When the original British “Antiques Roadshow” first aired, Tuscaloosan Gray Davis Boone had already been feted in national publications from The New York Times to The Washington Post to People magazine, as “antique queen of America,” and “The First Lady of Antiques,” for the cover of Delta Airlines Sky magazine.
The antique jewelry dealer, preservationist and publisher was ahead of the curve anticipating public interest in valuable culture, beating the BBC to it by more than a decade. She founded Antique Quarterly in 1967; within 18 months, it was successful enough to bump up to Antique Monthly.
“I became a publisher,” she told People magazine in a 1979 feature, “because nobody was telling me what I really wanted to know about antiques: where the shows were, where the auctions were, where the action was.”
Martha Gray Davis Boone, age 78, who died Thursday at Hospice of West Alabama, built both Antique Monthly and Horizon — an arts publication she acquired from Englehart Hanovia’s American Heritage Publishing Company in 1978 — into going concerns operating out downtown Tuscaloosa’s Jemison Van de Graff mansion, rather than the pricey metropolitan digs of other publishers.
The 100,000-circulation Horizon boasted a 16-member advisory board with members ranging from legendary University of Alabama coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant” to choreographer Agnes de Mille to filmmaker Stanley Kramer. Its illustrious contributors included Ray Bradbury, Alan Rich, Lanford Wilson, Brendan Gill and Robert Joffrey. Famed caricaturist Al Hirschfeld created the October 1981 Horizon cover, an illustration of Stephen Sondheim with his producer Harold Prince, in an issue that also featured how 17th century Dutch painters depicted nature, a dissection of the tale behind Meryl Streep, Harold Pinter and the film adaptation of “The French Lieutenant’s Women,” and an interview with folk singer and activist Pete Seeger. Nonagenarian Georgia…