Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy birthday, Alexander Woollcott.

Amid the hoopla of the 200th Poe birthday today, let us not forget the 122nd birthday of New Jersey-born Alexander WoollcottStars and Stripes journalist, theater critic, writer, member of the Algonquin Round Table, radio personality, and model for Sheridan Whiteside in George S. Kaufman's The Man Who Came to Dinner. His mystery story "Moonlight Sonata" appears in The Vicious Circle (2007), ed. Otto Penzler. Although Penzler states that the onscreen Waldo Lydecker in Laura is modeled on Woollcott, it's quite clear from A. B. Emrys's article in Clues 23.3 ("Laura, Vera, and Wilkie") that Caspary's character originates from Count Fosco in Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White.
Alexander Woollcott says that each new play is a fresh joy to him, but the question is whether he's a fresh joy to each new play!—I wonder.—Noel Coward, Terribly Intimate Portraits (New York, 1922) 19.
About the photo: Alexander Woollcott by Carl Van Vechten, ca. 1939. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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