As we acknowledge International Women’s Day this month it seems fitting to celebrate Clare Boothe Luce’s birthday, born March 10, 1903.
Seven professional pursuits spanning seven decades. Suffragette, women’s activist, editor, politician, journalist, playwright, foreign intelligence…. all laced with her trademark acid wit and bitter humour.
To say Clare Boothe Luce led a full life is an understatement! She was largely driven by her desire to make a contribution to the advancement of the women’s movement through her writing, her government appointed positions, and her donations. Even in death she ensured her legacy would live on, bequeathing funds to establish a program for women in under-represented fields such as science, mathematics and engineering.
As a young woman she was introduced to the Suffrage movement through a family friend and although this was contradictory to the notions that women should marry well and be committed wives supporting their husbands and families (which she also espoused), her support for the women’s movement was a lifelong undertaking.
After a short editorial stint at Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines in her early 20s, she pursued her passion of playwriting and soon experienced success with her satirical, all-female Broadway production The Women in 1936, and then in the movie version in 1939, starring Hollywood royalty of the time.
This story took a (rather confronting) magnifying glass, multi-generational look at women and their positions in the institution of marriage and family, and their roles in society generally. Her characters were representative of a cross-section of well-heeled, aristocratic married women and divorcees.
Just prior to her playwright journey in 1939 Clare wrote a book called Europe in the Spring, during her war correspondence travels.
But her writing career was soon eclipsed by her political roles. As her activism escalated she won a Republican seat in the US House of Representatives. She campaigned tirelessly for Republican presidential candidates, took a high profile anti communist stand, influenced Roman Catholic voting trends and was appointed Ambassador to Italy and later to Brazil
When presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983, President Ronald Regan said, “A novelist, playwright, politician, diplomat, and advisor to Presidents, Clare Boothe Luce has served and enriched her country in many fields. Her brilliance of mind, gracious warmth and great fortitude have propelled her to exceptional heights of accomplishment….”
How inspiring! Happy Birthday Clare Boothe Luce.