The following question was raised by Marketing/Research guru Josh Jordan on Twitter recently: “What person (celebrity, politician, writer, etc) from pre-Twitter days would’ve been an insanely great follow had they been able to tweet?”
The one name that kept popping up was Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), the acid-tongued lady of the Algonquin Round Table fame. Parker, whose most famous quip was probably “What fresh hell is this?” was once asked to use the word “horticulture” in a sentence and she replied, “You can lead a ‘horticulture’ but you can’t make her think.”
Of one woman whose sexual appetite was legendary she said, “That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.” If that isn’t worthy of modern Twitter I don’t know what is.
Parker’s biggest shortcoming was her politics. She embraced Communism in the 1930s and eventually found herself on the Hollywood studios blacklist. Hollywood has been in love with her ever since.
Other names that I came up with were her Vicious Circle compatriots, Robert Benchley (whose grandson Peter would go on to write Jaws), playwright Charles MacArthur (The Front Page), and Franklin P. Adams (The Conning Tower). I also included radio satirist Fred Allen, sports columnist John Kieran and pianist Oscar Levant.*
Levant will be in the news sometime in the next couple of years when Doris Day, now age 96, passes away. It was he who infamously said, “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.”
I thought maybe Bob Hope would be good at it, and most definitely all of Bob Hope’s writers. (I mean, Tweets are nothing more than really, really small cue cards, right?)
Who would you throw on to the list?
*Levant, Adams and Kieran would form the cornerstone of the classic radio quiz show Information Please for over a decade. Episodes can be found here.