Marc Connelly, 30, and George S Kaufman, 31, are here for the opening of their first major production, the three-act comedy Dulcy.
When they came to New York City from different towns in western Pennsylvania—separately—to start their careers, this is exactly what each of them had in mind.
After getting a few things published in the city’s daily newspapers, and working on a few theatre projects, last year Connelly and Kaufman were approached by two of the biggest Broadway producers, George C. Tyler, 53, and Harry Frazee, 41. The latter, owner of the Boston Red Sox, had within a few months last year sold his top player, legendary slugger Babe Ruth, 26, to the New York Yankees, and then bought this theatre.
Tyler and Frazee wanted the playwrights to come up with a starring vehicle for a young British actress, Lynn Fontanne, 33, who had appeared in a couple of Broadway shows in the past few years.
The young pair turned to one of their friends in the group of writers they lunch with regularly at the nearby Algonquin Hotel, the most-read columnist in the city, FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams], 39. In his New York Tribune column “The Conning Tower,” FPA has created a recurring ditzy character called Dulcy, short for Dulcinea, after the heroine of Don Quixote. Connelly and Kaufman thought they could build something around her and offered FPA a 10% cut of the profits.
Lynn Fontanne in Dulcy
The show has been through try-outs in the Midwest—Indiana, Illinois—with Kaufman becoming ever more nervous as this night approached.
Two of their friends from the Algonquin lunches have said that they will review the play. They think Heywood Broun, 32, in the Tribune will probably like the tricky patter. But Alexander Woollcott, 34, drama critic for the Times and Kaufman’s boss there, has already said their play is probably not good enough for Fontanne.
Curtain going up…
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book format on Amazon. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.