Wednesday, January 13, 2010 1/13/10 - dorothy parker

In today's excerpt - the vicious wit of
Dorothy Parker, who was the most-quoted of
the literary stars who frequented the
Algonquin roundtable:

"Mrs. Parker was born Dorothy Rothschild in
West End, New Jersey,
on August 22, 1893. She was educated at Miss
Dana's School in
Morristown, New Jersey, and the Sacred Heart
Convent in New
York, and her first publishing job came in
1916 when Vogue, to which
she had submitted some poems, offered to hire
her as a picture-caption
writer at $10 a week. Two years later, she
moved to Vanity Fair,
where her co-editors were the men to whom she
occasionally referred
as 'the two Bobs,' Sherwood and Benchley.

"She was fired in 1920 by
Vanity Fair when three theatrical producers
protested that her
reviews were too tough. ... Sherwood and
Benchley resigned immediately, feeling that the
magazine should not have yielded to the
pressure. Sherwood went on
to Life, and Mrs. Parker and Benchley rented
and shared an office
for a while, trying to survive as free-lance
writers. The office was so
tiny that Mrs. Parker said afterward, 'If
we'd had to sit a few inches
closer together, we'd have been guilty of
adultery.' (The well-known story that they
grew lonely and tried to lure company by
having the word MEN painted on their office
door is, unfortunately,

"The dark-haired, pretty writer was
well-known for lines like, 'If all the girls
at Smith and Bennington were
laid end to end, I wouldn't be surprised,'
and, 'One more drink and
I'd have been under the host.' [Her writing
career was aided greatly by columnist
Franklin Pierce Adams, whom she later
claimed] 'raised her from a couplet.'...

"Dorothy Parker was a cute girl but hardly
lovable; her forte was criticism which really
stung. It was Dorothy
Parker who, commenting on an early and
uninspired performance
by Katharine Hepburn in a Broadway play,
The Lake, said that
the actress 'ran the gamut of emotions from A
to B'; it was also
Dorothy Parker who, feeling dislike for
Countess Margot Asquith
because the Countess had written a book which
seemed too narcissistic, took care of her by
commenting, 'The romance between
Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will live
as one of the great
love affairs of literature,' and adding that
the book was 'in four
volumes, suitable for throwing.' She also
dealt with a drama called
The House Beautiful by calling it 'the
play lousy,' and, during the period in which
she reviewed books under the pseudonym of
Constant Reader, disposed of a book by A. A.
Milne, whose cuteness
and whimsy she abhorred, by writing,
'Tonstant Weader fwowwed up.' "

Scott Meredith, George S. Kaufman and His
Friends, Doubleday, Copyright 1974 by
Playboy, pp. 139, 152-3, 33.


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