Friends remember legendary sportswoman and socialite Anita Madden

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- The love is pouring in today from people around the world, sharing their memories of legendary sportswoman and socialite Anita Madden who died Thursday at the age of 85.

For close to 40 years the place to be the night before the Kentucky Derby was at Anita Madden’s infamous party.

“The parties were fun and celebrities came in and nothing else was like it at that time,” said Kenny Rice.

Rice along with Sky Yancey covered the party for ABC 36 for years.

“People still come up to me sometimes 20 some years removed from doing one of those parties that we used to have on channel 36 and they ask about that and what it was like,” said Rice.

Through all the glitter and glam Rice says Madden stood out.

“You knew who she was. There was no mistake it was Anita Madden,” said Rice.

“She was the best party thrower for that time of year,” said Bill Torsell.

Bill Torsell worked as a bartender at a handful of Madden’s parties in the 90’s.

“I have two, about three of those costumes yeah. Cause there wasn’t much to them,” said Torsell.

But behind the party was the work Madden was doing for people here in the community.

“You know the boys ranch is where all the money, you know, from the parties went to,” said Torsell.

Madden helped raise thousands of dollars for countless charities including those for aids research and social justice.

“Really just a good Kentucky girl who cared about her fellow man,” said Arthur Hancock, a close friend of Madden’s.

While her parties were memorable to all who attended, it’s Madden’s humanity people say will be her greatest legacy.

“Even those that never met her felt they knew her I think because of that, because of the things that people would say about her. You know I met Ms. Madden when I was parking cars or I met Ms. Madden and I was helping wait tables and she was so gracious to me. I think that’s the thing that most people will remember most. That’s what I will,” said Rice.

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