Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Dotty Parker: "Excuse my dust"

The great wit Dorothy Parker gave herself two epitaphs: "Excuse my dust" and "This one's on me".

There's an interesting little tale about Dorothy Parker's dust. She was cremated on 9th June 1967 in Hartsdale but her friend Lilian Hellman (maybe because she was upset that Dotty had left her estate to Dr Martin Luther King and not to her), left the ashes at the crematorium and for six years they sat there on a shelf. The crematorium then sent the ashes to Dotty's lawyer's offices, where they remained in a filing cabinet for fifteen years. Someone then remembered them again and they were given to the charity which (on the death of King), became her principal beneficiary and they interred them, on 20th October 1988, in a dedicated memorial garden, under a plaque which actually mentions "Excuse my dust".

My favourite Dotty story concerns a neighbour who visited her just after her second husband died of a drug overdose. The neighbour asked whether there was anything she could do and Dorothy Parker replied "Get me a new husband". The neighbour told Dorothy Parker that this was the most shocking thing that she had ever heard and Dorothy Parker then said:

"Well, then, run down to the corner and get me a ham and cheese on rye - but tell them to hold the mayonnaise."


  1. Thanks for the post! It is fun to see what people think about famous women. I really enjoyed what you had to say here about Dotty Parker. Have you ever seen a famous woman ride an arabian horse? It always looks very elegant.

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