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Laird Goldsborough and Henry Luce


John Simkin
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There is virtually nothing on Laird Goldsborough on the web. However, he is a very interesting character who had a very strange death.

Goldsborough was educated at Yale University and after leaving university he managed to find work with Time Magazine. Eventually he was appointed Foreign News editor. Isaiah Wilner, the author of The Man Time Forgot (2006), has argued: "Short and over-weight with long dark hair that flowed over the back of his collar, Goldsborough was partly lame due to a childhood hip ailment. He limped along with the help of a cane, sweating profusely.... Goldsborough wrote like a silkworm, spinning out a story from start to finish almost without stopping. When he came up with a particularly delicious phrase, he would pause to savor it, purring like a cat, then read it aloud and crackle."

Goldsborough held extreme right-wing opinions but this was kept under control by Briton Hadden, his editor, who instructed his journalists to tell both sides of an event. The two men disagreed about the merits of Benito Mussolini. Hadden was a strong supporter of democracy and severely attacked the rule of Mussolini, who he described as a "tin-pot dictator". Goldsborough on the other hand praised Mussolini as a bold leader.

At the beginning of 1927, Hadden agreed to switch jobs with Henry Luce. Goldsborough found his new editor as much more sympathetic to his right-wing views. Isaiah Wilner has pointed out: "No sooner had Luce taken the editor's seat than he began to twist and distort the news. Time's emerging bias first grew evident in Foreign News. Laird Goldsborough quickly impressed Luce with his writing ability and knowledge of foreign events." George Seldes has argued that Luce "permitted an outright pro-fascist, Laird Goldsborough, to slant and pervert the news every week."

In 1940 Goldsborough left Time Magazine and during the Second World War he was involved in counter-espionage with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

Laird Goldsborough committed suicide in 1950 when he jumped from the Time's office building wearing a bowler hat and carrying a cane.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAgoldsborough.htm

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Guest Tom Scully

John,

I am concerned there might be too much available on the internet about Goldsborough. Leave him in obscurity, he earned his reputation.

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=brucen&id=I25366

Name: Laird Shields GOLDSBOROUGH

Surname: Goldsborough

Given Name: Laird Shields

Sex: M

Birth: 6 Mar 1902 in Indiana

_UID: 4305EF94A6D965429E3926970D4376C81377

Change Date: 26 Jun 2008 at 20:28:12

Father: Winder Elwell GOLDSBOROUGH b: 10 Oct 1871 in Baltimore, Maryland

Mother: Charlotte Poole WALLACE b: Aug 1877 in Indiana

Marriage 1 Florence MACHAUGHY ....

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wmIlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=IwAGAAAAIBAJ&pg=3648,6013136&dq=norwalk+laird+goldsborough&hl=en

Don't Cry, Joe! .

Sunday Herald - Feb 26, 1950

...(His father is So. Norwalk's distinguished W. Elwell Golds-borough and his uncle, Federal Judge t. Allan Goldsborrough who imposed the fine on John L. Lewis two years ago.)...

http://articles.latimes.com/1994-05-15/books/bk-57738_1_american-century

Henry Luce at the End of the American Century : HENRY R. LUCE: A Political Portrait of the Man Who Created the American Century, By Robert E. Herzstein (Scribner's: $30; 521 pp.)

May 15, 1994|Charles Champlin | Champlin, former arts editor of The Times, spent 17 years as a Time-Life writer and correspondent

...Herzstein is freshly interesting about the early days of Time, when a fanatic and prolific Foreign News editor named Laird Shields Goldsborough infused the pages with an implicit anti-Semitism (Bernard Baruch was "Jew Baruch"), downplayed the plight of European Jews and hailed the rise of Franco. "On the side of Franco are men of property, men of God and men of the sword," Goldsborough wrote in an answering memo to fellow editor Archibald MacLeish's complaint about the slant of Time's coverage.

Herzstein had access to the irascible private journal kept by an early Luce editor John Shaw Billings, and now archived at Herzstein's university. Billings' uncensored comments are like lightning flashes, illuminations of the official traffic in memos.

Luce ultimately had to demote Goldsborough, who in 1950 leaped to his death from the Time-Life Building, still carrying his gold-headed walking stick....

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&tbo=1&q=%22he+had+brought+john+s.+martin+over*%22+&btnG=#pq=%22brought+time%27s+managing+editor%2C+john+billings%2C+in+to+fill+the+life+job.*%22&hl=en&ds=bo&cp=40&gs_id=qa&xhr=t&q=%22Franco+are+men+of+property%2C+men+of+God%2C*%22&tok=jjLC3Guv-DbOLrIByocemg&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&tbo=1&tbm=bks&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=%22Franco+are+men+of+property,+men+of+God,*%22&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=3fa79b40380ca6a5&biw=840&bih=417

Time: Volume 92, Part 2

books.google.com1968 - Snippet view

Retorted a disdainful Goldsborough: "On th« side of Franco are men of property, men of God and mer of the sword. In so describing them, I presume that I con demn them to particularly nether depths, but what positior do you suppose these ...

