15/10/1903 to 31/08/1989
Claire was an American stage and screen actress and dancer. Among her few films were Up the River (1930) directed by John Ford and co-starring Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart, and Under Secret Orders (1937).
Luce starred in many Broadway plays from 1923 until 1952, including co-starring with Fred Astaire in the original musical Gay Divorce (1932). Astaire tried to get Luce for the film version of Gay Divorce, The Gay Divorcee (1934) but was overruled by the studio, RKO Radio Pictures, which preferred to use their contract player, Ginger Rogers.
Of her performance in Gay Divorce the critic Brooks Atkinson wrote: "In the refulgent Claire Luce, Fred Astaire has found a partner who can match him step for step and who flies over the furniture in his company without missing a beat." Unfortunately, during the London run of Gay Divorce, Luce suffered a serious injury during the "Table Dance" routine - a routine which is reprised in the film - damaging her hip, and this put an end to her stage dancing career.
In his autobiography, Astaire credits Luce as the inspiration for his revolutionary "Night and Day" dance routine: "Claire was a beautiful dancer and it was her style that suggested to me the whole pattern of the "Night and Day" dance. This was something entirely different from anything Adele and I had done together. That was what I wanted, an entirely new dancing approach."
Claire often appeared on the English stage and having been seen in Of Mice and Men in London in 1939, stayed in the UK throughout the war years. She played a number of Shakespearean roles during that time and in 1945 scored a big success leading the company at the annual Stratford-on-Avon Memorial Theatres summer Shakespeare Festival, particularly as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra. Her last appearance in London at that time was as Becky Sharp in an adaptation of Thackeray's Vanity Fair at the Comedy Theatre in 1946.