Early Life and Education
Ann Clare Boothe was born April 10, 1903, in New York City to dancer Anna Snyder and businessman William Franklin Boothe, who never married. The family lived in Chicago and Memphis. Her father left the family when Clare was nine years old, and she and her mother moved to France.
Clare attended St. Mary's School in Garden City, NY and Miss Mason's School in Tarrytown, NY, from which she graduated in 1919. She then went to Clare Tree Major's School of Theatre in New York City for a short time. Originally, Clare wanted to become an actress, and she served as an understudy for Mary Pickford. But she soon lost interest in acting when she dropped out of acting school to travel to Europe.
First Marriage Ends in Divorce
In Europe, she met the New York socialite, Mrs. Belmont, who influenced Clare’s interest in politics, particularly women’s suffrage. Through Mrs. Belmont, Clare met New York clothier George Tuttle Brokaw, whom she married August 10, 1923. The marriage to Brokaw produced Clare’s only child Ann Clare Brokaw. The marriage, however, did not survive Brokaw's abusive alcoholism and ended through divorce in 1929. Clare took back her maiden name.
Editor and Satirist
Clare became the assistant editor of Vogue magazine in 1930 and then served as associate editor at Vanity Fair in 1931. She started writing pieces of satire poking fun at New York socialites; in 1933, these pieces were collected and published in a book titled Stuffed Shirts. She became managing editor of Vanity Fair but resigned in 1934 to pursue a career as a playwright.
Opening on Broadway
Clare met publisher and founder of Time magazine, Harry Luce, at a party in New York, and they married on November 23, 1935. Luce also founded the magazines Fortune, Life, and Sport Illustrated. The couple’s 32-year marriage produced no offspring.
Clare’s plays Abide With Me, (1935), The Women (1936), and Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1938) became very popular with audiences, even though critics consistently panned them. Her 1939 Margin of Error treated its subject, the murder of a Nazi agent, as both a comedy and drama. Her reputation as a playwright was well established with these plays.
House of Representatives
In 1942, Clare campaigned to become a member of the House of Representatives to represent the Fourth Congressional District of Connecticut; she ran on the Republican ticket, arguing that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had taken the country to war unprepared. She was quite active a as congressman; she visited the troops in Italy. She spoke often in support of policies she believed in. She warned again the growing dangers of Communism. She helped create the Atomic Energy Commission.
A Life Altering Tragedy
On January 11, 1944, Clare’s nineteen-year-old daughter Ann was killed in traffic accident. Clare suffered a nervous breakdown. Undergoing psychotherapy and searching desperately for solace from the grief, she finally found it in the Catholic Church in 1946.
When her congressional term expired, Clare did not seek reelection but instead returned to writing. She wrote a series of articles exploring her conversion to Catholicism for McCall’s magazine. She penned a screenplay, Come to the Stable, edited the book, Saints for Now, and wrote a play, Child of the Morning.
Clare campaigned for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, and then spent the next thirty years in various diplomacy positions. She died on October 9, 1987, at her apartment in Washington, D. C. at age 84.
For more information:
Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute