When they told her that the taciturn ex-President Calvin Coolidge was dead, she said, “How could they tell?”
Dorothy Parker never like the monicker or the reputation she had acquired as a “wisecracker,” but that is indeed what she was. She was more, however. She was a poet, critic, screenwriter, and political activist, and as a writer she had a major impact on her time and place.
She was also a victim of alcoholism and depression and deal with these conditions for most of her adult life. She made several attempts at suicide — most of them thought to be half-hearted — and went through many broken relationships. Her leftwing politics eventually got her blacklisted from Hollywood.
All the while, she continued to write and crack wise:
The fact was that Dorothy Parker was a good writer, maybe even a great one. She received two Academy nominations for her screenplays, and her poetry is still read and honored. She died in 1967, but she is not forgotten. (For more on Parker and other off-kilter writers, check out Andrew Shafer’s Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors.)
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