Today is Dorothy Parker’s birthday. A poet, critic, screenwriter and satirist, Parker made a name for herself by writingly darkly witty and vicious essays and poems. She began her career as a journalist, writing for outlets like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, before coming into her own as a poet and author. And eventually moved to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter, where she penned the Oscar-nominated “A Star Is Born” and “Smash Up: The Story Of A Woman.” She was known for her morbid, salacious humor. Witness her poem Résumé:
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
She was one of the few female members of the literary superstar group the Algonquin Roundtable, where she entertained members with her witty rejoinders. Stuff like, “”You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think..” Naturally, Parker was terribly troubled, too. She battled depression for much of her life, and was unlucky in love. In her later years, she became an ardent civil rights activist, and in her death bequeathed her estate to the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation.
Parker would have hated being considered a style icon, of that we’re pretty sure. But nevertheless, we think her chic, writerly style is definitely worth emulated. So here’s to you, Mrs. Parker.
*We don’t advocate smoking, but a cigarette holder can be a fun prop.