“I wish I could drink like a lady,
I can take one or two at the most;
Three and I'm under the table,
Four and I'm under the host.”
- Dorothy Parker
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.
Parker went through three marriages (two to the same man) and survived several suicide attempts, but grew increasingly dependent on alcohol. Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a "wisecracker." Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.
Parker died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in 1967. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr foundation. Following King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Her executrix, 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.
Although Dorothy Parker is well known for many witticisms and quotes, some of which have been posted in Bytes previously, I especially like the anecdote about her receipt, whilst on her honeymoon, of a telegram from her editor begging her for work that was overdue. He received her telegram in reply: “Too fucking busy, and vice versa.”