Dorothy Parker

Brevity is the soul of lingerie. ~ Dorothy Parker

Dorothy ParkerDorothy Parker was born on August 22, 1893 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and died on June 7, 1967 in New York City. She was a satirical poet, critic, and author of short stories. She is best known for her dry wit, subtle pessimism, and critical eye.

Parker spent most of her childhood in New York City.  Her mother died in 1898, and her father remarried shortly after. Despite having a Jewish father and Protestant stepmother, Parker attended a Roman Catholic grade school, but was asked to leave after she referred to the Immaculate Conception as the “spontaneous combustion.”  Parker later attended a finishing school until age thirteen, after which she left school, played piano at a dance school, and focused on her writing.

As a young writer, Parker worked for Vogue as an editorial assistant when she was only twenty one years old and then for Vanity Fair as a staff writer at age twenty three.  She married Edwin Pond Parker, II, a Wall Street stockbroker, in 1917.

Dorothy Parker’s career expanded to theatre criticism when she started filling in for Vanity Fair’s staff theatre writer in 1918. After only two years, Vanity Fair terminated Parker from theatre criticism, claiming her reviews were offending producers. Around this time, Parker became part of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers that met for lunch almost daily at the Algonquin hotel.

In the 1920s and 30s, Parker became a founding editor of The New Yorker magazine.  During these years, hundreds of her satirical and witty poems were published in both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

Parker divorced her husband during her New Yorker tenure, married an actor and aspiring screenwriter named Alan Campbell, and the two moved to Hollywood, California. Parker was incredibly successful in California, sometimes earning over $5,000 per week in the 1930s as a freelance screen- and lyric-writer.  While in California, Parker also helped found the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, which grew to over 4,000 members.

In 1947, Parker divorced Campbell, but they remarried in 1950. They separated again in 1952, remaining legally married, and Parker moved back to New York City while Campell stayed in West Hollywood.  As a result of her affiliations with the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and other leftwing political groups, Parker was blacklisted in the Red Channels and in the Hollywood blacklist. Parker returned to Hollywood once again for a few years to reconcile with Campbell, who ultimately committed suicide.  Finally, in 1961, Parker moved back to New York City, residing there until she died of a heart attack in 1967.

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