Category Archives: Sarah Bernhardt

An Empty Carriage Drove Up To the Théâtre Français and Sarah Bernhardt Alighted From It

Target: Sarah Bernhardt? Alexander H. Stephens?

Dear Quote Investigator: Complaints about the body shapes of people in the public eye have a very long history. Small and thin individuals have sometimes been targeted with the following type of quip:

An empty vehicle rolled up to the hotel and so-and-so got out of it.

Would you please explore the history of this joke?

Quote Investigator: Sarah Bernhardt was a prominent French stage actress who was notably thin. A quip circulating in France was printed in a New York newspaper in May 1879. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

. . . only yesterday, says a correspondent, you may read in the same paper a fragment of conversation as follows: “An empty carriage stops and who is it who steps out? Sarah Bernhardt.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1879 May 31, Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, Table Talk, Quote Page 2, Column 4, Buffalo, New York. (Newspapers_com)