born Clare Boothe, New York City, 1903
Clare Boothe’s original ambition was to become an actress and she understudied Mary Pickford before enrolling in Clare Tree Major’s School of the Theatre. She lost interest, however, and dropped out to go on a European tour with her parents. Through this she met Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, a New York society matron and an advocate of women’s suffrage. From Mrs. Belmont, Clare herself became interested in women’s rights. It was also Mrs. Belmont who introduced her to George Tuttle Brokaw, a New York clothing manufacturer 24 years Clare’s senior. On Aug. 10, 1923, Clare and George were married. On Aug. 25, 1924, Clare gave birth to a daughter Ann Clare Brokaw. Sadly, George was an abusive alcoholic and the marriage ended in divorce in 1929.
Rarely does one public figure become equally famous in each of the individual careers that he or she pursues; however, Clare Boothe Luce did so to the maximum. In her public life spanning several decades she gained equal as an editor, playwright, politician, journalist, and diplomat. In addition, the zeal in which she pursued each one of these careers resulted in her epitomizing the “talk-of-the-town.” ~ Women in History
She was instrumental in establishing the Atomic Energy Commission and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Italy, becoming the first American woman to represent her country to a major world power. In 1981, President Reagan appointed Clare to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and in 1983 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She died October 9, 1987 leaving the majority of her estate to The Henry Luce Foundation. Characteristically, she declined to restrict her vision to the fields in which she had established her reputation. She chose instead to establish a legacy that would benefit current and future generations of women with talent and ambition in areas where they continue to be severely underrepresented—science, mathematics and engineering. Her bequest created a program that is the single largest private source of funding for women in those fields. ~ Henry Luce Foundation