Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker

Overview
Dorothy Parker was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, short story writer, critic and satirist
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

, best known for her wit
Wit
Wit is a form of intellectual humour, and a wit is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.-Forms of wit:...

, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles.

From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table
Algonquin Round Table
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929...

. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting
Screenwriting
Screenwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games. It is a freelance profession....

. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

.

Parker went through three marriages (two to the same man) and survived several suicide attempts but grew increasingly dependent on alcohol.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Dorothy Parker'
Start a new discussion about 'Dorothy Parker'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Quotations

Excuse my dust.

Her proposed epitaph for herself, quoted in Vanity Fair (June 1925)

And she had It. It, hell; she had Those.

Regarding a character in Elinor Glyn|Elinor Glyn's novel It; in her review of same, "Madame Glyn Lectures on 'It,' with Illustrations" in The New Yorker (1927-11-26)

Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart.

New Yorker (4 February 1928)

It is that word 'hummy,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.

Her "Constant Reader" book review of The House at Pooh Corner|The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, in The New Yorker (20 October 1928)

That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.

"But the One on the Right" in The New Yorker (1929)

The House Beautiful is, for me, the play lousy.

Review of "The House Beautiful" by Channing Pollock, New Yorker (21 March 1931)

[A] lady ... with all the poise of the Sphinx though but little of her mystery.

Concerning a child actress in A. A. Milne|A. A. Milne's play Give Me Yesterday; in her review of same, "Just Around Pooh Corner" in The New Yorker (1931-03-14)

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,Love, the reeling midnight through,For tomorrow we shall die!(But, alas, we never do.)

"The Flaw in Paganism" in Death and Taxes (1931)

[On the most beautiful words in the English language] The ones I like...are "cheque" and "enclosed."

Quoted in N.Y. Herald Tribune (12 December 1932)
Encyclopedia
Dorothy Parker was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, short story writer, critic and satirist
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

, best known for her wit
Wit
Wit is a form of intellectual humour, and a wit is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.-Forms of wit:...

, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles.

From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table
Algonquin Round Table
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929...

. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting
Screenwriting
Screenwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games. It is a freelance profession....

. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

.

Parker went through three marriages (two to the same man) and survived several suicide attempts but grew increasingly dependent on alcohol. Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a "wisecracker." Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.

Early life


Also known as Dot or Dottie, Parker was born Dorothy Rothschild to Jacob Henry and Eliza Annie Rothschild (née Marston) at 732 Ocean Avenue in the West End village of Long Branch, New Jersey
Long Branch, New Jersey
Long Branch is a city in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 30,719.Long Branch was formed on April 11, 1867, as the Long Branch Commission, from portions of Ocean Township...

, where her parents had a summer beach cottage. Dorothy's mother was of Scottish descent, and her father was of German-Jewish descent (unrelated, however, to the Rothschild banking dynasty). Parker wrote in her essay "My Hometown" that her parents got her back to their Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 apartment shortly after Labor Day so she could be called a true New Yorker. Her mother died in West End in July 1898, when Parker was a month shy of turning five. Her father remarried in 1900 to a woman named Eleanor Francis Lewis. Parker detested her father and stepmother, accusing her father of being physically abusive and refusing to call Eleanor either "mother" or "stepmother," instead referring to her as "the housekeeper." She grew up on the Upper West Side
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 125th Street...

 and attended Roman Catholic elementary school at the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament, despite having a Jewish father and Protestant stepmother. She was asked to leave following her characterization of the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

 as "spontaneous combustion
Spontaneous combustion
Spontaneous combustion is the self-ignition of a mass, for example, a pile of oily rags. Allegedly, humans can also ignite and burn without an obvious cause; this phenomenon is known as spontaneous human combustion....

". Her stepmother died in 1903, when Parker was nine. Parker later went to Miss Dana's School
Miss Dana's School for Young Ladies
Miss Dana's School for Young Ladies was a private boarding and finishing school originally founded in 1860 as the Morris Female Institute, in Morristown, New Jersey at 163 South Street, near Madison Avenue. In 1877 it was leased and renamed by Miss E. Elizabeth Dana...

