Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce

Overview

Born illegitimate on New York's Upper West Side, with nothing to recommend her but blonde good looks and a ferocious intelligence, she used sex, street smarts, acid humor, and money to plot a career more improbable than anything in her own fiction and drama. At ten, Clare Boothe understudied Mary Pickford on Broadway. At twenty, she was both a suffragette and a siren to well-placed men on both sides of the Atlantic. She spurned the handsomest to marry the richest: George Tuttle Brokaw, an alcoholic Fifth Avenue ...
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Overview

Born illegitimate on New York's Upper West Side, with nothing to recommend her but blonde good looks and a ferocious intelligence, she used sex, street smarts, acid humor, and money to plot a career more improbable than anything in her own fiction and drama. At ten, Clare Boothe understudied Mary Pickford on Broadway. At twenty, she was both a suffragette and a siren to well-placed men on both sides of the Atlantic. She spurned the handsomest to marry the richest: George Tuttle Brokaw, an alcoholic Fifth Avenue millionaire more than twice her age. At twenty-six, she was free of him, financially secure, in the full flower of her beauty, and ambitious enough to scorch silk. Clare Boothe set about transforming herself into a caption writer at Vogue, staff writer and managing editor of Vanity Fair (glossiest of the Deco-era magazines), and author of Stuffed Shirts, a satiric short-story collection brilliant enough to arouse the envy of Andre Maurois. Then, in three days at age thirty-three, she wrote The Women, the hit play whose dry-martini dialogue ("I'm a virgin - a frozen asset") still elicits gasps from audiences around the world. By then Clare Boothe was married again, this time to a man who was her equal in force of character: Henry Luce, the youthful publisher of Time and Fortune. On their honeymoon, she helped plant the seed of his greatest success, Life. For Luce, meeting Clare was a "coup de foudre," a lightning stroke that transformed him overnight into the most ardent and generous of lovers. To Clare, whom a French artist once described as "a beautiful facade without central heating," Henry was only the latest, and by no means the last, of the men she cruelly disillusioned. Although the marriage endured, this clear-eyed biography chronicles its deterioration from passion to partnerships. Other admirers, including Max Reinhardt, Conde Nast, Joseph P. Kennedy, Randolph Churchill, Noel Coward, Bernard Baruch, Paul Gallico, Isamu Noguchi, and Jawaharlal Ne
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In many ways the regal Clare Boothe Luce was an American parallel to Pamela Ashby Churchill Harriman, a beauty relentlessly on the make for men, money and power. Yet Luce was more brainy and better educated, and perhaps more hungry for celebrity because she came from far lower circumstances. Her father was a violinist who was seldom able to make his living by his bow. Her mother, who never married William Boothe, was a call girl and kept woman. In the first half of what will be a two-volume life, Morris (Edith Kermit Roosevelt) describes how the future congresswoman and second wife of Time magazine founder Henry Luce, bedded her way upward while career-climbing in New York journalism and writing a stage mega-hit, The Women, which was made into a popular film in 1939. By 1942at age 39she turned to politics and was elected a Republican representative from Connecticut. Granted exclusive access to Luce's papers460,000 itemsin the Library of Congress before her subject's death in 1987, Morris has mined them for Luce's self-absorbed appetites. Unbewitched by her subject's aura, she describes "the corrosion of a personality denied the power that she felt born, if not qualified, to exercise." In a foreshadowing of the next volume, the author reveals that in later years, Luce's closest soul mate is to be Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
Morris digs into Luce's untouched diaries to craft this biography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394575551
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/13/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 561
  • Product dimensions: 6.68 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.74 (d)

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