Mary Higgins ClarkFCLC '79, International Bestselling Author

Mary Higgins Clark's books are worldwide bestsellers. In the U.S. alone, her suspense novels have sold over 100 million copies. Her latest, I've Got You Under My Skin, was published by Simon & Schuster in April 2014.

She is the author of 33 previous bestselling suspense novels. Her first book, a biographical novel about George Washington, was reissued with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story, in June 2002. Her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, was published by Simon & Schuster in November 2002. She has also authored two children's books and co-authored, with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, five holiday suspense novels.

Two of her novels were made into feature films while many of her other novels and short stories were made into television films. The latest TV film from the My Gal Sunday collection of stories appeared on the Hallmark Channel in January 2014.

Active in Catholic affairs, Mary Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal honor. She is also a Dame of Malta and a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. She received the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars in 1999.

Mary's fame as a writer was achieved against heavy odds. Born and raised in the Bronx, her father died when she was 11 and her mother struggled to raise her and her two brothers. On graduating from high school, she went to secretarial school. After three years of working in an advertising agency, travel fever seized her. For the year 1949, she was a stewardess on Pan American Airlines' international flights. After flying for a year, she married a neighbor, Warren Clark, nine years her senior, whom she had known since she was 16. Soon after her marriage, she started writing short stories, finally selling her first to Extension Magazine in 1956 for $100. "I framed that first letter of acceptance," she recalls.

Left a young widow by the death of her husband from a heart attack in 1964, Mary began to write radio scripts for a living. In addition, she decided to try her hand at writing books. Every day she wrote from 5 to 7 a.m., when she had to get her five children ready for school.

Mary's first suspense novel, Where Are the Children?, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1975. It became a bestseller and marked a turning point in her life and career. It is currently in its 75th edition in paperback and was reissued in hardcover as a Simon & Schuster classic. Freed to catch up on things she always wanted to do, she entered Fordham College at Lincoln Center, graduating summa cum laude in 1979 with a B.A. in philosophy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fordham University in 1998. She is a past trustee of Fordham University and Providence College, and served on the Board of Governors of the Hackensack College Medical Center. She has 21 honorary doctorates.

She is the No. 1 fiction bestselling author in France, where she received the Grand Prix de Literature Policiére in 1980 and The Literary Award at the 1998 Deauville Film Festival. In 2000, she was named by the French Minister of Culture "Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters."

Honors she has received include the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society (1993), the Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (1994), the National Arts Club's first Gold Medal in Education (1994), the Horatio Alger Award (1997), the Outstanding Mother of the Year Award (1998), the Bronx Legend Award (1999), the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the first Reader's Digest Author of the Year Award (2002), the Christopher Life Achievement Award (2003) and the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award (2008). She was the Grand Marshal of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2011.

In 1996, Mary Higgins Clark married John Conheeney, the retired chairman and CEO of Merrill-Lynch Futures. They live in Saddle River, N.J. Between them, they have 17 grandchildren—Mary's six and John's 11.