Laurie Brady, Chicago’s ‘astrologer to the stars,’ dead at 86
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Born under the sign of Cancer, Mars on the ascendant, Laurie Brady made national news in the 1970s when Major League Baseball’s Charlie O. Finley hired her to be the official astrologer for his team, the Oakland A’s.
Billing herself as the “astrologer to the stars,” she also claimed John Wayne and first lady Betty Ford among her roster of famous clients and wrote a long-running column for the supermarket tabloid the Star.
She was a savvy entrepreneur at a time when society often cast women in the roles of mothers and homemakers or members of what used to be called the secretarial pool.
“I’m a businesswoman first and an astrologer second,” Ms. Brady said in 1976. “I don’t do seances. I have business hours.”
Ms. Brady was also a natural self-promoter whose red hair and stunning figure were often remarked upon in less politically correct times. Male interviewers noted her 36-26-37 figure and dubbed her the “Heavenly Body.”
Her horoscopes and interviews often involved celebrity couplings, with headlines like “Laurie Brady Predicts Romance for Jackie.”
She also had an eye for real estate, investing in Chicago’s Gaslight Club, according to a friend, Elizabeth Appelbaum. The club, created in the 1950s, was a forerunner of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club. With scantily clad waitresses and a Tiffany lamp-illuminated Gilded Age atmosphere, the Gaslight grew into a successful national chain for a time.
Ms. Brady, 86, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died March 21 at her Lake Point Tower condo, the home, decorated with a mammoth wheel of Zodiac signs, where she’d lived for decades.
Young Laurie grew up in downstate Ottawa. As a teenager, she joined the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a contemplative order that valued prayer and quiet reflection. She lasted 21 months before leaving to study psychology at Bradley University, she said in a 1988 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.
Then, Chicago — “a Pisces city with Leo rising,” according to Ms. Brady — beckoned. Ms. Brady planned to write a book to debunk astrologers, she said in the 1988 interview, but found the forecasts she did herself turned out to be so accurate she decided it was her fate to be an astrologer.
Her reputation grew with a radio show and columns in Chicago Today, the Star and Soap Opera Digest.
To ensure the planets were auspiciously aligned, Ronald Reagan followed her suggestion on the timing of his 1967 inauguration as California governor, she told the Sun-Times. She said clients who had her on retainer included chanteuse Peggy Lee, actors James Caan and Ernest Borgnine and singer Robert Goulet. Betty Ford asked for astrological advice regarding President Ford, Ms. Brady said in a 1988 interview with People magazine.
“When Ray Kroc was alive, I did astrology for McDonald’s,” she said.
She drew Finley’s attention “by accurately predicting the five consecutive division titles [for the A’s] between 1971 and 1975,” according to the book “The New Biographical History of Baseball.” Finley hired her to send analysis and prognostications to team manager Chuck Tanner.
“I made a chart for each of the players, when their energy levels are high, what days they will play better than others and when they are more susceptible to having accidents and making errors,” she told an interviewer.
By 1986, she was charging $75 for an hourly reading, Ebony magazine reported. By 2001, her fee was double that.
Ms. Brady said she could foretell her own misfortunes, too. In 1970, she reported a burglary in which she lost an estimated $225,000 in furs, jewelry and cash. She told a reporter her charts had predicted she was being watched and might be the victim of a robbery.
“She even rented a safe deposit box,” UPI reported. “But she said she didn’t have time to put her jewels in the safety box” before the thieves struck.
Ms. Brady contributed to children’s medical research and supported the Alzheimer’s Association, organizer of the annual Rita Hayworth Gala.
She didn’t cook, preferring to dine at the Pump Room. She also enjoyed going out to hear singers Nan Mason and Denise Tomasello.
Ms. Brady owned at least 100 pairs of shoes, many of them high-heeled. She also had a sheared-beaver coat with a dyed overlay of astrological signs, according to another friend, Hilary Eldridge.
She was married briefly to a lawyer but, after divorcing, didn’t marry again, Appelbaum said.
At her service, Ms. Brady’s holy cards were imprinted this way: “Returned to the Stars.”