, a finishing school
Finishing school
A finishing school is "a private school for girls that emphasises training in cultural and social activities." The name reflects that it follows on from ordinary school and is intended to complete the educational experience, with classes primarily on etiquette...

 in Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown is a town in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town population was 18,411. It is the county seat of Morris County. Morristown became characterized as "the military capital of the American Revolution" because of its strategic role in the...

. Her formal education ended when she was 13. Following her father's death in 1913, she played piano at a dancing school to earn a living while she worked on her verse.

She sold her first poem to Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair (magazine)
Vanity Fair is a magazine of pop culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast. The present Vanity Fair has been published since 1983 and there have been editions for four European countries as well as the U.S. edition. This revived the title which had ceased publication in 1935...

magazine in 1914 and, some months later, she was hired as an editorial assistant for another Condé Nast
Condé Nast Publications
Condé Nast, a division of Advance Publications, is a magazine publisher. In the U.S., it produces 18 consumer magazines, including Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, GQ, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Vogue, as well as four business-to-business publications, 27 websites, and more than 50 apps...

 magazine,
Vogue
Vogue (magazine)
Vogue is a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published monthly in 18 national and one regional edition by Condé Nast.-History:In 1892 Arthur Turnure founded Vogue as a weekly publication in the United States. When he died in 1909, Condé Montrose Nast picked up the magazine and slowly began...

. She moved to Vanity Fair as a staff writer following two years at Vogue.

In 1917, she met and married a Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

 stock broker
Stock broker
A stock broker or stockbroker is a regulated professional broker who buys and sells shares and other securities through market makers or Agency Only Firms on behalf of investors...

, Edwin Pond Parker II
(March 28, 1893 in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

 – January 7, 1933 in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

), but they were separated by his army service in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. She had ambivalent feelings about her Jewish heritage given the strong antisemitism of that era and joked that she married to escape her name.

Algonquin Round Table years



Her career took off while she was writing theatre criticism for Vanity Fair, which she began to do in 1918 as a stand-in for the vacationing P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE was an English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be...

. At the magazine she met Robert Benchley
Robert Benchley
Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor...

, who became a close friend, and Robert E. Sherwood
Robert E. Sherwood
Robert Emmet Sherwood was an American playwright, editor, and screenwriter.-Biography:Born in New Rochelle, New York, he was a son of Arthur Murray Sherwood, a rich stockbroker, and his wife, the former Rosina Emmet, a well-known illustrator and portrait painter known as Rosina E. Sherwood...

. The trio began lunching at the Algonquin Hotel
Algonquin Hotel
The Algonquin Hotel is a historic hotel located at 59 West 44th Street in Manhattan . The hotel has been designated as a New York City Historic Landmark....

 on a near-daily basis and became founding members of the Algonquin Round Table
Algonquin Round Table
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929...

. The Round Table numbered among its members the newspaper columnists Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams was an American columnist, well known by his initials F.P.A., and wit, best known for his newspaper column, "The Conning Tower", and his appearances as a regular panelist on radio's Information Please...

 and Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Humphreys Woollcott was an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine and a member of the Algonquin Round Table....

. Through their re-printing of her lunchtime remarks and short verses, particularly in Adams' column "The Conning Tower," Dorothy began developing a national reputation as a wit.

Parker's caustic wit as a critic initially proved popular, but she was eventually terminated by Vanity Fair in 1920 after her criticisms began to offend powerful producers too often. In solidarity, both Benchley and Sherwood resigned in protest.

When Harold Ross
Harold Ross
Harold Wallace Ross was an American journalist and founder of The New Yorker magazine, which he edited from the magazine's inception in 1925 to his death....

 founded The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

in 1925, she and Benchley were part of a "board of editors" established by Ross to allay concerns of his investors. Parker's first piece for the magazine appeared in its second issue. Parker became famous for her short, viciously humorous poems, many about the perceived ludicrousness of her many (largely unsuccessful) romantic affairs and others wistfully considering the appeal of suicide.

