10 Things You Might Not Know About Dorothy Parker

filed under: Lists

1. Parker was born at her parents' beach cottage in Long Branch, New Jersey, 120 years ago today. She liked to say they rushed back to Manhattan after Labor Day so she could be a "true" New Yorker.

2. Her mother died when she was just four; her father remarried two years later. Dorothy was not a fan of her stepmother and refused to call her anything but "the housekeeper." Ouch.

3. She married the same man, Alan Campbell, twice. They were great writing partners but were perhaps no more than that - she often referred to him as "queer as a billy goat."

4. You know she came up with sarcastic quips and biting observations, but she also wrote some rather treacle-y stuff: she was an uncredited screenwriter for It's a Wonderful Life and wrote lyrics for the Bing Crosby song "I Wished on the Moon."

5. Her uncle, Martin Rothschild, died in the great Titanic disaster of 1912.

6. She wrote book reviews for The New Yorker under the pseudonym "Constant Reader." She hated Winnie the Pooh and wrote of The House on Pooh Corner, "Tonstant Weader Fwowed up."

7. She was only 4'11".

8. When she died in 1967, she left her entire estate to the Martin Luther King, Jr., foundation, and then to the NAACP when the Dr. was assassinated.

9. She left her ashes, on the other hand, to playwright Lillian Hellman, who never bothered to collect them. They went unclaimed for years and were passed around rather unceremoniously, spending about 17 years in her lawyer's filing cabinet. The NAACP finally claimed what was left of Ms. Parker and erected a memorial garden in her honor. You can visit her there and read what she suggested for her own epitaph: "Excuse my dust."

10. There's no shortage of Dorothy Parker quotes, of course, but as a writer, I think this one might be my favorite: "I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money."
* * * * * *
Do you have a favorite Dorothy Parker quote?

This story originally appeared on Parker's 117th birthday.

More from mental_floss...

August 22, 2013 - 8:15am
webby
submit to reddit