RAGS TO RICHES --- A TALENTED LADY ATTRACTS a GREAT MAN FOR A HUSBAND and a GREAT ROMANCE
Clare Boothe Luce was born Ann Clare Boothe, the illegitimate child of Vaudeville dancer Anna Snyder and fiddler, William Franklin Boothe. Although her father deserted the family when Clare was 9, he instilled in his daughter a love of music and literature. Parts of her childhood were spent in Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; and, with her mother, in France.
Boothe attended schools in Garden City and Tarrytown, New York, graduating in 1919. Her original ambition was to become an actress. She understudied Mary Pickford on Broadway at age 10, then briefly attended a school of the theater in New York City. While on a European tour with her mother and stepfather, Dr. Albert E. Austin, Boothe became interested in the Women's suffrage movement. (We see her mother married well, Clare was intellectual and radical. not a dullard.)
Back in NYC, Boothe got lucky, herself. She married the EXTREMELY WEALTHY and high profile George Tuttle Brokaw, heir to a New York clothing fortune, on August 10, 1923, at the age of 20. He was much older. They had one daughter, Ann Clare Brokaw born Apr 21, 1926. According to Boothe, Brokaw was an alcoholic, and the marriage ended in divorce in 1929. She received a half million dollars, worth much more then. She was relieved to be out of the marriage and her good humor and wit soon returned. Seeing this photo, you realize she had wit. Comedic talents. Not feeling she was a raving beauty, she cultivated a 'genuine' persona. OK. So follow along with us. Now she is sitting on a half million dollars, that gives a girl freedom from the LANDLORD. She now had leisure time and she used it! She went to WORK! Got a job. No choosing leisure at all! With her wealth, wardrobe, great apartment, the name MRS BROKAW, she could have her pick of jobs and social sets. She became a journalist at Vanity Fair and some other big NYC magazines. She was a chic, elegant, kind, simple, humble woman but NOT A BEAUTY. She was known for refinement, brains, charm and --LUCK!
So far ...so lucky ---but now she outdid herself. At all the BIG NYC parties, she continually bumped into the top KINGMAKER of the planet, HENRY R. LUCE, Chairman and founder of TIME magazine. The second meeting at a party, she sat him down and gave him an audacious suggestion that while TIME MAG was lovely that he really should make a MAGAZINE more like VUE from Paris, lots of pictures. She described the way it would look, its sound , its language, its text --while he listened. He did not seem receptive. Maybe she assumed that he had assumed she was seeking a new post as Luce gave the distaff argument, why he shouldn't do that kind of a magazine, but she really had a gift for understanding magazines. Now, soon enough he would go and create the magazine that Clare described so she is the unofficial MOTHER OF LIFE MAGAZINE. (You may be too young to remember it so go to a library and get a hardcover BOOK on LIFE AND LUCE. OR get one at abebooks.)
HIS OWN was http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/books/review/Keller-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
He took her suggestion. However, as she talked to him she saw that he seemed cold, disinterested. He must have asked someone about her and I wonder how much he heard. The third time they bumped into one another, Luce was plowing across a nightclub with two full champagne glasses, she stood in front of him. "I hope one of those is for me", she said. He gave her a glass. At that point, fate stepped in. The lights went down, the show was starting and they had to sit down at a table. They talked all night long in spite of the fact his wife was somewhere in the club. His last words were that she was the only woman in his life and he asked to be able to visit her at her apartment a day later. That afternoon, he announced to her that he was going to marry her. She was surprised and fled on a long trip to the Caribbean, probably driving him wild, maybe to incite his doing something about his wife, maybe she knew he was divorcing and it was to avoid scandal. While she was gone, he divorced his wife! Mother of his two children. November 23, 1935, Boothe married Henry Robinson Luce, the wealthy and influential publisher of Time, Life and Fortune magazines and later Sports Illustrated and they spent their lives together.
