In early 1939, Old Gold began sponsorship of a weekly radio show called “Melody and Madness” on the Columbia Radio Network. The ‘melody’ was provided by renowned band leader, Artie Shaw while the ‘madness’ was the province of humorist and writer Robert Benchley.
Benchley had a long career starting with his days at Harvard where he was a writer for the Harvard Lampoon and acted in several Hasty Pudding Club theater productions. After graduation, he worked for the New York Tribune along with Vanity Fair and The New York World magazines as a theater critic and columnist. His friendship with Dorothy Parker at Vanity Fair and Alexander Woollcott at Time led to long lunches at the nearby Algonquin Hotel. Eventually, the lunches grew to include such other notables as Haywood Broun, Harpo Marx, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and Robert Sherwood and the group became known as “The Algonquin Round Table”. From 1920 to 1929 the group met for their daily lunches which included a generous helping of witticisms’, practical jokes and biting humor. Unfortunately, the high-brow humor of the radio show did not gain a wide audience and was cancelled in less than a year.