Roosevelt, Churchill, and the World War II opposition: a ...

books.google.com George Teeple Eggleston - 1979 - 255 pages - Snippet view

Another painful matter confronting Luce was the problem of Life's managing editor. He had brought John S. Martin over from Time to handle the job, and just when the new publication was within weeks of going to press Martin showed every sign of having a nervous breakdown. John Martin, a cousin of the co-founder of Time Briton Hadden, had come to the magazine in 1922 directly upon graduation from Princeton, where he had edited the Daily Princetonian. Martin had also made a name for himself on campus as a phenomenal athlete. Although he had lost his left arm in a hunting accident, such was his prowess with his right that he continued to be a crack shot. He not only played par golf, but earned his letter in varsity soccer as well. He had performed brilliantly as managing editor of Time — it was understood that he was the only Timeman who could write any part of the magazine more skillfully than Luce. But at about the hour Martin's talent was most needed at Life he suddenly had a personality flip. He took to shouting down Luce at story conferences — calling Luce's ideas "buckeye" — bawling out Longwell before everyone at staff meetings, and becoming generally obnoxious all around. When it was discovered that he was drinking heavily, Luce sent him off on a year's sabbatical and brought Time's managing editor, John Billings, in to fill the Life job. Martin suffered no loss financially from the demotion; he had long since become a millionaire thanks to his Time, Inc. stock. A still further vexatious interoffice situation developed when the Spanish Civil War exploded in full fury in the fall of 1936. Time's conservative foreign news editor, Laird Goldsborough, promptly slanted all news stories in his department in favor of General Franco's rebel insurgents. Liberal New Dealer Archibald Mac- Leish, on Fortune, promptly bombarded Luce memos denouncing Franco's coalition of landowners, the Church, and the army, as "tools of fascism." In defining his position to Luce at the time, Goldsborough wrote: "On the side of Franco are men of property, men of God, and men of the sword. What positions do you suppose these sorts of men occupy in the minds of 700000 readers of Time? I am convinced that our readers do not recoil at the sight of a US Marine, a clergyman, or a prosperous householder. They resent communists, anarchists, and political gangsters — those so-called Spanish Republicans." Luce tended to allow Goldsborough to continue with a free rein. But the early issues of Life reflect that the editor in chief had no firm convictions on international affairs in the mid-1930's. The wife of the editor in chief had, however, some very firm opinions on international matters. Clare was violently anti-Franco and promptly contributed a thousand dollars to the pro- Communist Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which was gathering volunteers in New York City to fight against Franco in Spain. According to Clare's friend and biographer, Stephen Shadegg, this 1936 phase of her life was but a brief interlude....

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John,

I am concerned there might be too much available on the internet about Goldsborough. Leave him in obscurity, he earned his reputation.

Thank you for that but I think it is a slight exaggeration to say "there might be too much available on the internet about Goldsborough". Do you have anything on his break with Luce in 1940 and his death in 1950?

Your discovery of George Teeple Eggleston's account of Goldsborough is very useful. According to the New York Times (obituary, 9th June, 1990) he worked for Luce after he had purchased the satirical magazine called Life, which was bought by Henry Luce so that he could use its name for a new pictorial magazine. Eggleston had edited the magazine.

Eggleston's comments about Clare Boothe Luce are well made. It has been wrongly claimed that Luce left his wife for Clare because of her right-wing views. This was not true. It was Goldsborough who was the one who moved him to his pro-fascist position. As Eggleston points out, she "was violently anti-Franco and promptly contributed a thousand dollars to the pro-Communist Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which was gathering volunteers in New York City to fight against Franco in Spain."

It was the death of her daughter Ann, a nineteen-year-old student at Stanford University, who was killed in a car accident on 11th January, 1944, that changed her political ideology. Devastated by the loss of her only child that she suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1946, Clare was convertion to Roman Catholicism. During this period Clare Luce developed extreme right wing views and became well known for her outspoken opposition to communism and her support for free enterprise.

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Guest Tom Scully

So far, all I have is Goldsborough's NY Times obituary, and I'm assuming you have read it, but if not, there are a few interesting details. Whittaker Chambers took over Goldsborough's position in 1940, and there are a few quotes from Goldsborough's wife.

The demotion by Luce, described in the article I linked to in my last post is not mentioned.

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So far, all I have is Goldsborough's NY Times obituary, and I'm assuming you have read it, but if not, there are a few interesting details. Whittaker Chambers took over Goldsborough's position in 1940, and there are a few quotes from Goldsborough's wife.

The demotion by Luce, described in the article I linked to in my last post is not mentioned.

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Interesting that his wife believed he had not committed suicide as he had only gone to the office to pick up some papers.

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On being informed of his suicide she : ...'' ... ''...''I can't believe it'' ... .''He went to the office to get some papers...'' ... ''...'' ???

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On being informed of his suicide she : ...'' ... ''...''I can't believe it'' ... .''He went to the office to get some papers...'' ... ''...'' ???

The New York Times reported that his wife, Florence Maconaughy Goldsborough, said that "he had no reason whatever for taking his own life, had left his home only twenty minutes before he was killed to pick up some papers in the office, and was to have returned for dinner." She also insisted that his death had nothing to do with his relationship with Whittaker Chambers who was involved in the Alger Hiss perjury case at the time.

The police appeared convinced that Goldsborough had committed suicide: "The door of Mr. Goldsborough's office was locked on the inside when they went to investigate the case. The building superintendent, Len Herrick, was called and was unable to open it without smashing the glass panel." However, that does not rule out the possibility of Goldsborough being murdered by someone who had his keys. He seemed to have died the same way as Grant Stockdale who jumped or was pushed from the window of his locked office just after the Kennedy assassination.

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  • 3 years later...

I see nothing about a demotion of Goldsborough in 1940.

As a matter of fact, Goldsborough was appointed as a sort of roving ambassador for Luce, and as such was party to an extraordinary meeting as the one with Desmond Morton, noted in Col. Raymond Lee's report forwarded to Marshall's G-2 in November of 1941.

It seems possible that his pro-Fascist sentiments and his "fashionable" anti-Semitism made him a liability as continuing as Foreign Editor as the war went on, but that Luce still wanted him around.

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