Her greatest period of productivity and success came in the next 15 years. In the 1920s alone she published some 300 poems and free verses in outlets including the aforementioned Vanity Fair, Vogue, "The Conning Tower" and The New Yorker along with Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

, McCall's
McCall's
McCall's was a monthly American women's magazine that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of 8.4 million in the early 1960s. It was established as a small-format magazine called The Queen in 1873...

and The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

.

Parker published her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope, a collection of previously published work along with new material in 1926. The collection sold 47,000 copies and garnered impressive reviews. The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

described her verse as "caked with a salty humor, rough with splinters of disillusion, and tarred with a bright black authenticity." Although some critics, notably the New York Times, dismissed her work as "flapper
Flapper
Flapper in the 1920s was a term applied to a "new breed" of young Western women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior...

 verse," the volume helped cement her status, as the New York World
New York World
The New York World was a newspaper published in New York City from 1860 until 1931. The paper played a major role in the history of American newspapers...

review put it, as "one of the most sparkling wits who express themselves through light verse." Parker released two more volumes of verse, Sunset Gun (1928) and Death and Taxes (1931), along with the short story collections Laments for the Living (1930) and After Such Pleasures (1933). Not So Deep as a Well (1936) collected much of the material previously published in Rope, Gun and Death and she re-released the fiction with a few new pieces in 1939 under the title Here Lies.

In 1924, Parker collaborated with fellow Algonquinite George S. Kaufman
George S. Kaufman
George Simon Kaufman was an American playwright, theatre director and producer, humorist, and drama critic. In addition to comedies and political satire, he wrote several musicals, notably for the Marx Brothers...

 on a one-act play, Business is Business. She next collaborated with playwright Elmer Rice
Elmer Rice
Elmer Rice was an American playwright. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1929 play, Street Scene.-Early years:...

 to create Close Harmony. The play was well received in out-of-town previews and was favorably reviewed in New York but closed after a run of just 24 performances. It did, however, become a successful touring production under the title The Lady Next Door.

Some of her most popular work was published in The New Yorker in the form of acerbic book reviews under the byline "Constant Reader" (her response to the whimsy of A. A. Milne
A. A. Milne
Alan Alexander Milne was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various children's poems. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work.-Biography:A. A...

's The House at Pooh Corner
The House at Pooh Corner
The House at Pooh Corner is the second volume of stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. It is notable for the introduction of the character Tigger, who went on to become a prominent figure in the Disney Winnie the Pooh franchise.- Plot :The title...

: "Tonstant Weader fwowed up."). Her reviews appeared semi-regularly from 1927 to 1933, were widely read, and were later published in a collection under the name Constant Reader in 1970.

Her best-known short story, "Big Blonde", published in The Bookman
The Bookman (New York)
The Bookman was a literary journal established in 1895 by Dodd, Mead and Company. It drew its name from the phrase, "I am a Bookman," by James Russell Lowell; the phrase regularly appeared on the cover and title page of the bound edition. It was purchased in 1918 by the George H. Doran Company. In...

magazine, was awarded the O. Henry Award
O. Henry Award
The O. Henry Award is the only yearly award given to short stories of exceptional merit. The award is named after the American master of the form, O. Henry....

 as the best short story of 1929. Her short stories, though often witty, were also spare and incisive, and more bittersweet than comic.

She eventually separated from her husband and had a number of affairs, including with reporter-turned-playwright Charles MacArthur
Charles MacArthur
Charles Gordon MacArthur was an American playwright and screenwriter.-Biography:Charles MacArthur was the second youngest of seven children born to stern evangelist William Telfer MacArthur and Georgiana Welsted MacArthur. He early developed a passion for reading...

 and the publisher Seward Collins
Seward Collins
Seward Bishop Collins was an American New York socialite and publisher. By the end of the 1920s, he was a self-described "fascist".-Biography:...

. Her relationship with MacArthur resulted in a pregnancy—which she aborted
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

—about which Parker is alleged to have remarked, "How like me, to put all my eggs into one bastard", and a depression that culminated in her first attempt at suicide. She and Edwin divorced in 1928. Affairs with both Benchley and Woollcott are alleged to have resulted in pregnancies as well.

