This wedding is fun. The Manhattan editors and writers who trade quips and insults almost every day at lunch at the Algonquin Hotel are here. The groom is Robert Sherwood, 26, editor of the humor magazine Life, towering over everyone at 6 feet 8 inches tall. The bride is actress Mary Brandon, 20, who appeared with Sherwood and the Algonquin gang in their one-off revue, No Sirree!, a few months ago.
The Little Church Around the Corner, aka The Church of the Transfiguration
The ushers include Sherwood’s co-editor at Life, Robert Benchley, 33, who just finished a gig with the Music Box Revue doing his shtick from No Sirree!, “The Treasurer’s Report,” seven days a week. And Alexander Woollcott, 35, who just went from reviewing plays for the New York Times to writing a column, “In the Wake of the Plays,” for the New York Herald after the owner, Frank Munsey, 68, offered him $15,000 a year. “For money and no other reason,” explains Woollcott.
And playwright Marc Connelly, 31, who just had a second Broadway hit, West of Pittsburgh, with his collaborator, George S Kaufman, 32.
And also Frank Case, 49, who is not known to be particularly witty, but as the manager of the Algonquin Hotel, he must have a good sense of humor.
Also attending are hit novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 26, and his wife Zelda, 22, fresh off the successful publication of his second collection of short stories, Tales of the Jazz Age.
And America’s sweethearts, film stars Mary Pickford, 30, and her co-star and husband of two years, Douglas Fairbanks, 39.
All wish the Sherwoods well. But some predict this wedding will be the high point of their marriage.
Mary Brandon Sherwood
Many of the wedding guests actually have more fun in the summer and into the fall partying out on Long Island.
The biggest bashes are at the rented home of New York World publisher Herbert Bayard Swope, 40, overlooking Manhasset Bay. People were not invited—they went there.
Herbert Bayard Swope’s house in Great Neck
From Great Neck then, came the Fitzgeralds, who have rented a house there and the Lardners from across the street. And a whole clan named Marx, including Arthur (“Harpo”), 33, and his brother Julius (“Groucho”), 32, who have made a name for themselves in musical theatre.
From nearby Sandy Point came magazine illustrator Neysa McMein, 34, and mining engineer Jack Baragwanath, 35. Neysa was the first to suggest that their competitive croquet games on the lawn be played without rules. Swope loved the idea; he feels the game
makes you want to cheat and kill…The game gives release to all the evil in you.”
Bust of Neysa McMein by Sally James Farnham
Heywood Broun, 33, a columnist on Swope’s own World, came to gamble, but sometimes brought his wife, free-lance writer Ruth Hale, 35.
Of theatrical people there were the Kaufmanns and Connelly and composer George Gershwin, 24. Also from New York were Woollcott, and New York Times journalist Jane Grant, 30. And the free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 29, separated now, who has pieces in almost every issue of the Saturday Evening Post. She’s sometimes accompanied by her latest beau, would-be playwright Charles MacArthur, 27, but other times is seen sneaking across the road to the home of sportswriter Ring Lardner, 37, when his wife is away.
In addition to all these, satiric writer Donald Ogden Stewart, 27, came there at least once.
All these people came to Swope’s house in the summer.
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s.Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher 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 also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.