Miami-Dade County

Fans say farewell to celebrity skin doctor Fredric Brandt

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Miami’s skin doctor to the stars got a farewell from adoring fans and patients Sunday who lauded the dermatologist for his friendship and his skill.

Fredric Brandt, who was suffering from depression, was found dead last week at his Coconut Grove home of apparent suicide at age 65. According to some reports, Brandt also was “devastated” over comparisons to the character played by Martin Short on a Netflix show.

He was best known for his painstaking cosmetic artistry, a celebrity client list that included Madonna, and long waits at his Coral Gables office.

At a service at Temple Israel in Miami, Rachel Levy said this was the first time in their 25 years of friendship that Brandt had to wait for her.

“His offices were always full of people waiting,” she said. “This is the only time he is waiting for people to come.”

At Sunday’s service, admirers described a brilliant doctor with an exemplary bedside manner — singing show tunes and making them laugh even when he told them to frown as he injected Botox to smooth their wrinkles.

The cosmetology world knew Brandt as the “Baron of Botox,” but his friends and family knew him as Fred or Freddie.

Abound 300 people attended Sunday’s service, many teetering in very high heels and carrying designer purses.

Jaquie Tractenberg, the doctor’s publicist for the last 20 years, said it felt like everyone in Miami knew Brandt, from the “ladies who lunched to the ladies who didn’t lunch at all.”

“He never drank, but he was the life of the party,” she said.

Tractenberg spoke of a man who “vibrated with energy” who would make prank phones using Joan Crawford’s voice, and who attended Yom Kippur services in a Givenchy kilt.

He also was portrayed as a devoted friend who would text thoughtful messages, and someone who was deeply spiritual.

But there were also indications of a darker side — a man tortured by grief.

“The pact of suicide is a mysterious one and Fred was certainly an enigma,” Tractenberg said.

Other friends and colleagues read the lyrics of show tunes from Wicked and poems such as Maya Angelou’s “When Great Trees Fall.” One of Brandt’s nephews read a eulogy on behalf of the doctor’s only brother, Paul, who fondly recalled their childhood antics at their parent’s candy store in Newark, New Jersey.

He said that his younger brother had shown a quick-witted intelligence from a young age.

“Freddie strived to reach the top in everything he did academically,” Paul said.

Like his brother, Brandt attended Rutgers University. He went on to receive his medical degree from Drexel University and then opened his South Florida dermatology practice in 1982.

Nephew Michael Brandt remembered a generous and fun Brandt., although he saw him infrequently.

While in the second grade, he said he was assigned homework to write to someone who lived far away. Never having met his uncle, he chose to write to him, which then opened communication again between his father and his uncle.

“My uncle was a sweet and caring man,” he said.

Later in life, Brandt had given Michael money for a film project, which never developed. Embarrassed, Michael stopped contacting Brandt.

At the end of his eulogy, he referenced Brandt’s “identity issues,” then shared his own various struggles and his sister’s hospitalization.

“I could relate to what my uncle was going through,” he said.

Temple Israel Rabbi Tom Heyn asked mourners to think about the way Brandt lived as they paid their respects.

“We think about the journey he was on,” Heyn said.

Friend Rachel Levy said as she left the funeral, she was still in shock. Brandt had just texted her the week before his death, concerned about a recent family issue of hers.

“I just want to make sure you are alright, sending you my love,” he wrote to her.

“He was so loyal, very loyal,” Levy said. “As loyal as they come.”

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