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American Clare BOOTHE LUCE

born Ann BOOTHE

American playwright, editor, journalist, ambassador, socialite and U.S. Congresswoman

Born: on April 10, 1903 in New York City, USA
Died: on October 09, 1987 in Washington, D.C., USA


Clare Boothe Luce was born Ann Boothe, the second illegitimate child of dancer Anna Clara Schneider (aka Snyder, aka Anne Boothe) and William Franklin Boothe. Her father, a violinist and patent-medicine salesman who was married to another woman, instilled in his daughter a love of music and literature. Parts of her childhood were spent in Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee (where the Boothe-Snyder family began using the surnames Murphy and Murfé); Union City, New Jersey; and New York City, New York. She had an elder brother, David Franklin. Clare's parents separated in 1912, with her mother thereafter publicly claiming to be a widow though telling her children that she and their father had divorced. To support herself and her young family, Ann Boothe worked as a "call girl" attached to a series of wealthy lovers.

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, whom her mother married in 1919, Boothe became interested in the Women's suffrage movement.

Boothe married George Tuttle Brokaw, heir to a New York clothing fortune, on August 10, 1923, at the age of 20. They had one daughter, Ann Clare Brokaw (April 25, 1924 - January 11, 1944). According to Boothe, Brokaw was an alcoholic, and the marriage ended in divorce in 1929. On November 23, 1935, Boothe married Henry Robinson Luce, the wealthy and influential publisher of Time, Fortune, and Life.

Luce was well-acquainted with other members of New York society and was a close friend of actress Dorothy Hale. After Hale's dramatic death by suicide in October 1938, 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", a lurid depiction of Hale's death that reportedly shocked and horrified Luce.

On January 11, 1944, Luce's daughter Ann Clare Brokaw, while a senior at Stanford University, was killed in an automobile accident. As a result of this tragedy, Luce explored psychotherapy and religion, joining the Roman Catholic Church in 1946, ultimately becoming a Dame of Malta.

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- Category Journalist