The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987)

Clare Boothe Luce, the daughter of a businessman and a former dancer, was born in New York City where she attended private schools and studied acting before marrying New York clothing manufacturer George Tuttle Brokaw in 1923. The couple had one child and were divorced in 1929. Luce then embarked on a writing career. In the space of ten years, she worked for Vogue and Vanity Fair, and wrote four plays including "The Women," which later was made into a movie. Also during this period she married Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine, who, after their marriage and reportedly at her suggestion, went on to create Life and Fortune magazines.

As war became more likely, Luce abandoned the theater for journalism and public affairs. Working as a correspondent for Life magazine, she traveled the world interviewing heads of state and assessing local conditions. She also became active in Republican politics and, in 1942, was elected to Congress representing Connecticut's Fourth District. Luce went on to serve three terms, becoming known for her conservative views and stalwart anti-communist stance.

Luce left politics in 1946 following the accidental death of her daughter and her subsequent conversion to Roman Catholicism. However, in 1952 she supported Dwight Eisenhower's presidential bid and actively campaigned on his behalf. After his election, Eisenhower appointed Luce ambassador to Italy. She served there for three years, resigning in 1956 due to a mysterious illness that was later diagnosed as arsenic poisoning caused by flakes of paint from her bedroom ceiling. In 1959, Eisenhower nominated her to become ambassador to Brazil. Although her appointment was confirmed, she never served because of an uproar over her public criticism of one of her opponents, Senator Wayne Morse (D-Oregon).

Thereafter, Luce became increasingly conservative. In 1964, she seconded the nomination of Arizona senator Barry Goldwater as Republican presidential candidate and mounted a brief bid to run as the Conservative party candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York. She spent her last years pursuing her interests in writing and the arts. In 1987 she died of a brain tumor in Washington, D.C.

Source: American National Biography Online. Internet on-line. Available From

Published by the Model Editions Partnership

Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .

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