Formidable Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker as a young woman. With her pensive expression, I often wonder what she was thinking during this photograph. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes I think writer Dorothy Parker and comedian Dennis Miller (back in his “Saturday Night Live” days) would have a lot in common if they had ever met. Both are known for their satiric sense of humor; you gasp at their outrageousness while being consumed with helpless laughter at the truth of what they say.

Dorothy Parker was multi-talented: a poet, a short story writer, a critic and a satirist. She was also a master of the classic put-down and not afraid to speak her mind. One of my reference books has a great story about Dorothy and Clare Boothe Luce, another writer and diplomat. Both were in a room together and heading out a door. Clare stepped aside and gestured for Dorothy to go first, saying “Age before beauty.” Dorothy looked at her and swept through the door, responding, “Pearls before swine.”

President Calvin Coolidge had a reputation for saying very little; his nickname was “Silent Cal.” When Dorothy Parker heard of the President’s death, she asked, “How can they tell?”

Mostly I remember the story about her and the Algonquin Round Table. Dorothy Parker and others in the literary and theatrical world would go for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York and used a special table. They had a reputation for trading wit and wisecracks. According to the story I heard, Dorothy had this group of grown men absolutely terrified to leave the table because of what she would say about them. (And you think words don’t have power?)

She also had some gems of quotes. Here are some for your entertainment:

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people He gave it to.

Years are only garments, and you either wear them with style all your life, or else you go dowdy to your grave.

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.

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.

I’ve never been a millionaire but I know I’d be darling at it.

 The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.

That woman speaks 18 languages and can’t say “No” in any of them.

You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.

 

 

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16 Comments

Filed under Writing

16 responses to “Formidable Dorothy Parker

  1. I have stayed at the Algonquin and would love to have been at the round table with Dorothy Parker.

  2. I loved Dorothy Parker. Particularly at the time that she lived, she could hold her own against the guys.

  3. Some of her poetry is so sharp I’m surprised it’s doesn’t cut the paper it’s printed on. Isn’t she the one who came up with the famous line “men don’t passes at girls who wear glasses?”

  4. Dorothy Parker has got to be the most quotable author ever. She always makes me smile. Pity her wit never translated for her into personal happiness.

    I could live without Dennis Miller. I just find him annoying, like a bug that I can’t quite swat.

  5. I love the money quote. Still laughing!

  6. Impybat

    Haha, she was hilarious. I’m reading “The Portable Dorothy Parker” right now.

  7. Love Dorothy Parker! Alexander Woolcott….amazing people!

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