The Luces were well-acquainted with other members of New York society and Clare especially was a close personal friend of actress Dorothy Hale gal pal to Harry Hopkins, FDR's main man. But Harry married another. Hale wrote her goodbyes and leapt out of a high floor at the Hampshire House apts.After this dramatic death by suicide ( October 1938. Autumn is always depressing to broken up lovers), Luce commissioned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who also had been a friend of Hale's, to do a portrait of the ill-fated thespian. Kahlo, in response, painted "El Suicidio de Dorothy Hale," (click on URL to see it,) a lurid depiction of Hale's death that reportedly shocked and horrified both Clare and Luce as it shows her chum FALLING to the street.
Tragedy was closer the next time. On January 11, 1944, Luce's daughter Ann, while a senior at Stanford University, was killed in an automobile accident after having lunched with her mother, while returning to school. As a result of this tragedy, Luce explored psychotherapy and religion, joining the Roman Catholic Church in 1946. She ultimately joined the Dames of Malta. She and her husband "Harry" (LUCE) experimented with LSD under the tutelage of Gerald Heard and Sidney Cohen in the late 1950s. Both of them made dozens of LSD trips. As this drug makes one think like God and Luce already did, dead serious, focused on work, Spartan, never frivolous, consumed with altruism of wanting to teach his readers what was really going on and what should be going on, I wonder what happened on this God Juice drug. A study should be made of the dates of his trips and changes in Life Magazine. In 62 and 63, JFK and his mistress, Mary Meyer were also taking acid trips regularly. Maybe the changes in the presidency were what got him killed. One of the effects of acid is to see through the Matrix effect and spot the handlers running things. (she said, knowledgeably).
Writing career - As a writer for stage, film and magazines, Luce was known for her skill with satire and understatement, as well as her charm with people, which she displayed in oft-quoted aphorisms such as, "No good deed goes unpunished." After the end of her first marriage, Luce resumed her maiden name, and joined the staff of the fashion magazine Vogue, as an editorial assistant in 1930. In 1931, she became associate editor of Vanity Fair, and began writing short sketches satirizing New York society. In 1933, the same year she became managing editor of the magazine, her sketches were compiled and published under the title Stuffed Shirts. Boothe resigned from Vanity Fair in 1934 to pursue a career as a playwright.
In 1935, after her second marriage, Clare Boothe Luce's first play Abide with Me, a psychological drama about an abusive husband and his terrified wife, opened on Broadway. Her 1936 play The Women was a satire on the idleness of wealthy wives and divorcees. It was immensely popular with the public, though received coolly by critics; it ran for 657 performances. The Women was adapted for the screen and released by MGM in 1939. In 1938, Luce introduced a political allegory about American Fascism in Kiss the Boys Goodbye. With a storyline about the search for an actress to play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, the play was named one of the 10 best of the year. In Margin for Error (1939), Luce presented the murder of a Nazi agent as both a comedy and a melodrama. It was well received, and, along with the two earlier successful plays, confirmed Luce's status as a leading American playwright.
In 1940, after World War II had begun, Luce took time away from her success as a playwright and traveled to Europe as a journalist for her husband's Life Magazine. During a four-month visit, she covered a wide range of battlefronts. Her observations of Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and England in the midst of the German offensive were published as Europe in the Spring in 1940. This anecdotal account describes "... a world where men have decided to die together because they are unable to find a way to live together."
In 1941, Luce and her husband toured China and reported on the status of the country and its war with Japan. After the United States entered World War II, Luce toured Africa, India, China, and Burma, compiling reports for Life. Luce endured the frustrations and dangers familiar to most war correspondents, including bombing raids in Europe and the Far East. Luce's unsettling observations eventually led to changes in British military policy in the Middle East.
During this tour, she published interviews with General Harold Alexander, commander of British troops in the Middle East; Chiang Kai-Shek; Jawaharlal Nehru; and General Joseph Warren Stilwell, commander of American troops in the China-Burma-India theater. While in Trinidad and Tobago, she faced house arrest by British Customs due to Allied discomfort over contents of a draft Life article.
