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"This book preview contains selected pages from Great, Grand & Famous Hotels. If you wish to purchase the book or find out more, please go to
Hotels : Sample NY
NEW YORK: POWER & PROMINENCE GREAT, GRAND & FAMOUS HOTELS 141 hotel in America." William Faulkner drafted his Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech at the Algonquin in 1950. British actor, Basil Hallam, would go jogging after returning from each night's performance: "He never knew he was the only man on Manhattan Island running up Fifth Avenue in his underwear at night." The Algonquin also broke ground in making welcome the new phenomenon of 'independent' women, among them the early feminist writers Gertrude Stein and her girlfriend Alice B. Toklas, Simone de Beauvoir and Eudora Welty; as well as Helen Hayes, a Ziegfeld girl who went on to be one of the most acclaimed American actresses of her era. Upon Case's death in 1946, Ben Bodne acquired the hotel and proceeded with a careful and loving refurbishment, paying great attention to the preservation of the Edwardian style that guests cherished. A new multi-million dollar historical restoration, including hand-selected antique furniture, saw the Algonquin born yet again in 1998. DOROTHY PARKER The Colony restaurant's popularity gained prominence after being 'discovered' by Mrs WK Vanderbilt. Yet a small group of not-yet-famous individuals also met here. Apparently, these worthies made such nuisances of themselves by asking for meals at unheard of hours -- breakfast at 11 pm, dinner at 2 am -- that Gene Cavallero, the Colony's owner, eventually froze them out, whereupon they moved their activities to the Algonquin. At the height of its fame, the group included magazine heavyweights, Harold Ross and Robert Benchley; columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun; critic Alexander Woollcott; as well as playwrights George S Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber and Robert Sherwood. Some of the group, including Dorothy Parker, initially met at Vanity Fair. The group's almost daily lunches in the Algonquin's Oak Room -- characterised by sparring dialogue and droll asides -- spanned a decade. The lunch legacy included the creation of many a memorable epigram and a new magazine, the New Yorker, founded by Harold Ross, conceived in part to capture this new form of scalpel-sharp repartee. Though society columns referred to the group as the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle. "By force of character," observed drama critic Brooks Atkinson, "they changed the nature of American comedy and established the tastes of a new period in the arts and theatre." One unlikely member of the group was Harpo Marx. Famous as the Marx Brother who never spoke on screen, he was apparently a voluble contributor to Round Table discussions. GUESTS AT THE ALGONQUIN The Algonquin Oak Room launched the careers of Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Peter Cincotti and Jamie Cullum. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wrote My Fair Lady in Lerner's suite. Famous for overseas guests including Noel Coward, Laurence Olivier, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Tom Stoppard, Charles Laughton, Diana Rigg and Anthony Hopkins. Harold Ross secured funding for the New Yorker magazine from a fellow poker player in the hotel's "Thanatopsis Pleasures and Inside Straight Club." Algonquin honeymooners include Douglas Fairbanks and Orson Welles. Among other famous female visitors to the hotel was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Below left: French existentialist writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir in 1947. Below right: Dorothy Parker (1893--1967) reviews a draft copy of a manuscript at her home.