• Ryanne Harper

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Parker!


Dorothy Parker was an American poet, short story writer, satirist, and critic who is best known for her quick wit. She began writing for Vanity Fair in 1918 where she met Robert Benchley and Robert Sherwood. The three became close friends, often eating lunch at the Algonquin Hotel. They eventually formed the Algonquin Round Table, basically a group of witty writers who all worked for elite magazines. Though she was known for her harsh criticisms, she was eventually fired from Vanity Fair when her work began hurting the feelings of Hollywood producers. In solidarity, the two Roberts quit and the three of them went into Freelance work. Way ahead of their time, Parker and Benchley were doing celebrity combo names way back before they were cool. They chose "ParkBench (Parker + Benchley = Park Bench) as their cablegram address, which is actually cute, unlike Bennifer, which is just pronouncing Jennifer incorrectly. They leased a tiny office that could barely fit two desks. "An inch smaller and it would have been adultery," Dorothy Parker said. When The New Yorker was founded in 1925, she and Benchley were on the board of editors.

In 1932, she began working on screenplays with aspiring actor, Alan Campbell. The two worked on several films together but, Dorothy's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement made her a bit of an outcast and even landed her on the list of Hollywood communists. Dorothy was so involved with the Civil Rights Movement that, upon her death in 1967, her estate was transferred to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, Dorothy's estate then transferred to the NAACP. Her last wishes were contested by her estate's executor, to no avail. She was cremated and her ashes remained, unclaimed, in her attorney's filing cabinet until 1988. Finally, the NAACP was able to claim the ashes and estate of Dorothy Parker and they erected the following monument:

"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

Dorothy Parker was famous for her wit and quips. Here are a few of my favorite:

"The cure for boredom is curiosity; there is no cure for curiosity"

"I've never been a millionaire, but I bet I'd be a darling at it"

"This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it."

"I love to drink Martinis, two at the very most, three I’m under the table, four I’m under the host."

In addition to her wit, Dorothy was also known for her drinking. Her drink of choice was a Martini.

Signature drink: Martini Recipe:

2 oz. Gin

1/4 oz. Dry Vermouth

1/8 oz. olive brine

3 green olives (add or remove olives to your taste)

small wedge of lemon (optional)

Today would have also been my grandma's birthday. While not famous for it, she, much like Parker, was also pretty quick-witted. I like to think I inherited my sarcasm and wit from her.


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