It was toward the end of this period that Parker began to become politically aware and active. What would become a lifelong commitment to left-leaning causes began in 1927 with the pending executions of Sacco and Vanzetti
Sacco and Vanzetti
Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during a 1920 armed robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts, United States...

. Parker travelled to Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 to protest the proceedings. She and fellow Round Tabler Ruth Hale
Ruth Hale (feminist)
Ruth Hale was a freelance writer who worked for women's rights in New York City, USA, during the era before and after World War I...

 were arrested, and Parker eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of "loitering and sauntering", paying a $5 fine.

Hollywood


In 1934, she married Alan Campbell
Alan Campbell (screenwriter)
Alan K. Campbell was an American writer, actor, and screenwriter. He and his wife, Dorothy Parker, were a popular screenwriting team in Hollywood from 1934 to 1963....

, an actor with aspirations of being a screenwriter. Like Parker, he was half-Jewish and half-Scottish. He was reputed to be bisexual—indeed, Parker claimed in public that he was "queer
Queer
Queer is an umbrella term for sexual minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary. In the context of Western identity politics the term also acts as a label setting queer-identifying people apart from discourse, ideologies, and lifestyles that typify mainstream LGBT ...

 as a billy goat". The pair moved to Hollywood and signed ten-week contracts with Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

, with Campbell (who was also expected to act) earning $250 per week and Parker earning $1,000 per week. They would eventually earn $2,000 and in some instances upwards of $5,000 per week as freelancers for various studios. She and Campbell worked on more than 15 films.

In 1936, she contributed lyrics for the song "I Wished on the Moon
I Wished on the Moon
"I Wished on the Moon" is a song composed by Ralph Rainger, with lyrics by Dorothy Parker, for the The Big Broadcast of 1936. It was introduced by Bing Crosby.-Notable recordings:*Ella Fitzgerald and Gordon Jenkins on Decca, a 1955 release...

", with music by Ralph Rainger
Ralph Rainger
Ralph Rainger was an American composer of popular music principally for films.-Biography:Born Ralph Reichenthal in New York City, Rainger embarked on a legal career before escaping to Broadway where he became Clifton Webb's accompanist...

. The song was introduced in The Big Broadcast of 1936
The Big Broadcast of 1936
The Big Broadcast of 1936 is a Paramount Pictures production, directed by Norman Taurog, and is the second in the series of Big Broadcast movies...

by Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

.

With Robert Carson
Robert Carson (writer)
Robert Carson was an American film and television screenwriter, novelist, and short story writer, who won an Academy Award in 1938 for his screenplay of A Star Is Born. He was married to Mary Jane Irving, a former child actress.-Film screenwriting credits:*A Star Is Born, 1937...

 and Campbell, she wrote the script for the 1937 film A Star is Born
A Star Is Born (1937 film)
A Star Is Born is a 1937 Technicolor romantic drama film produced by David O. Selznick and directed by William A. Wellman, with a script by Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell. It stars Janet Gaynor as an aspiring Hollywood actress, and Fredric March as an aging movie star who...

, for which they were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing—Screenplay. She wrote additional dialogue for The Little Foxes
The Little Foxes (film)
The Little Foxes is a 1941 American drama film directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Lillian Hellman is based on her 1939 play of the same name...

in 1941 and received another Oscar nomination, with Frank Cavett, for 1947's Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman
Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman
Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman , also called A Woman Destroyed, is a drama film which tells the story of a nightclub singer who marries a rising singer and falls into alcoholism when she gives up her own career...

, starring Susan Hayward
Susan Hayward
Susan Hayward was an American actress.After working as a fashion model in New York, Hayward travelled to Hollywood in 1937 when open auditions were held for the leading role in Gone with the Wind . Although she was not selected, she secured a film contract, and played several small supporting...

.

