Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Algonquin Who's Who

August 22, 1893-June 7, 1967

Short Bio:
Vanity Fair drama critic, New Yorker critic. Celebrated poet, short-story writer, playwright. Wrote Hollywood screenplays. Champion for social justice.

Longer Bio:
Dorothy Parker—one of the 20th century's most clever, caustic, witty writers—held her own as one of the few women at a table of (almost) equally smart and wisecracking men.

She married stockbroker Edwin Parker when she was in her early 20s. But he was sent immediately to Europe in World War I. By the time he came back, they had grown apart, and Dorothy's career had taken off. As a member of the Algonquin Round Table, she became famous as much for her biting remarks as for her brilliant writing.

A prolific poet and critic, Dorothy published more than 300 poems in the 1920s. The collection of her writing, The Portable Dorothy Parker, has never gone out of print.

In the 1920s and afterward, Dorothy Parker contributed to The New Yorker and Esquire, and even earned two Academy Award screenplay nominations. She took up pet political causes—and numerous pets—and eventually bequeathed her literary estate to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After his assassination, her estate passed to the NAACP. For her tombstone epitaph, she suggested “Excuse My Dust.”

September 15, 1889-November 21, 1945

Short Bio:Vanity Fair managing editor, Life drama editor, humorist and actor in short films.

Longer Bio:
Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor. From his beginnings at the Harvard Lampoon while attending Harvard University, through his many years writing essays and articles for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and his acclaimed short films, Benchley's style of humor brought him respect and success during his life, from New York City and his peers at the Algonquin Round Table to contemporaries in the burgeoning film industry.

Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to The New Yorker, where his essays, whether topical or absurdist, influenced many modern humorists. He also made a name for himself in Hollywood, when his short film How to Sleep was a popular success and won Best Short Subject at the 1935 Academy Awards, and his many memorable appearances in films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent and a dramatic turn in Nice Girl?. His legacy includes written work and numerous short film appearances.

Where they ever really an item? Parker was unhappily married, while Benchley was married, whether unhappily or not is unknown. While J.J. Murphy hints at Parker's feelings for Benchley, and rumors have run for years that they had an affair that might have resulted in one of Parker's pregnancies, nothing can be said for sure. As J.J. says in the afterward of Murder Your Darlings: "Although much is known about these famous figures in the public eye, we can only speculate about some aspects of their private lives. Nevertheless, by all accounts, Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker did not have a romantic relationship, though their close friendship is legendary." So why have an unrequited love story? The feeling of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday? Because it's fiction and we love it! As Parker herself said: " I don’t care what is written about me so long as it isn’t true."


True, we can't be sure about the relationship between Mrs. Parker and Mr. Benchley. However, she made a curious comment about the extremely small office that they once shared: "so tiny that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery."
Great post, Miss Eliza!

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