Some of My Best Leading Men Have Been Dogs and Horses

Elizabeth Taylor? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor was paired with many high-profile costars such as Paul Newman, Richard Burton, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, and James Dean during her long career. Nevertheless, she humorously once said that her best leading men were animals, e.g., dogs and horses. Would please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1981 “The Times” of London published an interview with Elizabeth Taylor conducted by John Higgins who mentioned two of her popular early movies. “Lassie Come Home” told the tale of a determined and resourceful dog. “National Velvet” featured a horse who participated in the Grand National steeplechase. Taylor commented on the films. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Miss Taylor liked both those films. “Did you know that Lassie was a he and not a she?” No, I did not. The question did not cross my mind when I was moved to childish tears on first seeing the picture. “Well, Lassie was a he. And, on reflection, I reckon some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.




Taylor’s remark was noticed, and a few days after the interview appeared the quotation was printed in “The Observer” newspaper of London within a column called “Sayings of the Week”: 2

Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.—Elizabeth Taylor.

The 1985 compilation “Picking on Men: The First Honest Collection of Quotations about Men” by Judy Allen included the quotation with a pointer to the interview in “The Times”. 3

In 1986 the “Palladium-Item” of Richmond, Indiana printed a piece titled “Picking on men is great sport” that reviewed the work by Allen and reprinted the quotation. 4

In 2013 “The Independent” newspaper of London published an article describing the results of a poll of history’s funniest insults. The quotation was listed seventh: 5

7. Elizabeth Taylor: “Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.”

In conclusion, Taylor should be credited with the statement she made during an interview in “The Times” in 1981.

Image Notes: Publicity photo of Elizabeth Taylor. Promotional picture for the 1944 film “National Velvet”. Both pictures accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Images have been cropped and resized.

(Great thanks to the anonymous person who asked about some of the quotations in the article in “The Independent”. Their inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)

Notes:

  1. 1981 February 18, The Times, A challenge for Elizabeth Taylor by John Higgins, Quote Page 18, Column 3, London, England. (The Times Digital Archive Gale Cengage)
  2. 1981 February 22, The Observer, Sayings of the Week, Quote Page 13, Column 7, London, England. (Newspapers_com)
  3. 1986 (Copyright 1985), Picking on Men: The First Honest Collection of Quotations about Men, Compiled by Judy Allen, Chapter: Men At Work, Quote Page 91, Fawcett Gold Medal, New York. (Verified with scans)
  4. 1986 April 8, Palladium-Item, Our opinion: Picking on men is great sport, Quote Page A6, Column 1, Richmond, Indiana. (Newspapers_com)
  5. 2013 October 14, The Independent, ‘My dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly’: Winston Churchill tops poll of history’s funniest insults, London, England. (Accessed www.independent.co.uk on August 7, 2017) link