After the United States entered the Second World War, Parker and Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Humphreys Woollcott was an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine and a member of the Algonquin Round Table....

 collaborated to produce an anthology of her work as part of a series published by Viking Press
Viking Press
Viking Press is an American publishing company owned by the Penguin Group, which has owned the company since 1975. It was founded in New York City on March 1, 1925, by Harold K. Guinzburg and George S. Oppenheim...

 for servicemen stationed overseas. With an introduction by Somerset Maugham the volume compiled over two dozen of Parker's short stories along with selected poems from Enough Rope, Sunset Gun, and Death and Taxes. It was released in the United States in 1944 under the title The Portable Dorothy Parker. (Woollcott was not alive to see the new edition: he had died in early 1943, aged 56.) Parker's is one of only three of the Portable series (the other two being William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 and The Bible) to remain continuously in print.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Parker became an increasingly vocal advocate of causes like civil liberties and civil rights, and a frequent critic of those in authority. She reported on the Loyalist cause in Spain
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 for the Communist New Masses magazine in 1937. At the behest of Otto Katz, a covert Soviet Comintern agent and operative of German Communist Party agent Willi Muenzenberg, Parker helped to found the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League in 1936. The Hollywood Anti-Nazi League's membership eventually grew to some 4,000 strong, whose often wealthy but mostly unsuspecting members were, in the words of David Caute
David Caute
John David Caute is a British author, novelist, playwright, historian and journalist.Caute was educated at Edinburgh Academy, Wellington, Wadham College, Oxford and St Antony's College, Oxford. A Henry Fellow at Harvard, he was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1959, but resigned in...

, "able to contribute as much to [Communist] Party funds as the whole American working class."

Parker also served as chair of the Joint Anti-Fascist Rescue Committee. She organized Project Rescue Ship to transport Loyalist veterans to Mexico, headed Spanish Children's Relief and lent her name to many other left-wing causes and organizations. Her former Round Table friends saw less and less of her, with her relationship with Robert Benchley being particularly strained (although they would reconcile). Parker met S.J. Perelman at a party in 1932, and despite a rocky start (Perelman called it 'a scarifying ordeal')—they remained friends for the next 35 years, even neighbors, when Sid and Laura Perelman helped Parker and Campbell buy a run-down farm in Bucks County, PA, where many of New York's literati had chosen to settle. "We haven't any roots, Alan" Parker had complained to Campbell.

Her marriage to Campbell was tempestuous, with tensions exacerbated by Parker's increasing alcohol consumption and Alan's long-term affair with a married woman while he was in Europe during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. They divorced in 1947, then remarried in 1950, and remained married (although they lived apart from 1952–1961) until his death in 1963 in West Hollywood.

Parker's final screenplay was The Fan
The Fan (1949 film)
The Fan is a 1949 American drama film directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Dorothy Parker, Walter Reisch, and Ross Evans is based on the 1892 play Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde...

, a 1949 adaptation of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

's Lady Windermere's Fan
Lady Windermere's Fan
Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first produced 22 February 1892 at the St James's Theatre in London. The play was first published in 1893...

, directed by Otto Preminger
Otto Preminger
Otto Ludwig Preminger was an Austro–Hungarian-American theatre and film director.After moving from the theatre to Hollywood, he directed over 35 feature films in a five-decade career. He rose to prominence for stylish film noir mysteries such as Laura and Fallen Angel...

.

Later life


Parker was heard occasionally on radio, including Information Please
Information Please
Information Please was an American radio quiz show, created by Dan Golenpaul, which aired on NBC from May 17, 1938 to April 22, 1951. The title was the contemporary phrase used to request from telephone operators what was then called "information" but is now called "directory assistance".The series...

(as a guest) and Author, Author (as a regular panelist). She wrote for the Columbia Workshop
Columbia Workshop
Columbia Workshop was a radio series that aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System from 1936 to 1943, returning in 1946-47.-Irving Reis:...

, and both Ilka Chase
Ilka Chase
Ilka Chase was an American actress and novelist.Born in New York City and educated at convent and boarding schools in the United States, England, and France, she was the only child of Edna Woolman Chase, the editor in chief of Vogue magazine, and her first husband, Francis Dane Chase.Chase made...

 and Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was an award-winning American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and bonne vivante...

 used her material for radio monologues.

