Close up of Nevada Writers Hall of Fame medal

Lucius Beebe

1992 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Inductee


Lucius Beebe was born on December 9, 1902, to a prosperous family in Wakefield, MA. He obtained his preliminary education at St. Mark's School in Southboro, Massachusetts. He won the Richard Memorial Prize for poetry in 1923 from Yale but was expelled in 1925. He graduated from Harvard in 1927 and remained to study poetry as a graduate student for a year while also becoming a correspondent for The New York Evening Post and a feature writer for The Boston Telegram. He then began work in literary journalism for the Boston Evening Transcript and, in 1929, The New York Herald Tribune, where he remained on staff until 1950. In 1934, he began writing a syndicated column for The New York Herald called "This New York," documenting the affluent Cafe Society he is credited with creating amid the Great Depression. He was featured on a 1939 cover of Life magazine and was known in social circles as "Mr. New York." He was a member of Chi Delta Theta, The Players, and the Coffee House Club of New York City, as well as an honorary member of Princeton University's Triangle Club. In 1940, he met Charles M. Clegg, Jr., who became his long-time companion and business partner in, for their era, an unusually open gay relationship. He was immortalized by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in the song "Zip" for the musical Pal Joey, which opened on Broadway in 1940.

Beebe was a member of the Wine and Food Society of America and Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an international organization celebrating French wines, and was invited to the first meeting of Les Amis de Gastronome in Las Vegas in 1960. He wrote the column, "Along the Boulevards," for Gourmet for over twenty years. Beebe came to Nevada in 1940 to review the premier of the film Virginia City at Piper's Opera House. In 1949, Beebe and Clegg moved to Virginia City, where they purchased and restored the Piper Family Home and later purchased the dormant Territorial Enterprise. Beebe re-launched the newspaper in 1952, and by 1954, the Enterprise had the highest circulation in the West for a weekly newspaper. He and Clegg co-wrote the "That Was the West" series, providing historical essays for the newspaper.

Beebe and Clegg selected and wrote sketches for the 1949 Nevada Day Pageant in Carson City, which was enjoyed by standing-room only audiences. He was appointed by the governor of Nevada to be a member of the Nevada State Centennial Committee (1958) and was Chairman of the Silver Centennial Monument Committee (1958), groups that planned events honoring Nevada's and Virginia City's history. He also served on the Nevada State Board of Economic Development.

A member of the Railroad and Locomotive Historical Society, Beebe gained recognition as a train photographer. He and Clegg owned two of the last private railroad cars, the Gold Coast and the Virginia City, and co-produced more than thirty books on American railroads and Western Americana. Beebe also wrote for such national magazines as American HeritageGourmetHolidayNewsweekPlayboy, and Saturday Review. Beebe and Clegg sold their interest in the Territorial Enterprise in 1960 and moved to San Francisco, where Beebe became an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, writing a weekly column, "This Wild West," until his death.