Women’s History: Dorothy Parker

22 Aug

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Parker

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Parker. Parker is best known for her writing and her sharp wit.  I think I probably became a fan of Parker’s back when I learned that her leftist politics caused her to be blacklisted; she had to appear  before the House on Un-American Activities in the 1950s.

Before moving to Hollywood to become a screenwriter, Parker was a Broadway critic for the New Yorker.  The original A Star is Born is one of her most famous screenplays, which was nominated for an Academy Award.  She was also a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table.  She once described her early writing as, “following in the exquisite footsteps of Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers.”

As with many witty talented people, Parker’s personal life was fraught with struggles, not the least of which were three marriages and being blacklisted–not a small wonder she had a problem with the drink. Another reason why TSM wanted to celebrate Parker was for her commitment to social justice.  Parker helped found the  Hollywood Anti-Nazi League in 1936 and served as chair of the Joint Anti-Fascist Rescue Committee.

Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.–Dorothy Parker

2 Responses to “Women’s History: Dorothy Parker”

  1. Jennifer Lockett August 22, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    I hope that many of your readers recognize how scandalous and potentially devistating her involvement in the ‘anti-Nazi’ league could have been in 1936. At that time, Third Reich politics and anti-semitism were ‘en vogue’ in Hollywood. It was brave individuals like her and Charlie Chaplin (with “The Great Dictator”) that put the realities of Nazism in the spotlight. It’s also one of those historical relevences that Hollywood has nearly successfully buried.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      Jen, thank you for adding this great piece of history about Third Reich politics and anti-semitism in Hollywood.

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