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Cultural Elite Still Does Lunch, And It's Still a Private Conversation - The New York Times, 2008


The Dutch Treat Club was founded in 1905 by Thomas Lansing Masson, an editor of Life (then a humor magazine), and Robert Sterling Yard, a reporter with the New York Sun, and two other men of letters who rode into Manhattan together each day on the Lackawanna Railroad. They enjoyed their conversation with each other so much one of them suggested, "Let's continue this at lunch sometimes." They wanted a New York City club for creative people -- writers, illustrators and later, musical artists and actors -- a club not to be dominated by publishers or editors, who were more driven by profit motive. The original 11 members consisted of four writers, four illustrators, two editors and a publisher who was certified as benign. The lunch was "dutch" -- everybody paid his own bill.


From this beginning grew an institution with over 350 members, including some of the most creative minds in America. In the past the Club produced elaborate musical and dramatic entertainments at an annual banquet. Charles Dana Gibson, David Belasco, Ring Lardner and Otis Skinner were among those involved in early Dutch Treat theatrical productions. DTCers Rodgers and Hammerstein provided many of the original songs for the occasions. The ’20s featured the first performance of Robert Benchley’s famous “Treasurer’s Report” and the first known play by Robert Sherwood. Member George M. Cohan’s last appearance was at the Club in 1942, a week before he died. The great Broadway producer George Abbott had been a member for 52 years when he died at the age of 107.


Since 1920 the club has produced a yearbook whose contributors have included James Montgomery Flagg, Lowell Thomas, Otto Soglow ("The Little King" comic strip), John Chapman, Rea Irvin (Eustace Tulley covers for The New Yorker), Deems Taylor and Isaac Asimov and Ralph Graves (the last managing editor of Life).

TODAY, the Dutch Treat Club continues in the tradition of its founders, with membership including people from diverse creative areas, including journalists, writers, producers, actors, singers, artists and those with interest in creative arts. 

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Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Walter Cronkite, Jose Ferrer, Bel Kaufman,

Lowell Thomas,  Ray Bolger, Robert Merrill, David Brown, Isaac Asimov, Jimmy Cagney,

George M. Cohan, Howard Chandler Christie, George Abbott, Frank Loesser,

George S. Kaufman, Jerome Kern, Edward R. Murrow, Ogden Nash, Norman Rockwell,

Artur Rubinstein, Gene Tunney, and

Presidents Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman and Gerald R. Ford

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