In 1947, after her second term in the US House expired, Luce wrote a series of articles describing her conversion to Roman Catholicism under the influence of Fulton J. Sheen. These were published in McCall's magazine. In 1949, she wrote the screenplay for the film Come to the Stable, about two nuns trying to raise money to build a children's hospital. The screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Luce returned to writing for the stage in 1951 with Child of the Morning. In 1952, she edited the book Saints for Now, a compilation of essays about various saints written by authors including Whittaker Chambers, Evelyn Waugh, Bruce Marshall, and Rebecca West. She wrote her final play, Slam the Door Softly, in 1970.
Political career - In 1942, Luce won a Republican seat in the United States House of Representatives representing Fairfield County, Connecticut, the 4th Congressional District. She filled the seat formerly held by her late stepfather, Dr. Austin. An outspoken critic of the Democratic President's foreign policy, Luce won the respect of the ultraconservative isolationists in Congress and received an appointment to the Military Affairs Committee.
However, her voting record was generally more moderate, siding with the administration on issues such as funding for American troops and aid to war victims. Recent scholarship indicates that this may have been a result of her amorous relationships with thw "Baker Street Irregulars" - a group of culturally elite spies sent by Churchill to Washington to influence American political views. Luce won a second term in the House in 1944 and was instrumental in the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission and began warning against the growing threat of international Communism.
Luce returned to politics during the 1952 presidential election, when she campaigned on behalf of Republican candidate Dwight Eisenhower. Luce's support was rewarded with an appointment as Ambassador to Italy, confirmed by the Senate in March 1953. Meeting Pope Pius XII, she allegedly instructed him to be tougher on communism in defense of the Church, prompting the Pontiff to a quiet reply, "You know, Mrs. Ambassador, I am a Catholic too." As ambassador, Luce addressed the issue of anticommunism and the Italian labor movement and helped settle the dispute between Italy and what was then Yugoslavia over the United Nations territorial lines in Trieste. Not long afterward, Luce fell seriously ill with arsenic poisoning caused by paint chips falling from the stucco that decorated her bedroom ceiling, and was forced to resign in 1956.
Luce maintained her association with the conservative wing of the Republican party. She was well known for her anti-Communist views, as well as her advocacy of fiscal conservatism. In 1964, she supported Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the Republican candidate for president, and considered a candidacy for the United States Senate from New York on the Conservative party ticket. However, also in 1964, "Harry" Luce retired as editor-in-chief of Time, and Luce joined him by also retiring from public life. In 1979, she was the first female to be awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point.
In 1981, newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan appointed Luce to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. She served on the board until 1983, the year President Reagan awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Clare Luce died of brain cancer on October 9, 1987, at the age of 84 in her Watergate apartment in Washington D.C.. She is buried at Mepkin Abbey, in South Carolina.
Luce's most significant legacy exists in the bequest she left to the Foundation created by her husband, The Henry Luce Foundation. Since its first grants in 1989 the Clare Boothe Luce Program has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering. To date, grants of more than $120 million have supported some 1,550 women. Grants are made to colleges and universities, not directly to individuals. Go to the HLUCE.ORG and apply.
Even after her death, the ideas of Clare Boothe Luce - both in the theatrical and political realms - continue to exert a strong influence. In 2002, The Roundabout Theatre Company staged a revival of her comedy The Women, which was later broadcast by the PBS series Stage on Screen. The three stars of this production were Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Johnston and Rue McClanahan. In 2008, a new film version of the play was released, written and directed by Diane English, and starring Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler, and Candice Bergen. Isn't that every great broad in show biz? Clare's legacy.
In the arena of politics, Luce's name lives on in the form of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank that seeks to advance American women through conservative ideas and espouses much the same philosophy as the late Clare Boothe Luce, both in terms of foreign policy and domestic policy.
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