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The Women . Clare Boothe Luce
The women who inspired this play deserved to be smacked across the head with a meat ax and that, I flatter myself, is exactly what I smacked them with.
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Clare Boothe Luce: Playwright

Read quotes from CBL A playwright, journalist, member of Congress, and ambassador to Italy, Clare Boothe Luce's beauty, talent, and success made some envious and others awestruck. Even Clare, herself, would admit that at least part of her ascent had to do with luck but her story is still Horatio Alger in quality -- of a female variety.

Raised in genteel poverty in New York City by a divorced mother, Clare moved to Greenwich, Connecticut when her mother remarried, this time to a local doctor. She spent a year in Paris with her mother and, after a rebellious stint in New York City working rather menial jobs, Clare returned to Connecticut and married her first husband, George Tuttle Brokaw, who she met through a family friend. He inducted her into New York high society, but Clare was destined for something greater than merely being a Fifth Avenue matron. Like the women in her play, "The Women," Clare soon sought a "Reno divorce" from her husband.

Meanwhile, Clare's professional career as a writer and editor had taken off. As a testament to her ambition, she went from writing photo captions at VOGUE in 1930 to becoming an editor down the hall at VANITY FAIR in 1933.

Clare's second husband, Henry R. Luce, president of Time, Inc., would be an equal match to her wit and ambition. Clare would go on to be a war correspondent for LIFE and eventually would become a congresswoman from Connecticut and later ambassador to Italy.

Unlike her first play "Abide by Me," her second attempt at playwrighting, "The Women," was a popular, although not critical, success. The story about back-stabbing "ladies who lunch" -- or to quote characters from the play itself, "Park Avenue pushovers" -- were said to have resembled some of the women who Clare encountered in social circles.

"The Women" had an initial Broadway run of 657 performances before touring for two years. It was later adapted for the big screen in 1939.

Perhaps it was Clare Boothe Luce's rather humble beginnings that fueled her ability to poke fun at and, at the same time, celebrate her own rather lofty social status. As SCRIBNER'S (1939) described Clare, "She writes of the rich and for the rich -- but she always gives them hell."

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