Henry Luce

Henry Luce

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Henry Robinson Luce was an influential American publisher. He launched and closely supervised a stable of magazines that transformed journalism and the reading habits of upscale Americans. Time summarized and interpreted the week's news; Life was a picture magazine of politics, culture and society that dominated American visual perceptions in the era before television; Fortune explored in depth the economy and the world of business, introducing to executives avant-garde ideas such as Keynesianism; and Sports Illustrated which probed beneath the surface of the game to explore the motivations and strategies of the teams and key players. Add in his radio projects and newsreels, and Luce created the first multimedia corporation. Luce, born in China to missionary parents, demonstrated a missionary zeal to make the nation worthy of dominating the world in what he called the "American Century."

Life and career

Luce, known to his friends as "Father Time," was born in Tengchow, China, on April 3, 1898, the son of Elizabeth Middleton and Henry Winters Luce
Henry W. Luce
Henry Winters Luce was an American missionary and educator in China. He was the father of the publisher Henry R. Luce.Henry W. Luce graduated from Yale University in 1892...

, who was a Presbyterian missionary. He received his education in various Chinese and English boarding schools including the China Inland Mission
China Inland Mission
OMF International is an interdenominational Protestant Christian missionary society, founded in Britain by Hudson Taylor on 25 June 1865.-Overview:...

 Chefoo School
Chefoo School
The Chefoo School a.k.a. Protestant Collegiate School or China Inland Mission School was a Christian boarding school established by the China Inland Mission - under James Hudson Taylor- at Chefoo , in Shandong province in northern China, in 1880...

. He was sent to the U.S. at the age of 15 to attend the Hotchkiss School
Hotchkiss School
The Hotchkiss School is an independent, coeducational American college preparatory boarding school located in Lakeville, Connecticut. Founded in 1891, the school enrolls students in grades 9 through 12 and a small number of postgraduates...

 in Connecticut, followed by Yale College.

Luce edited the Hotchkiss Literary Monthly. In 1920, he graduated from Yale College
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi
Alpha Delta Phi
Alpha Delta Phi is a Greek-letter social college fraternity and the fourth-oldest continuous Greek-letter fraternity in the United States and Canada. Alpha Delta Phi was founded on October 29, 1832 by Samuel Eells at Hamilton College and includes former U.S. Presidents, Chief Justices of the U.S....

 and Skull and Bones
Skull and Bones
Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior or secret society at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. It is a traditional peer society to Scroll and Key and Wolf's Head, as the three senior class 'landed societies' at Yale....

. At Hotchkiss, he first met Briton Hadden
Briton Hadden
Briton Hadden was the co-founder of Time magazine with his Yale classmate Henry Luce. He was Time's first editor and the inventor of its revolutionary writing style, known as Timestyle...

, who would become a lifelong partner. At the time, Hadden served as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. Luce worked as an assistant managing editor. The two continued to work together at Yale, with Hadden as chairman and Luce as managing editor of The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...


Luce, recalling his relationship with Hadden, said, "Somehow, despite the greatest differences in temperaments and even in interests, 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 for a year on historical studies at Oxford University. During this time he worked as a cub reporter for the Chicago Daily News
Chicago Daily News
The Chicago Daily News was an afternoon daily newspaper published between 1876 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois.-History:The Daily News was founded by Melville E. Stone, Percy Meggy, and William Dougherty in 1875 and began publishing early the next year...

In December 1921, Luce rejoined Hadden to work 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
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

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
Fortune (magazine)
Fortune is a global business magazine published by Time Inc. Founded by Henry Luce in 1930, the publishing business, consisting of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated, grew to become Time Warner. In turn, AOL grew as it acquired Time Warner in 2000 when Time Warner was the world's largest...

in February 1930 and founded the pictorial Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

magazine in 1936, and launched House & Home in 1952 and Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

in 1954. He also produced The March of Time
The March of Time
The March of Time is a radio series, and companion newsreel series, that was broadcast on CBS from 1931 to 1945 and shown in movie theaters from 1935 to 1951. It was created by Time, Inc. executive Roy Edward Larsen, and was produced and written by Louis de Rochemont and his brother Richard de...

for radio and cinema. By the mid 1960s, Time Inc. was the largest and most prestigious magazine publisher in the world. (Dwight Macdonald
Dwight Macdonald
Dwight Macdonald was an American writer, editor, film critic, social critic, philosopher, and political radical.-Early life and career:...

