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Letter: Memories of the immortal Dorothy

Sir: The Reggie Nadelson piece about Dorothy Parker ('Age cannot wither her . . .', 23 July) gave me much pleasure.

I knew Mrs Parker. I was employed at Paramount Pictures during one of her stints there. And she was occasionally a neighbour of mine. I took her in my car to the undertaking establishment in which Scott Fitzgerald's remains were on display.

When Mrs Parker married Alan Campbell, her second husband, they received permission from the then head of the studio to take a week off from work for a honeymoon at Lake Arrowhead. Three weeks later when the couple had not returned, the boss's secretary was instructed to telephone the inn at Arrowhead at which the couple were staying. 'The boss wants to know what has kept you from returning to work.' 'Tell him,' said Mrs P, 'that I've been too fucking busy and vice versa.'

During her heady days in New York in the Twenties, she got into a taxi to go wherever it was she wanted to go, but some parade or street works or something else caused the taxi to be diverted. She suddenly realised they were in 10th Avenue and there at the dock was the Berengaria. It was then 11.30pm and she knew the Berengaria would be sailing at midnight. 'I'll get out here,' she told the cab driver, and out she got, made a dash for the Berengaria and went aboard.

When the ship arrived at Southampton, she was met by a press anxious to know what she would be doing in Britain. 'I came on the spur of the moment,' she said, 'and haven't worked out a schedule (skedule in the American pronunciation) yet.' 'Mrs Parker,' one journalist reminded her, 'We say shedule here.' 'Oh, skit,' was her rejoinder.

Yours faithfully,


London, W2

24 July