Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Dorothy Parker: An Extraordinary Wit!!!
Dear Ms. Parker: We miss your witty repartee, the famous Algonquin Round Table compatriots Woollcott, Benchley, Kaufman and other notables. Yours was a decidedly magical circle of like minded authors, poets, theater critics and motion picture writers---all characters in their own right who live on in the collective memory of those who aspire to be writers. Your admirer, Polly Check SpellingGuerin
DOROTHY PARKER: What can we say about Dottie that you don't already know? Although her accomplishments spanned many venues she was most famous as a sharp tongued wit. Upon finding herself pregnant by a lover she merely remarked, "Serves me Right for keeping all my eggs in one bastard," or "Brevity is the soul of lingerie," and my favorite,"The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'cheque enclosed,'"One of the most successful things she did was to fall in with the likes of Robert Benchly and Alexander Woollcott. These three were the original founders of the Algonquin Round Table and other notable characters of the day joined in. As the cognoscenti listened and the newspapers quoted their every remark of witticism the fame of the round table participants escalated into heroic proportions.Dorothy Parker's celebrity was a self-made phenomenon, though her last name was Rothschild, there was no connection to the banking royals. She had a modest background residing in the summer in Long Branch, New Jersey and also on the Upper West Side in New York City. Life dealt some sad blows at an early age. Parker was orphaned at five years old when her mother, Annie (nee Marston) of Scottish descent died. She never liked her stepmother, Eleanor, and insisted on referring to her as "the housekeeper," and I wonder if she ever said that to Eleanor's face. Her father, Jacob Henry Rothschild of German-Jewish descent, did not fare any better as she quite frankly detested him as well. That did not last long because her stepmother died when Parker was nine and her father died when she was thirteen. One wonders how she managed, but legend has it that she played piano at a dancing school to earn her keep whilst she was continually working on her poetry. Poetry opened the door to other opportunities. She sold her first poem to Vanity Fair magazine in 1914 which caused the attention of Conde Nast magazine, Vogue, where she worked as an editorial assistant. As would have it in a fledgling but talented career Parker moved on to Vanity Fair and later to Vogue, where she no doubt wrote that editorial caption, "Brevity is the soul of lingerie." Parker's caustic wit caught on with national acclaim as did he feature articles, short stories and most notable among her vast output is "Enough Rope," and "Big Blonde." A stint in Hollywood as a screen writer with her then husband, Alan Campbell collaborated on the script for the 1937 film, A Star is Born, for which they were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing-Screenplay. Parker is noted for her celebrated love affairs, but notable are her three marriages, the first in 1917 to Wall Street stock broker,Edwin Pond Parker II was short lived, and although she divorced Campbell she did remarry him, making three marriages in a busy career. In Parker's later years she became politically active and when called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, she remarked to a startled audience, "Listen, I can't even get my dog to say down. Do I look like someone who could overthrow the government." Parker lived a long a productive life, accompanied in the end by her dog and her alcoholic dementia. After her death on a sunny day in 1967 at the age of 73 her will revealed that she had bequeathed her estate to D. Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation, and after King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Sadly, Parker's ashes due to some unexplainable flaw remained in her attorney's filing cabinet for l7 years. For a celebrated American writer and amazing wit this was an incredible ending. Righting this wrong the NAACP claimed Parker's remains and created a memorial garden 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 dedicate to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people. October 28, 1988."So adieu Dottie, dear Dorothy Parker, remarkable and original wit, poet, author, screenwriter and wordsmith par excellance. We sure do miss you.
Labels: Algonquin Round Table Wit, Poet, Author

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