, a somewhat reluctant employee at Fortune during the 1930s, referred to him as "Il Luce".) Among media writers, such cryptical editor's comments as "Needs work" and "Eh?" survive him.

During his life, Luce supported many programs such as Save the Children Federation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

 and United Service to China, Inc.

Luce, who remained editor-in-chief of all his publications until 1964, maintained a position as an influential member of the Republican Party. Holding anti-communist sentiments, used Time to support right-wing dictatorships in the name of fighting communism. An instrumental figure behind the so-called "China Lobby
China Lobby
In United States politics, the China lobby refers to any special interest group acting on behalf of the governments of either the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China to influence Sino-American relations. During most of the twentieth century, the term "China lobby" was usually used...

", he played a large role in steering American foreign policy and popular sentiment in favor of Nationalist
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 leader Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 and his wife Soong Mei-ling
Soong May-ling
Soong May-ling or Soong Mei-ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek or Madame Chiang was a First Lady of the Republic of China , the wife of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek. She was a politician and painter...

 in their war against the Japanese. (The Chiangs appeared in the cover of Time eleven times between 1927 and 1955.)

It has been reported that Luce, during the 1960's tried LSD and reported that he had talked to God under its influence.

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
Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce was an American playwright, editor, journalist, ambassador, socialite and U.S. Congresswoman, representing the state of Connecticut.-Early life:...

 in 1935, who had an 11-year-old daughter
Ann Clare Brokaw
Ann Clare Brokaw was the only child of Clare Boothe Brokaw and George Tuttle Brokaw....

 whom he raised as his own. He died in Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

 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 interred at Mepkin Plantation
Mepkin Abbey
Mepkin Abbey is a Trappist monastery in Berkeley County, South Carolina. The abbey is located near Moncks Corner, at the junction of the two forks of the Cooper River northwest of Charleston....

 in South Carolina.

He was honored by the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 with a 32¢ Great Americans series
Great Americans series
The Great Americans series is a set of definitive stamps issued by the United States Postal Service, starting on December 27, 1980 with the 19¢ stamp depicting Sequoyah, and continuing through 2002, the final stamp being the 78¢ Alice Paul self-adhesive stamp. The series, noted for its simplicity...

 (1980-2000) postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

. Mr. Luce was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1977.

According to the Henry Luce Foundation, Henry Luce III died suddenly on September 8, 2005 at 80 years old while visiting his home on Fishers Island
Fishers Island
Fishers Island, approximately 9 miles long and 1 mile wide, is located at the eastern end of Long Island Sound, 2 miles off the southeastern coast of Connecticut across Fishers Island Sound...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, of cardiac arrest. The Luce Memorial Chapel
Luce Memorial Chapel
The Luce Memorial Chapel is a Christian chapel on the campus of Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. It was designed by the architect and artist Chen Chi-Kwan in collaboration with the firm of noted architect I. M. Pei, and named in honor of the Rev. Henry W...

 on the campus of Tunghai University
Tunghai University
Tunghai University was founded by Methodist missionaries in 1955 as a comprehensive university. It is a top-ranked private school and a leading institution in Taiwan. Moreover, Tunghai University was founded as the first private university making it the second oldest university in Taiwan, which...

 in Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 was constructed in memoriam of Henry Luce's father.

Further reading

  • Brinkley, Alan. The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century, Alfred A. Knopf (2010) 531 p. "A Magazine Master Builder" Book review by Janet Maslin
    Janet Maslin
    Janet Maslin is an American journalist, best known as a film and literary critic for The New York Times. She served as the Times film critic from 1977–1999.- Biography :...

    , The New York Times, April 19, 2010 (p. C1 of the NY ed. April 20, 2010). Retrieved 2010-04-20
  • Brinkley, Alan. What Would Henry Luce Make of the Digital Age?, TIME (April 19, 2010) excerpt and text search
  • Baughman, James L. Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the American News Media (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Elson, Robert T. Time Inc: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise, 1923-1941 (1968); vol. 2: The World of Time Inc.: The Intimate History, 1941-1960 (1973), official corporate history
  • Herzstein, Robert E. Henry R. Luce, Time, and the American Crusade in Asia (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Herzstein, Robert E. Henry R. Luce: A Political Portrait of the Man Who Created the American Century (1994).
  • Morris, Sylvia Jukes. Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce (1997)

External links