Henry Luce


Henry Robinson Luce (April 3, 1898February 28, 1967) was an influential American publisher.


Luce, known to his friends as "Father Time," was born in Penglai City, China, the son of Elizabeth Middleton (née Root) and Henry Winters Luce, who was a Presbyterian missionary. He was educated in various boarding schools in China and England. At 10, he was sent to the British China Inland Mission Chefoo School, a boarding school at Yantai on the Shandong coast and at 14, he traveled to Europe alone. He first arrived in the U.S. at the age of 15 to attend the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Luce split his time between waiting tables after school and editing for the Hotchkiss Literary Monthly, holding the position of editor-in-chief. He later graduated from Yale University in 1920, where he was a member of Skull and Bones.

Luce first met Briton Hadden at Hotchkiss while the latter was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and Luce worked as an assistant managing editor. The two continued to work together at Yale, where Hadden was chairman and Luce was managing editor of the Yale Daily News.

Luce recalled his relationship with Hadden: "Somehow, despite the greatest differences in temperaments and even in interests, somehow we had to work together. We were an organization. At the center of our lives — our job, our function — at that point everything we had belonged to each other."

After being voted "most brilliant" of his class at Yale, he parted ways with Hadden to embark on history studies at Oxford University for a year and worked as a cub reporter for the Chicago Daily News after his return. In December 1921, Luce joined Hadden at The Baltimore News.

Nightly discussions of the concept of a news magazine led the two, both age 23, to quit their jobs in 1922. Later that same year the two formed Time Inc. Having raised $86,000 of a $100,000 goal, the first issue of Time was published on March 3, 1923. Luce served as business manager while Hadden was editor-in-chief. Luce and Hadden annually alternated year-to-year the titles of president and secretary-treasurer. Upon Hadden's sudden death in 1929, Luce assumed Hadden's position.

Luce launched the business magazine Fortune in February 1930 and founded the pictorial Life magazine in 1936, and launched House & Home in 1952 and Sports Illustrated in 1954. He also produced The March of Time for radio and cinema. By the mid 1960s, Time Inc. was the largest and most prestigious magazine publisher in the world. (Dwight Macdonald, a somewhat reluctant employee at Fortune during the 1930s, referred to him as "Il Luce".)

During his life, Luce supported many programs like Save the Children Federation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and United Service to China, Inc.

Luce, who remained editor-in-chief of all his publications until 1964, was an influential member of the Republican Party. Holding anti-communist sentiments, he was an instrumental figure behind the so-called "China Lobby", and played a large role in steering American foreign policy and popular sentiment in favor of dictatorial Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling (the Chiangs appeared in the cover of Time eleven times between 1927 and 1955.)

Once ambitious to become Secretary of State in a Republican administration, Luce penned a famous article in Life magazine in 1941, called "The American Century", which defined the role of American foreign policy for the remainder of the 20th century (and perhaps beyond).

Luce had two children — Peter Paul and Henry Luce III — with his first wife, Lila Hotz. He married his second wife, Clare Boothe Luce in 1935. He died in Phoenix, Arizona in 1967. At his death he was said to be worth $100 million in Time Inc. stock. Most of his fortune went to the Henry Luce Foundation. He is enterred at Mepkin Plantation in South Carolina.

According to the Henry Luce Foundation, Henry Luce III died September 8, 2005, age 80, on Fishers Island, New York, of cardiac arrest.

Alleged lovers

Ralph G. Martin's book Henry & Clare: An Intimate Portrait of the Luces claims that Henry had extended relationships with Jean Dalrymple]] (a Broadway producer and theatrical agent) and Mary Bancroft (who, among other accomplishments, had been a wartime spymaster for the OSS). According to Martin, Clare also had many lovers. Henry's liaison that most seriously threatened his marriage to Clare involved Lady Jeanne Campbell, granddaughter of the British press tycoon Lord Beaverbrook. TIME in 1956 found a minor job in its picture department for Lady Jeanne. Luce became so openly smitten with this cheerful redhead, 31 years his junior, that rumors of the affair appeared in gossip columns. Lady Jeanne eventually married novelist Norman Mailer.

Martin's claims are controversial. An article in the August 26, 1991 issue of TIME states that "Henry & Clare is rife with errors, undocumented innuendo, non sequiturs and contradictions. Martin shows little understanding of how the Luce organization worked; the portraits of his principals are caricature-crude, especially in the case of Clare. In biography even more than architecture, God is in the details. By that standard, Henry & Clare deserves the scathing verdict that Luce often penciled on drafts of unsatisfactory stories: 'Needs work'.


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