Bert Padell, a noted entertainment industry accountant and business manager whose client list ranged from Joe DiMaggio, Robert De Niro, Faye Dunaway and Jackie Mason to a roll call of rock, pop and hip-hop stars, including Madonna, Notorious B.I.G., Run-D.M.C., Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Blondie, Talking Heads, Rakim, The Kinks and Pink Floyd, died on Sunday, Jan. 21 at the age of 84.
“I can only hope that you can meet one man throughout your life that is half the man Bert is, a man for whom the word friend was made,” said manager Shep Gordon, whose clients Alice Cooper and Luther Vandross had their business affairs handled by Padell.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Padell was 14 when he landed a gig as a batboy for the New York Yankees after writing a series of letters to the manager and refusing to take no for an answer. During this time, he befriended Joe DiMaggio (who later became a client), Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra during the golden years of 1949 and 1950. It was then that he began collecting – baseballs, bats, contracts and signatures that would one day grace the incredible display at his offices on 1775 Broadway at W. 56th St., including baseball memorabilia, gold records, photos and letters documenting his impressive career.
Padell’s desk was always covered by a large piece of blotter paper listing hundreds of phone numbers, greeting most with a “hey babes,” one of his many favorite sayings.
Padell was a business manager for a who’s who of rock legends over a half-century. He made a point to encourage newcomers, teaching business management classes at the New School for 25 years, donating every paycheck to Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. He wrote seven books of poetry and was a devoted baker (blueberry cheesecake was his favorite). He never smoked, drank or even had a morning cup of coffee.
Biggie Smalls immortalized Padell in 112’s “Only You,” rapping, “Room 112, where the players dwell. And, stash more cash than Bert Padell.”
His granddaughter Jamie Padell remembers, “Everyone who knew him expected to be woken up on their birthday every year, before dusk, to him singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in his opera voice. He will be remembered for his words of encouragement, generosity, eclectic personality, loud Versace shirts, and big heart. His motto was, ‘Find something you love to do and do it forever.’”
Wrote veteran entertainment barrister and author Freddie Gershon, a longtime friend: “Bert did not see the world as numbers. He did not see his clientele as clients. He saw them as human beings with frailties, insecurities, anxieties, needs… He was their knight, their shepherd, their psychologist/psychiatrist/daddy/uncle and frequently their banker.”
Padell is survived by his wife of 60 years, Bobby, his daughter Ellie Padell Levin and son Scott, and four grandchildren.
The family held a memorial dinner last week at Tribeca Grill, one of Padell’s favorite haunts.