Fanny Brice? Beatrice Kaufman? Joe E. Lewis? Sophie Tucker? Johnny Hyde? Jack Herbert? Harold Gray? Bernice Fitz-Gibbon? Bob Mankoff?
Dear Quote Investigator: A newly wealthy person sometimes feels sentimental about an earlier period of poverty. Yet, one well-heeled individual unapologetically proclaimed:
I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. And, believe me, rich is better.
These words have been ascribed to entertainer Fanny Brice, singer Sophie Tucker, comedian Joe E. Lewis, writer Beatrice Kaufman, and others. What do you think?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in May 1937 in the popular syndicated gossip column of Leonard Lyons who credited the writer Beatrice Kaufman. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
At the Tavern Mrs. George S. Kaufman urges a noted theatrical figure to accept the movie offers being tendered him. “Listen, and take my advice,” she urges. “Don’t overlook the money part of it. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better!”
The above citation was listed in the important reference works “The Yale Book of Quotations” 2 and “The Quote Verifier”. 3 Kaufmann is the leading candidate for creator of this remark although in subsequent years it was employed by many others. Even columnist Lyons credited multiple people.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading
- 1937 May 12, The Washington Post, The Post’s New Yorker by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 13,Washington, D.C. (ProQuest) ↩
- 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section: Beatrice Kaufman, Quote Page 415, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified with hardcopy) ↩
- 2006, The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes, Quote Page 179, St Martin’s Griffin, New York. (Verified on paper) ↩