Of Dorothy Parker

by Robert Crowe

The name of Dorothy Parker is no longer recognized by the general public and no longer strikes fear in the hearts of those who might wander into her sights. Too many years have passed … and so has she.

Dorothy Parker was a writer of poems, movies, short stories; she was a literary critic of plays, books and any other literature that became her target. Parker was born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893, in Long Branch, New Jersey. She was intelligent, highly educated and equipped with a wit and a desire to use it. She said of herself, “Every morning I brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

Following are a few of her comments:

  • “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of ‘The Elements of Style.’ The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
  • “I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money.”
  • “I hate writing, I love having written.”
  • “By the time you swear you’re his,
    Shivering and sighing,
    And he vows his passion is
    Infinite, undying.
    Lady, make a note of this:
    One of you is lying.”

  • “The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.”

  • I don’t care what is written about me so long as it isn’t true.
  • I’ve never been a millionaire but I just know I’d be darling at it.
  • Upon reviewing a novel: “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
  • The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
  • On the acting of Katherine Hepburn: “She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.
  • “This book wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”
  • “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”
  • Reviewing the Channing Pollock play, “The House Beautiful”: “’The House Beautiful’ is, for me, the play lousy.”
  • President Calvin Coolidge (Silent Cal) was known as a man of few words. In 1933, Dorothy Parker was told that Coolidge had died, “How do they know?” she asked.
  • Author-politician Clare Booth Luce and Parker were at a social gathering and about to enter another room. “Age before beauty,” said Luce pointing to the door. “And pearls before swine,” replied Parker as she floated through the doorway.

A lifelong heavy drinker, she died alone and in poverty on June 7, 1967 (age 73), in New York City. She requested the epitaph on her tombstone: “Excuse my dust.”

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