Dorothy Parker long gone, but her quotes live on


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”

Dorothy Parker said that. But when she died on June 7, 1967 from a heart attack there was no tombstone. In fact, she bequeathed her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., later passed on to the NAACP after King was killed.

Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O’Dwyer’s filing cabinet, for about 17 years. Her cremains now are in Baltimore at the NAACP headquarters.

Parker came to be known for her rapier wit, her writings in newspapers and magazines and eventually her screenwriting, including “A Star is Born.” She was a founding member of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table of writers and wits, which she later denigrated.

“There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit,” she said. “Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.”

To this day, people often quote Dorothy Parker, though they may not know it.Here are some of her best-known quotes:“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.” “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” “Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart.”“You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.”

Speaking of Katharine Hepburn: “She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.”“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

Dorothy Parker was also known for her short verse, including these:“By the time you swear you’re his,Shivering and sighing.And he vows his passion is,Infinite, undying.Lady make note of this —One of you is lying.”“I like to have a martini,Two at the very most.After three I’m under the table,after four I’m under my host.”

Dorothy Parker was an American original. She was 73 when she died. At her memorial in Baltimore, another epitaph she suggested was included: “Excuse my dust.”

This is the resting place of Dorothy Parker's ashes at the NAACP Headquarters in Baltimore. (Photo by Kathy Gadziala, posted on

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