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Ethel Bradley dead at 89

November 25, 2008 |  5:18 pm

Ethel and Tom Bradley Ethel Bradley, the wife of the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, died at age 89, according to a statement by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"Today all of Los Angeles mourns the passing of its long-time, revered First Lady, Ethel Bradley," the mayor said. "She served the city of Los Angeles with dignity and class throughout her life and we will remember her as a woman of grace, with a supreme commitment to her family, a tireless community spirit and the Dodgers' biggest fan."

While her husband oversaw Los Angeles, she avoided the political spotlight that made him thrive. She held teas, rooted for the Dodgers from her permanent seat behind home plate at Dodger Stadium and took pride in cultivating a garden showcase at the mayoral mansion in Windsor Square.

Asked by a Times reporter in 1992 about his wife’s low profile, the mayor responded: “Her feeling is she has given her husband to public service. That doesn’t mean that she now has to give herself.” Family and friends portrayed her as the reclusive, yet honest and direct, woman behind a man known for working 17-hour days.

Ethel Mae Arnold was born in Texas in 1919, one of eight children of Benjamin and Lucille Arnold. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1930. At 15, she graduated from Jefferson High School then attended Los Angeles City College for two years. She worked as a part-time model and part-time singer, once dubbing a song for the hit movie "Vogues of 1938," which was released in 1937.

The Times' Valerie J. Nelson will have a full obit soon.

Photo: Ethel Bradley stands alongside her husband as he takes the mayoral oath of office in 1973.  Los Angeles Times staff photo.