“New York was fun…”

From: Noel Coward – a Biography (1995), by Philip Hoare:

“During one performance, Alexander Woollcott, sitting with Harpo Marx, ostentatiously opened a newspaper as Coward began to sing ‘A Room with a View’. Noel responded by giggling, ‘then rallied and cooed the rest of it in baby-talk which sent an exasperated Woollcott storming out of his box’…

…New York was fun, with Woollcott’s Sunday breakfast parties at his apartment, at the secluded ‘dead end’ of the East Fifties, overlooking the East River. These parties were attended by the Round Table stalwarts, with the portly Woollcott sitting ‘in grandeur in a comfortable armchair, unshaved, in his bright green pyjamas…marshalling the guests as a ringmaster’.”

From Wikipedia:

“After being kicked out of the apartment he shared with The New Yorker founders Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant, Woollcott moved first into the Hotel des Artistes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then to an apartment at the far end of East 52nd Street. The members of the Algonquin Round Table had a debate as to what to call his new home. Franklin P. Adams suggested that he name it after the faux Indian word Ocowoica, meaning “The-Little-Apartment-On-The-East-River-That-It-Is-Difficult-To-Find-A-Taxicab-Near”. But Dorothy Parker came up with the definitive “Wit’s End”.”

Stanley Turkel, CMHS, Hotel consultant, wrote at hospitality net.org on 4 November 2020:

“The Algonquin Hotel was originally planned as an apartment hotel with the idea of renting unfurnished rooms and suites on yearly leases to permanent tenants. When few leases sold, the owner decided to turn it into a transient hotel, which he was going to name “The Puritan”. Frank Case, the first general manager, objected and told the owner “it… contradicts the spirit of innkeeping. It is cold, forbidding and grim. I don’t like it.” When the owner replied, “You think yourself so smart, suppose you find a better name,” Case went to the public library to find out who were the first and strongest people in this neighborhood. He stumbled on the Algonquins, liked the word, liked the way it fit the mouth, and prevailed upon the boss to accept it.

The Algonquin Hotel was designed by architect Goldwin Starrett with 181 rooms. General Manager Frank Case assumed the lease in 1907 and then bought the hotel in 1927. Case remained owner and manager until his death in 1946.

The famous Algonquin Round Table was initiated by General Manager Case with a group of New York City actors, journalists, publicists, critics and writers who met daily at lunch starting in June 1919. They met for the better part of ten years in the Pergola Room (now called the Oak Room). Charter members included Franklin P. Adams, columnist; Robert Benchley, humorist and actor; Heywood Broun, columnist and sportswriter; Marc Connelly, playwright; George S. Kaufman, playwright and director; Dorothy Parker, poet and screenwriter; Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker; Robert Sherwood, author and playwright; John Peter Toohey, publicist; and Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist. By 1930, the original Round Table members had scattered, but the so-called “Vicious Circle” remained alive in the mellow and pleasant memory. When asked what became of the Round Table, Frank Case would answer “What became of the reservoir at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street? These things do not last forever. The Round Table lasted longer than any other unorganized gathering that I know of.”…”

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