Barbara Cushing Paley, the wife of William S. Paley, the chairman of the board of the Columbia Broadcasting System, died of cancer at their apartment in New York City in July 1978 after a long illness. She was 63 years old.
Mrs. Paley's sense of elegance set a standard for style‐conscious women for three decades. Her approval lent an immediate cachet to almost anything in the world of fashion, beauty and decor, and her appearance at a public event was signal for the kind of attention accorded such women as the Duchess of Windsor and Jacqueline Onassis.
Mrs. Paley was a perennial on the list of the world's best‐dressed women. She was first named in 1941 and subsequently appeared 14 times, 13 in the top position. She was named to fashion's Hall of Fame in 1958.
Mrs. Paley, known to friends as Babs or Babe, was born on July 5, 1915, the youngest of three daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Harvey J. Cushing of Boston. Dr. Cushing was an internationally renowned brain specialist.
She attended the Winsor School in Boston and the Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., and was presented to society in Boston in 1934. Three of President Roosevelt's sons — Franklin Jr., James and John — were among the ushers at the debut. James Roosevelt was at the time married to her sister, Betsy, now Mrs. John Hay Whitney.
Barbara Cushing worked as a fashion editor at Vogue magazine for almost two years before her marriage, in September 1940 to Stanley G. Mortimer Jr. of New York. Her association with Vogue continued until 1947, with absences for the birth of a son and a daughter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1946.
Her second marriage took place in July 28, 1947, only days after Mr. Paley's Reno divorce from his first wife, now Dorothy Hirshon, to whom he reportedly gave a $1.5 million settlement.
Mrs. Paley was an honorary life trustee of the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where she and her husband had a home for many years. She was a trustee of the Museum of Broadcasting, the William S. Paley Foundation, the Greenpark Foundation, which owns and operates Paley Park, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Human Resources Center, a rehabilitation and educational facility for the handicapped in Albertson, L.I.
Mrs. Paley is survived by her husband; their son, William Cushing Paley, and daughter, Kate Cushing Paley; her son and daughter by her first marriage, Stanley G. Mortimer 3d and Amanda Mortimer Burden, the former wife of City Councilman Carter Burden; her sisters, Betsy (Mrs. John Hay Whitney) and Mary (formerly Mrs. Vincent Astor, now Mrs. James Fosburgh) and a brother, Henry K. Cushing.
She also leaves a stepson, Jeffrey Paley, and a stepdaughter, Mrs. J. Frederic Byers 3d, children of Mr. Paley by a previous marriage, and four grandchildren.