177 Lincoln Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Cornell University, 410 Thurston Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850
The Cornell Club New York, 6 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017
135 Lincoln Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Saint Peters Cemetery Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, New York, USA
Frank Sullivan (September 22, 1892 - February 19, 1976) was an American humorist, best remembered for creating the character Mr. Arbuthnot the Cliche Expert.
Sullivan was born on September 22, 1892, in Saratoga Springs on 177 Lincoln Avenue, next door to the Saratoga Race Track and not far from his second and last home on 135 Lincoln Avenue. He was educated in Saratoga—meaning then that he not only attended schools there, but also worked at the track, where he received a liberal expansion of his scholarly education. As Alden Whitman wrote in his New York Times obituary of Frank, “Frank Sullivan, Humorist, Dies at 83; A Gentle Wit and Spoofer of Cliches”
As a boy of 10 he worked as a pump boy in the betting ring at the race track. On one occasion he served a glass of water to Lillian Russell, the actress, who tipped him 50 cents and said to him:
“Thank you, little boy. Tastes better out of a tin cup, too.”
“It was a swell job,” Mr. Sullivan said of his pump‐boy job, “easy hours, plenty to see, little to do, 10 to 15 bucks a day in tips and no income tax.”
While in Saratoga Springs High School, Frank was also a part-time reporter for The Saratogian. He went on to Cornell University, graduated in 1914, and then returned to the Spa City to write full time for The Saratogian.
Drafted into the US Army in 1917, he served as a Lieutenant. Post-war, he moved to New York City and briefly worked as a reporter for the Sun and then the New York Herald, before joining The World in 1922. Very significantly, in 1925 he also began a long association with The New Yorker magazine, newly created by Harold Ross. That literary relationship lasted until a little before Frank’s death in 1976.
Frank’s fame began in the Roaring Twenties. Simultaneously writing for The World and The New Yorker, while contributing to the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines, Frank Sullivan also became an “unofficial” member of the Algonquin Round Table. A daily luncheon gathering at Manhattan’s Algonquin Hotel, the Round Table included newspaper reporters, columnists, and humorists, as well as Broadway playwrights, producers, directors, and actors. Its“official” (charter) members were: Franklin Pierce Adams, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Ruth Hale, George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker, Brock Pemberton, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood, John Peter Toohey, and Alexander Woollcott. Harold Ross, not coincidentally, was the founder and editor of The New Yorker.
Frank Sullivan had been “invited to the table” as an intellectual compatriot and would become a lifelong friend to many of them. Other Round Table’s “unofficial” members were: Noël Coward, Harpo Marx, Tallulah Bankhead, Jane Grant, and Edna Ferber.
Frank’s period of greatest fame spanned from the 1920s through the 1940s. Beyond the Algonquin Round Table, Frank’s friends also included noted writers, actors, playwrights and producers. For example, there was his dear friend and drinking companion Monty Wooley—Yale professor, Broadway producer and actor, and Hollywood movie star. Also, Frank counted the acclaimed novelist and short story writer John O’Hara as a friend.
In 1930 his newspaper, The World, went out of business and, deeply affected, Frank moved from New York City back to Saratoga Springs, where he bought his second and last house on 135 Lincoln Avenue.
Business dictated that Frank still went to Manhattan. While there he stayed at the Cornell Club on East 44th Street, right next to Grand Central Station.
Beyond newspaper and magazine articles, Frank published eight books, including The Night the Old Nostalgia Burned Down. For many, Frank’s Christmas poems in The New Yorker were a much-anticipated annual event, as he extended greetings to the internationally famous and his neighbors down the street.
My published books:
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