Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her 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 and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist.
Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a "wisecracker". Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.
After the United States entered the Second World War, Parker and Alexander Woollcott collaborated to produce an anthology of her work as part of a series published by Viking Press 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. Parker's is one of only three of the Portable series (the other two being William Shakespeare and The Bible) to remain continuously in print.
Parker died on June 7, 1967, of a heart attack at the age of 73. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Following King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Her executor, Lillian Hellman, bitterly but unsuccessfully contested this disposition. Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O'Dwyer's filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years.
In 1988, the NAACP claimed Parker's remains and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. The plaque reads,
Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic. Defender of human and civil rights. For her epitaph she suggested, 'Excuse my dust'. This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people. Dedicated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. October 28, 1988.
In 2014, Parker was elected to the New Jersey Hall of Fame.(Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A girl's best friend is her mutter.
Age before beauty... and pearls before swine.
All those writers who write about their childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn't sit in the same room with me.
As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you'll live through the night.
Authors and actors and artists and such
Never know nothing, and never know much.
Better be left by twenty dears
Than lie in a love-less bed;
Better a loaf that's wet with tears,
Than cold, unsalted bread.
Brevity is the soul of lingerie.
Constant use had not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship.
Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)
Ducking for apples- change one letter and it's the story of my life.
Every love is the love before
In a duller dress.
Every year back comes Spring, with nasty little birds, yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.
Excuse my dust. (Proposed epitaph for herself)
Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I'd have been better without:
love, curiosity, freckles and doubt.
Her golden rule is plain enough-
Just get them young and treat them rough.
Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common.
I hate almost all rich people, but I think I'd be darling at it.
I hate women. They get on my nerves.
I hate writing, I love having written.
I know that there are things that never have been funny, and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon.
I require three things in a man. He must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.
I should have stayed at home for dinner. I could have had something on a tray. The head of John the Baptist, or something.
I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. But if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money.
I'm never going to accomplish anything; that's perfectly clear to me. I'm never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don't do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don't even do that any more.
If I didn't care for fun and such,
I'd probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.
If I don't drive around the park,
I'm pretty sure to make my mark.
If I'm in bed each night by ten,
I may get back my looks again.
If I abstain from fun and such,
I'll probably amount to much;
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.
If I had any decency, I'd be dead. Most of my friends are.
(at age 70)
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.
If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.
It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.
(Upon entering the hospital for an abortion.)
It's a small apartment, I've barely enough room to lay a hat and a few friends.
It's not the tragedies that kill us, it's the messes.
Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.
Money cannot buy health, but I'd settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.
Now I know the things I know, and I do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you!
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Oh, seek my love, your newer way;
I'll not be left in sorrow.
So long as I have yesterday,
Go take your damned tomorrow!
One more drink and I'd have been under the host.
People Who Do Things exceed my endurance;
God, for a man that solicits insurance!
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart.
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.
She looks like something that would eat its young.
She wore a low but futile decolletage.
Some men tear your heart in two,
Some men flirt and flatter,
Some men never look at you,
And that clears up the matter.
Take me or leave me; or, as is the usual order of things, both.
That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can't say No in any of them.
That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.
The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of their tires.
The only 'ism' Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.
The place was filled with people who looked as if they had been scraped out of drains.
The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'check enclosed.'
Their pooled emotions wouldn't fill a teaspoon.
There are those who, in their pride and their innocence, dedicate their careers to writing humorous pieces. Poor dears, the world is stacked against them from the start, for everybody in it has the right to look at their work and say, 'I don't think that's funny.'
There's a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.
They sicken of the calm, who know the storm.
This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.
Three highballs, and I think I'm St. Francis of Assisi.
Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
'Union' is spelled with five letters. It is not a four-letter word.
What fresh hell can this be?
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.
You can't teach an old dogma new tricks.
(August 22 is also the birthday of Ray Bradbury.)