The Implosion of a Billion-Dollar Franchise

 

The Implosion of a Billion-Dollar Franchise

In the autumn of 1954, my father went to Rome to research a biography of Clare Boothe Luce, playwright, wit, former congresswoman, and President Eisenhower’s Ambassador to Italy. That was the year her husband—Henry R. Luce, founder of Time, LIFE and Fortune—launched Sports Illustrated to the astonishment of everyone who knew him, because Luce was emphatically not a sports fan. The story running around Rome and New York was that someone inveigled Luce to go to a ball game at Yankee Stadium and he was stunned to see 50,000 screaming fans. “How long has this been going on?” Luce reportedly asked his companion. “A