour­dain in 1954. They sep­a­rated in 1980. Pierre Bour­dain died in 1987. In ad­di­tion to her son Christo­pher Bour­dain, she is sur­vived by three grand­chil­dren.


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