I stumbled upon this statement by Cornelia Otis Skinner that
sent me scampering into the Forest of Investigation wailing,
“Women’s virtue is man’s greatest invention.”
Cornelia Otis Skinner (May 30, 1899 – July 9, 1979) was an American author and actress. After studying theater at the Sorbonne in Paris, she began her career on the stage in 1921. She appeared in several plays before embarking on a tour of the United States from 1926 to 1929 in a one-woman performance of short character sketches she wrote herself.
Cornelia wrote numerous short humorous pieces for publications like
The New Yorker. These pieces were eventually compiled into a series of books, including Nuts in May, Dithers and Jitters, Excuse It Please!, and The Ape In Me, among others.
With her childhood friend, Emily Kimbrough, she wrote Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, a comical description of their European adventure after college. Kimbrough and Skinner went to Hollywood to act as consultants on the film version of their book, which resulted in another book, We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood. Skinner was portrayed by Bethel Leslie in the 1950 television series The Girls, based upon Our Hearts Were Young and Gay.
In 1952, Cornelia’s one-woman show, Paris ’90, premiered on Broadway.
In this WNYC studio recording from sometime in the late 1930s
or early 1940s, Cornelia presents one of her trademark pieces,
“Times Square at the Theatre Hour.” An interesting display
of character voices including upper-class English tourists,
working girls, drug addicts and even an Italian vendor,
Cornelia conjures the atmosphere of Times Square.
Audio courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives.