Algonquin Round Table

If you could tell a good story, had connections in the entertainment field and were not shy about speaking your mind, you may have had a seat at the Algonquin Round Table luncheons of the 1920s. The Jazz Age meetings with cocktails at New York’s Algonquin Hotel resulted not only in gossip and an often sarcastic aim at its members in the press, but also promotions for each other's work.

Many literary collaborations were born at these luncheons, such as George S. Kaufman’s screenplay and the comedic acting of Harpo Marx in “A Night at the Opera” and Kaufman, Edna Ferber and Marc Connelly’s stage comedies, including “The Royal (Barrymore) Family” (1927). Monthly meetings dwindled to an eventual halt in the 1930s with the Depression, unemployment, and World War II.

The witty and iconic Algonquin Round Table core group included:

Franklin Pierce Adams - columnist

Robert Benchley - author, actor (“The Sex Life of the Polyp”), drama critic for The New Yorker

Heywood Broun- author, actor and his wife, critic Ruth Hale

Marc Connelly - playwright

Edna Ferber - Pulitzer Prize-winning author (1925 “So Big”); musicals “Showboat” and “Cimarron” were based on her novels

George S. Kaufman - playwright

Anita Loos - novelist, playwright and screenwriter who grew up in San Francisco, Loos did most of her writing in New York, including “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes”

Harpo Marx - Marx Brothers comedian

Dorothy (Rothschild) Parker - novelist, poet, writer at Vanity Fair and book reviewer for The New Yorker; died alone in 1967, left her entire estate to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the NAACP; a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table 

Harold Ross - co-founder of The New Yorker with wife, Jane Grant

Robert Sherwood - writer and former movie critic for Vanity Fair and Life

Alexander Woollcott - author, actor and former New York Times critic 

Actress Tallulah Bankhead, playwright Noel Coward and author Cornelia Otis Skinner (who co-wrote “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay” (1942) with Hoosier author Emily Kimbrough about their trip to Paris) were occasional members, among others.


Wit’s End: Days and Nights of the Algonquin Round Table” by James R. Gaines (1977) 

“The Algonquin Table The Ten Year Lunch” (1987 film) starring many of the original members as themselves: Franklin P. Adams, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, Harpo Marx, Dorothy Parker, Robert Sherwood, Alexander Woollcott; would recommend watching for performances by other actors as well: Ruth Gordon and Helen Hayes