Born Dorothy Rothschild and raised in New York City, Parker worked early on for a number of magazines, including Vogue and Vanity Fair. She developed a reputation for cutting wit and a devastating ability to craft the perfect phrase—a reputation enhanced when Franklin Piece Adams began quoting her conversation in his New York Tribune column, "The Conning Tower"—and was for many the very model of the emancipated woman. At The New Yorker, she wrote a regular column, "Constant Reader," published poems and stories, and was a highly visible figure on the New York literary scene. During the 1930s, she moved to Hollywood and wrote screenplays, helped to found the Screen Writers Guild, and continued the leftist political work she had begun in the 1920s, when she supported Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants falsely accused of murder. She was an open communist, though by self-declaration rather than party membership, traveling to Spain in support of the Spanish Republic, taking a strong stand against fascism, and supporting civil rights. For all this she was blacklisted by the end of the 1940s and spent some years in isolation. Implicated in her wit is often a rather bleak view of both human relations and modern life.