(Oxford English Dictionary)
cafÃ© society (orig. U.S.), a group of people who frequent fashionable restaurants, night-clubs, and resorts: also attrib.
1937 Fortune Dec. 123 A blending of old socialites and new celebrities called CafÃ© Society. 1952 Time 8 Sept. 4/2 All the other cafÃ© society playboys and playgirls. 1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 9 May 250/5 His Jewish birth militated against his admission to what would now be called cafÃ© society.
The Life and Times of Maury Paul
by Eve Brown
E. P. Dutton & Company, New York
The next morning (Feb. 1919? This reel is not in the NYPL when I looked - ed.), history, to coin a phrase, was made. For (Pg. 279 - ed.) Maury Paul had given this new order of things a name. The name was: "Cafe Society." In the years to come, that tag was to become more and more widely known; it was the title of a movie in which Madeleine Carroll played a headstrong debutante the way Hollywood heroines always play headstrong debutantes (with overtones of Jimmy Durante); it became the name of not one but two New York nightclubs (one of which first labeled itself "The Right Place to Meet the Wrong People," and had a ten-cent cover charge, but later degenerated into a standard cellar joint); it became the qualifying phrase for all murders involving anyone who wore a white collar, and it even turned up as the title of a directory unsuccessfully designed to supplant the Social Register and known as Cafe Society Register. It became, as we say, a household word, as accepted as Walter Winchell's "blessed event" or "renovated," and and as casually used as "glamor girl," also coined by Maury. It came into being simply because The Man sat in the Ritz one night and saw some Goelets sitting with a Widener and a Corrigan.
The popularity of the term, it must be admitted, is due in a great part to Lucius Beebe, who started using it often in writing his weekly pillar in the Herald Tribune on cooking, drinking and the best place to buy mauve garters. This was one instance where Mr. Beebe, ordinarily astute but never as shrewd as Maury by far, beat Mr. Paul to the draw. For when, in 1938, Paramount Picture set about making their epic called "Cafe Society," that organization paid $5,000 merely for the use of the title, but not to Maury Paul. They paid it to Lucius Beebe. This sent Maury into what amounted to a purple rage
18 July 1942, New York Times, pg. 13, col. 5:
MAURY PAUL, NOTED
AS SOCIETY WRITER
"Cholly Knickerbocker" of The
Journal and American for
25 Years Is Dead at 52
WAS SYNDICATED WIDELY
Coined Phrases "Cafe Society"
and "Old Guard"--Intimate
of New York Notables
Maury Henry Biddle Paul, society editor of The New York Journal-American and colorful chronicler of New York society events and personalities under the pen-name of "Colly Knickerbocker," died early yesterday of a heart ailment at his home, 136 East Sixty-fourth Street, at the age of 52.
A familiar figure around town, he was never flamboyant in his dress and was conventionally retiring in manner. He called many of the town's social leaders by their first names. Mr. Paul invented the phrase "Cafe Society," to describe the night club and restaurant crowd, also coined the expression, "Old Guard," which included members of the old New York families, and even these he divided into two classes, A and B.
He was unmarried and lived at the East Sixty-fourth Street address with his mother.
28 October 1985, Forbes, pp. 40-41+:
Maury Paul, recording the social scene for the New York American, coined the phrase. (Cafe Society--ed.)