Former renter in Greenwich Village, waiting out the turnaround in Manhattan's midtown. Working on a blog-to-book project about my NYC/NJ ancestors. Everyday I'm amazed by what I find with Ancestry and in old newspapers.

October 10, 2022

New York City, 1905: Brady v. Brady divorce trial reveals that husband met actress in hotel rooms

The Circle Hotel w/ Robert Burns Cigars ad, top left

Gertrude Mackenzie
in the "Wizard of Oz"
"Miss Mackenzie lived in a suite of rooms at a Columbus Circle hotel and Mr. Brady called frequently there under the name Mr. Burns," Mr. Ordway said.

In 1903 Gertrude Mackenzie appeared as Prince Charming in the "Wizard of Oz" at the Majestic Theatre, now the site of the Time Warner Center.

"Wizard of Oz" on marquee, 1903

In outlining his case to the jury, Sadie's lawyer Samuel H. Ordway said, "We shall show that during last spring and summer Mr. Brady became cold toward his wife and showed attention to an actress by the name of Gertrude Mackenzie, who has taken parts in small comic operas as a flirt, commonly known as a soubrette."

Called as first witness, a maid in the Brady household testified that Mr. Brady packed up his belongings last August and said, "I'm not going to live in this hell-hole any longer!" 

Brady visited Miss Mackenzie at Reisenweber's Hotel in Columbus Circle, giving his name as Mr. Burns. A boy who used to work at the hotel but employed by Sadie's brother Charles Singer at the time of trial . . .. . . testified that Mr. Brady visited often and went to her room without sending his card.

Reisenweber's Hotel in 1900
Looking south from Columbus Circle down 8th Ave.,
vertical hotel sign at right at 58th St.
courtesy NYPL's Irma and Paul Milstein division

It's likely Brady knew the actress as early as 1900 when he invested $7,000 in "The Cadet Girl," a musical in which she had a small part. He could have met her through his brother, Diamond Jim Brady, a fan of Broadway first-nighters and generous friend to actress Lillian Ross and actors everywhere. Daniel Brady, as president of Brady Brass Manufacturing of railway parts, would have heard of Gertrude's father, Canadian railway man William Mackenzie, owner of the Toronto Street Railway and later knighted as a builder of rail lines in the western prairies.

In 1904 when Miss Mackenzie appeared as the lead in "The Royal Chef" her manager proposed a cut in her salary. Daniel Brady went out to Milwaukee to talk it over, and followed the troupe's travels to Elgin, IL, where he stayed in the same hotel. When counsel asked if the charges that he had immoral relations with Miss Mackenzie were true Brady replied, "Absolutely and unqualifiedly false."

Whenever Sadie thought of 'that woman' in 1912 she tried not to take it out on her husband but sometimes she couldn't help herself. His thoughtlessness had cost her family a fortune in detectives and attorneys' fees.

But that was in the past. The summer social season she had planned for her nephew in Asbury Park was in danger of being ruined, by depressing talk of world events, the Dunes hotel fire down the block that chased away her neighbors, the Guggenheims, and that stupid man who caused the accident at Atlantic Highlands bridge. 


Contact: Debbie Carter, VillagerExpat@aol.com, (212) 925-3721


  1. I'm not certain if the Reisenweber is the same building I remember on that corner circa late 60s-early 70s, but it looks the same height.
    By then the lobby level was mostly occupied by an 'L' shaped Woolworth's with entrances on both 58th Street and also on 8th Ave.
    There was also a cobbler shop and a pizzeria named 'Little Italy.'
    And on the second or third floor was C.K. Kim's Tae Kwan Do school where I took classes 1973-74.
    I lived at 315 W 57th but our lobby extended through to 58th street too. That was my block and I spent many hours in that building whether it was hanging out in Woolworth's, getting pizza at Little Italy, or karate upstairs. Never imagined it was the site of Reisenweber Hotel 70 years earlier.

    1. Thank you for this history. I will look into it further and fix any errors when I write about this again.