Home > American Masters > Season 18 > Episode 5
Henry Luce and Time-Life's America: A Vision of Empire
Recalling Time-Life founder Henry Luce (1898-1967). His slick and vivid magazines "distilled the life and times of the 20th century," says narrator Scott Simon. Luce, the precocious son of an American missionary in China, "envisioned an American century" during World War I, and brashly set about charting and "interpreting" it in 1923, when he and Briton Hadden founded Time. Next, as the Depression was arriving, came the unprecedentedly lavish Fortune (a "literature of business," says "Wall Street Week with Fortune" co-host Geoffrey Colvin). And in 1936, Luce changed the face of journalism again with Life. "It made news photography real art," says Letitia Baldrige. And by the 1950s, "Luce's American century had arrived, and Life was its manual," says Simon.
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