Parker was listed as a Communist by the publication Red Channels
Red Channels
Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television is an anti-Communist tract published in the United States at the height of the Red Scare...

in 1950. The FBI compiled a 1,000-page dossier on her because of her suspected involvement in Communism during the McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 era. As a result, she was placed on the Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

 by the movie studio bosses.

In 1952 Parker moved back to New York, into the Volney residential hotel. She drew upon her experiences there to co-write, with Arnaud d'Usseau, the play Ladies of the Corridor. The play opened in October 1953 to uneven reviews and closed after six weeks.

From 1957 to 1962 she wrote book reviews for Esquire, though these pieces were increasingly erratic owing to her continued abuse of alcohol. One of these reviews had a huge impact on the career of the young Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison
Harlan Jay Ellison is an American writer. His principal genre is speculative fiction.His published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media...

. Reviewing his paperback short story collection Gentleman Junkie and Other Stories of the Hung-Up Generation
Gentleman Junkie and Other Stories of the Hung-Up Generation
Gentleman Junkie and Other Stories of the Hung-Up Generation is an early collection of short stories by Harlan Ellison, originally published in paperback in 1961. Most of the stories were written while Ellison was a draftee in the United States army between 1957 and 1959. These were sold to Rogue...

(Regency, 1961), she described Ellison as "a good, clean, honest writer, putting down what he has seen and known and no sensationalism about it" and lavished praise on his story "Daniel White for the Greater Good," commenting, "It is without exception the best presentation I have ever seen of present racial conditions in the South and of those who try to alleviate them. I cannot recommend it too vehemently.... Incidentally, the other stories in Mr. Ellison's book are not so dusty, either." Her favorable nod gave Ellison a foothold with both mainstream publishers and film producers, and shortly afterwards he headed for Hollywood.

In 1961 Parker returned to Hollywood and reconciled with Campbell. They worked together on a number of unproduced projects; among her last was an unproduced film for Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

. Parker found Campbell dead in their home in 1963, a suicide by drug overdose.

Following Campbell's death, Parker returned to New York City and the Volney. In her later years, she would come to denigrate the group that had brought her such early notoriety, the Algonquin Round Table:
Parker died of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 at the age of 73 in 1967. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 foundation. Following King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Her executrix, Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Florence "Lily" Hellman was an American playwright, linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes...

, bitterly but unsuccessfully contested this disposition. Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O'Dwyer
Paul O'Dwyer
Paul O'Dwyer was an American politician and lawyer, brother of Mayor William O'Dwyer and father to New York City lawyer Brian O'Dwyer .-Life:...

's filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years.

Posthumous honors


In 1988, the NAACP claimed Parker's remains and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. The plaque reads,

On August 22, 1992, the 99th anniversary of Parker's birth, the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 issued a 29¢ U.S. commemorative postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 in the Literary Arts series. The Algonquin Round Table, as well as the number of other literary and theatrical greats who lodged there, helped earn the Algonquin Hotel its status as a New York City Historic Landmark. The hotel was so designated in 1987. In 1996 the hotel was designated a National Literary Landmark by the Friends of Libraries USA based on the contributions of Parker and other members of the Round Table. The organization's bronze plaque is attached to the front of the hotel. Her birthplace was also designated a National Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries USA in 2005 and a bronze plaque marks the spot where the home once stood.

Pastiches and fictional portrayals


Parker was the inspiration for a number of fictional characters in several plays of her day. These included "Lily Malone" in Philip Barry
Philip Barry
Philip James Quinn Barry was an American playwright born in Rochester, New York.-Early life:Philip Barry was born on June 18, 1896 in Rochester, New York to James Corbett Barry and Mary Agnes Quinn Barry. James would die from appendicitis a year after Philip's birth, and his father's marble and...

's Hotel Universe (1932), "Mary Hilliard" (played by Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon Jones , better known as Ruth Gordon, was an American actress and writer. She was perhaps best known for her film roles such as Minnie Castevet, Rosemary's overly solicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, as the eccentric Maude in Harold and Maude and as the mother of Orville Boggs in the...

