Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
A woman who can come up with bon mots like ‘Brevity was the soul of lingerie,’ or’ Men seldom make pass at girls who wear glasses,’ must have had lively company and will not settle for a house in the suburbs changing diapers or fetching shoes for her ‘man in gray flannel suit.’ Dorothy Parker born of a Jewish father and a Scottish mother was a member of the Algonquin Round Table set. She could hold her own with literary heavyweights like George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woolcott, Ring Lardner, Ogden Nash and the like. She definitely settled down but married thrice, twice to the same man. She wrote copies for Vogue at $10 a week and also reported Spanish civil war, wrote short stories and Hollywood film scripts. She lived to the last, an exception to the general role of a woman as species, ‘short on logic and long on window-shopping’. Before her death she bequeathed most of her estate to Martin Luther King.
Dorothy Parker once bumped into a lady in the doorway of ’21’. She stepped back and motioned for for Dorothy to exit first, saying, “Age before beauty.” Pat came her retort, ”Pearls before swine”as she went out.
Once at the Round Table, Alexander Woolcott called Franklin P. Adam, “You goddamn Christ Killer”. As he had intended the company laughed. Dorothy Parker who was half Jew and who had tried to hide the fact, said nothing. Kaufman taking note of her silence, and in mock fury said, “I’ve heard enough slur on my race. I am now leaving this table, this dining room, and this hotel.” A pause. Looking at Mrs. Parker he added, “and I trust that Mrs. Parker will walk out with me, half- way.”