Henry Robinson Luce

Is your surname Luce?

Research the Luce family

Henry Robinson Luce's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Henry Robinson Luce

Also Known As: "Harry", "Father Time"
Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Penglai (Tengchow 登州), Shandong, China
Death: February 28, 1967 (68)
Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States
Place of Burial: Moncks Corner, Berkeley County, South Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Winters Luce and Elizabeth Middleton Luce
Husband of Clare Boothe Luce
Ex-husband of Lila Ross Tyng
Father of Henry Robinson Luce, III and Peter Paul Luce
Brother of Emma Vail Severinghaus; Elizabeth Middleton Luce and Sheldon Root Luce

Occupation: Publisher, Sports Illustrated, Life, Time
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Henry Robinson Luce

Henry Luce was the publisher of Time, Fortune and LIFE magazines.

Luce, known to his friends as "Father Time," was born in Penglai City, China, the son of Elizabeth Middleton (née Root) and Henry Winters Luce, who was a Presbyterian missionary. He received his education in various Chinese and English boarding schools and at 10, traveled to the China Inland Mission Chefoo School, a boarding school at Yantai on the Shandong coast. At 14, he traveled to Europe alone, then to the U.S., arriving at the age of 15 to attend the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.

Luce split his time between waiting tables after school and editing for the Hotchkiss Literary Monthly, holding the position of editor-in-chief. In 1920, he graduated from Yale College, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi. During his senior year at Yale, Luce was tapped into the elite secret society, Skull and Bones. At Hotchkiss, he first met Briton Hadden, 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 Yale Daily News.

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 history studies at Oxford University. During this time he worked as a cub reporter for the Chicago Daily News. 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. It is said that the two originally thought of TIME Magazine during their time in the "tomb" of Skull and Bones. Having raised $86,000 of a $100,000 goal, the first issue of Time 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 in February 1930 and founded the pictorial Life magazine in 1936, and launched House & Home in 1952 and Sports Illustrated in 1954. He also produced The March of Time for radio and cinema. By the mid 1960s, Time Inc. was the largest and most prestigious magazine publisher in the world. (Dwight Macdonald, 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 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. An instrumental figure behind the so-called "China Lobby", he played a large role in steering American foreign policy and popular sentiment in favor of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling in their war against the Japanese. (The Chiangs appeared in the cover of Time eleven times between 1927 and 1955.[2])

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 in 1935, who had an 11-year-old daughter whom he raised as his own. He died in Phoenix, Arizona 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 in South Carolina.

He was honored by the United States Postal Service with a 32¢ Great Americans series (1980-2000) postage stamp. 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 September 8, 2005, age 80, on Fishers Island, New York, of cardiac arrest.

view all

Henry Robinson Luce's Timeline

April 3, 1898
Penglai (Tengchow 登州), Shandong, China
April 28, 1925
Age 27
Manhattan, NY, USA
May 18, 1929
Age 31
February 28, 1967
Age 68
Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, United States
February 28, 1967
Age 68
Moncks Corner, Berkeley County, South Carolina, United States
Yale and Oxford