) in George Oppenheimer's Here Today (1932), "Paula Wharton" in Gordon's 1944 play Over Twenty-one (directed by George S. Kaufman
George S. Kaufman
George Simon Kaufman was an American playwright, theatre director and producer, humorist, and drama critic. In addition to comedies and political satire, he wrote several musicals, notably for the Marx Brothers...

), and "Julia Glenn" in the Kaufman-Moss Hart
Moss Hart
Moss Hart was an American playwright and theatre director, best known for his interpretations of musical theater on Broadway.-Early years:...

 collaboration Merrily We Roll Along (1934). Kaufman's representation of her in Merrily We Roll Along led Parker, once his Round Table compatriot, to despise him. She also appeared as "Daisy Lester" in Charles Brackett
Charles Brackett
Charles William Brackett was an American novelist, screenwriter, and film producer.-Biography:Born on November 26, 1892 in Saratoga Springs, New York, Charles William Brackett was the son of New York State Senator, lawyer, and banker Edgar Truman Brackett...

's 1934 novel Entirely Surrounded.

She has been portrayed on film and television by Dolores Sutton
Dolores Sutton
Dolores Sutton was an American actress, writer and playwright. Born in New York City as Dolores Lila Silverstein to Benjamin and Mary Silverstein, she graduated from New York University in 1948 with a B.A. in Philosophy. Her career spanned seven decades and encompassed television, stage and movie...

 in F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood (1976), Rosemary Murphy
Rosemary Murphy
Rosemary Murphy is an American actress of stage, film, and television.Murphy was born in Munich, Germany, the daughter of American parents Mildred and Robert D. Murphy, a diplomat...

 in Julia (1977), Bebe Neuwirth
Bebe Neuwirth
Beatrice "Bebe" Neuwirth is an American actress, singer and dancer. She has worked in television and is known for her portrayal of Dr. Lilith Sternin, Dr. Frasier Crane's wife , on both the TV sitcom Cheers , and its spin-off Frasier...

 in Dash and Lilly (1999), and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Jennifer Jason Leigh is an American film and stage actress, best known for her roles in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Single White Female, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Georgia and Short Cuts...

 in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is a 1994 film scripted by writer/director Alan Rudolph and former Washington Star reporter Randy Sue Coburn...

(1994). Neuwirth was nominated for an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 for her performance, and Leigh received a number of awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe nomination.

Parker, along with other figures of the era including Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century....

 and George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

, is featured as a character in Act 1, Scene 12 of the stage musical version of Thoroughly Modern Millie
Thoroughly Modern Millie (musical)
Thoroughly Modern Millie is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan. Based on the 1967 film of the same name, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City to marry for...

, "Muzzy's Party Scene."

Further reading

  • John Keats
    John Keats (writer)
    John Keats was an American writer and biographer.- Biography :Keats was born Moultrie, Georgia. He attended the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania before serving in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II.He worked for The Washington Daily News in the 1950s...

    , You Might As Well Live: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970.
  • Marion Meade
    Marion Meade
    Marion Meade is an American biographer and novelist, whose subjects stretch from 12th century French royalty to 20th century stand-up comedians. She is best known for her portraits of literary figures and iconic filmmakers....

    , Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This?. New York: Villard, 1988.
  • Kim Addonizio
    Kim Addonizio
    Kim Addonizio is an award-winning American poet and novelist.-Life:Addonizio is the daughter of tennis champion Pauline Betz and sports writer Bob Addie....

     and Cheryl Dumesnil
    Cheryl Dumesnil
    Cheryl Dumesnil is an American poet and editor. Her work has appeared in Bakunin, Barrow Street, Nimrod, Calyx. Dumesnil was awarded the 2008 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.-References:...

    , eds., Dorothy Parker's Elbow—Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. New York: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Kevin C. Fitzpatrick
    Kevin C. Fitzpatrick
    Kevin C. Fitzpatrick , is a non-fiction writer best known for his research of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.- Biography :...

    , A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York. Berkeley, CA: Roaring Forties Press, 2005.
  • S.J. Perelman, "Dorothy Parker". in The Last Laugh. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1981.

External links