Lila Ross Hotz

Lila Ross Hotz

Lila Ross Hotz, the daughter of Robert Schuttler Hotz, an inventor and financier, and Lila Frances Ross, was born in Chicago, on 26th March, 1899. Her father died when she was a teenager but she remained close to her mother, who later married Frederick T. Haskell.

The New York Evening Journal, described Hotz as "a member of the swagger younger set in the Windy City". According to Isaiah Wilner, the author of The Man Time Forgot (2006): Lila Ross Hotz, a tall Chicago heiress with ivory skin, dark curls, and big brown eyes that made men feel they were staring into something deep... There was something about her, something in the chiseled chin, the arched eyebrow, the pouting lip, that added up to more than beauty. She seemed ethereal, almost pixielike."

In 1920 Lila met Henry Luce, a young journalist, while on holiday in Rome. The following day she wrote to her mother: "His name is Luce - don't know his first name, or where his home is - or anything. Yet I do know what he thinks about many things! Agreed by us all to be the best looking man ever - which does count!... He was quite the most heavenly thing to talk to."

They continued to see each other over the next couple of years but it was only after Luce successfully launched Time Magazine that they were given permission to marry. The wedding took place in December 1923. Henry Winters Luce assisted at the church service. Afterwards they had a separate Skull and Bones wedding. The couple had two sons, Henry Luce (28th April, 1925) and Peter Paul Luce (18th May 1929).

In August, 1925, Henry Luce moved the magazine to Cleveland. They rented a house near Shaker Heights. Luce told her: "I think all my efforts are now centered around a vision of you and me having a good time for a mighty long time... Of course one has visions of more... One imagines oneself famous. One even imagines oneself powerful." Lila became involved in the social scene. After one successful party she told her mother: "Harry says I rose to the occasion like a cake of yeast in the oven."

Luce's business was a great success and on the death of his partner, Briton Hadden, he gained control of the company. In 1929 Luce established a second magazine, Fortune. His growing fortune enabled him to build a beautiful French-chateau style home on a large estate in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Henry Luce began an affair with Clare Boothe Luce and the couple were divorced in September, 1935. According to Robert E. Herzstein, the author of Henry R.Luce: A Political Portrait of the Man Who Created the American Century (1994): "Lila was devastated when Luce confronted her with his intention to divorce her. But they maintained a closeness and were in constant contact, often discussing their children's education and careers, among other things.''

Lila married Sewell Tyng, a staff attorney for then governor of New York, Thomas Dewey, in 1939. They lived in Ecuador, where Tyng had business interests for the next couple of years. In 1943, Lila divorced Tyng, but she kept his name for the rest of her life. According to her biographer: "Lila Tyng was a socialite; her time, energy and money went into the enjoyment of her own social life and into work for the benefit of others. A poet, a ballroom dancer, and a world traveler from her early years, she was always a great lover of life. With her irrepressible spirit, no matter what curves life threw her, she seemed to make a quick and buoyant recovery."

Lila Ross Hotz Luce Tyng died on 1st April, 1999, a few days after her 100th birthday.

Primary Sources

(1) Nick Ravo, The New York Times (3rd April, 1999)

Lila Hotz Luce Tyng, the first wife of Henry R. Luce, founder of Time Inc., died on Wednesday at her home in Gladstone, N.J., five days after her 100th birthday.

Mrs. Tyng, the mother of Mr. Luce's children, was a leading figure in New York's social and philanthropic circles for several decades.

Though overshadowed in history by the editor's famous second wife, the author Clare Boothe Luce, Mrs. Tyng played an important role in the life of Mr. Luce, who sought her advice even after they were divorced, said Robert E. Herzstein, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina and the author of ''Henry R. Luce'' (Scribner, 1994).

Lila Hotz was born in Chicago in 1899, the daughter of Robert Schuttler Hotz, an inventor and financier, and Lila Ross Hotz. On New Year's Eve 1919, she met the young Luce through one of his Yale classmates, Thornton Wilder; they were married in 1923.

The young wife hoped that Time's growing success would eventually allow her workaholic husband to join her in the kind of social whirl she loved. But they divorced in 1935, not long after Mr. Luce met Clare Boothe, whose literary and journalistic drives and interests better matched his own.