In famed cartoonist Al Hirschfeld’s illustration of the Algonquin Round Table, Alexander Woollcott is seated in the middle wearing round glasses. To his left you see Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Frank Case, Franklin P. Adams, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, Robert Sherwood, Dorothy Parker, and Frank Crowninshield. Seated in the back is Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt with Robert Benchley.
©Al Hirschfeld
Purchase limited-edition lithograph of this cartoon, hand-signed by Al Hirschfeld

Odd McIntyre was not a fan of the group that came to be known as the Algonquin Round Table, and some of those in the group were not fans of his.

The group’s first gathering took place in 1919 at one of the round tables at the Hotel Algonquin at 59 West Forty-Fourth Street.

Hotel Algonquin owner Frank Case saw opportunity in catering to those in the entertainment and publishing business. Celebrities could often be found either staying in the hotel or eating in the hotel’s restaurant.

The high-profile group of writers, editors, actors, and publicists who lunched at the Algonquin included Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker, Heywood Broun, Harold Ross, Harpo Marx, Edna Ferber, and many others. “The Vicious Circle,” as they jokingly called themselves, became famous for its witty observations and clever comments, often made at the expense of each other—or those who weren’t considered worthy of being invited. As Edna Ferber remembered, if the group disapproved of you, they were “merciless.”

Odd celebrated much of the modern popular culture of the era, and certainly benefited from America’s fascination with the writing, art, fashion, and entertainment that was coming out of New York at the time. However, his personal philosophy tended to be more conservative and much kinder. Even though he was only a few years older than most of those trading barbs at the Round Table, their snobby sophistication and sarcastic wit was lost on him.

The group represents adolescent genius in the loop of time. Having discarded swaddling clothes and climbed down from their high chairs, they are out to ride knowledge to a fall. They go in for things if you know what I mean.
O. O. McIntyre

Frank Case tried frequently to get Odd and the group together. Because his mother-in-law lived at the hotel and he and Case were close friends, Odd was a frequent visitor to the hotel, but Odd never sat down with any of those whom he considered part of “that Algonquin crowd,” as he called them.

By the early 1930s, the group began drifting apart. Some moved to Hollywood or Europe, while others got too busy for long lunches every day. Edna Ferber wrote she knew the end had come when she arrived at the Algonquin to find a family of tourists from Kansas sitting at their usual table waiting for a menu.

Odd must have had a slight smile on his face when he wrote in his October 23, 1931 column, “Thoughts while strolling: What became of the Algonquin Round Table?”

Purchase now in paperback (with 130 photos) or as an ebook for download.
Enjoy getting Odd.

Sharpen your wit and take a seat at the Algonquin Round Table for a taste of the 1920s.

Oddly Social: