I Don’t Pay Them To Come Over; I Pay Them To Go Away

Charlie Sheen? Don Simpson? Dashiell Hammett? Adela Rogers St. Johns? Clark Gable? Charles Fleming? Stephen J. Cannell? Susan Kelly? Germaine Greer? Ian Ayres? Joy Fielding? Jack Nicholson?

Dear Quote Investigator: Attractive, wealthy, and famous people sometimes obtain intimate services via the underground commercial market. This behavior is surprising because these individuals should be able to easily find willing partners. Here are three versions of an explanation:

  • I don’t pay them to come over; I pay them to go away.
  • I don’t pay them for carnal encounters. I pay them to leave.
  • You don’t pay a call girl to do what she does. You pay her to leave afterward.

This saying has been ascribed to the actor Charlie Sheen, the movie producer Don Simpson, and the mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, but I have not found any solid citations. Would you please explore the provenance of this statement?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the 1978 memoir “Love, Laughter and Tears: My Hollywood Story” by the journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns. A chapter of the work discussed the matinée idol Clark Gable who died in 1960. St. Johns claimed that she was surprised to learn that Gable employed high-priced prostitutes, and she asked him about his motivations. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

His attitude was fairly simple, as he explained it to me one day when he confessed that the lady I had seen leaving was, indeed, an expensive import from Madam Frances’ establishment.

“Why would you do a thing like that,” I said, “when all you have to do is whistle? Or grin?”

“That’s why,” he said. “I can pay her to go away. The others stay around, want a big romance, movie lovemaking. I do not want to be the world’s great lover and I don’t like being put on that spot.”

The viewpoint depicted above matched the statement under investigation, and the words matched the second half of the statement.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Don’t Pay Them To Come Over; I Pay Them To Go Away

Notes:

  1. 1979 (Copyright 1978), Love, Laughter and Tears: My Hollywood Story by Adela Rogers St. Johns, Chapter 8: The Magnificent Gable, Quote Page 316 and 317, A Signet Book: New American Library, New York. (Verified with scans)

Cocaine Isn’t Habit-Forming. I Should Know. I’ve Been Using It for Years

Tallulah Bankhead? Lillian Hellman? Dashiell Hammett? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The most obtuse quotation I know of was uttered by the actress Tallulah Bankhead whose erratic behavior caused Dashiell Hammett, the well-known author of popular detective novels, to complain about her drug use. Bankhead reportedly defended herself with the following parodic remark:

I tell you cocaine isn’t habit-forming and I know because I’ve been taking it for years.

Was this really spoken by Bankhead?

Quote Investigator: In 1952 “Tallulah: My Autobiography” was released by the movie star, and she wrote about her experiences with heroin and cocaine. Bankhead stated that when she was young she wished to shock people, but she was not really an addict. For example, when she was offered a drink at a party she sometimes responded with: 1

“No, thank you. I don’t drink. Got any cocaine?” Thus did I start the myth that I was an addict.

Eventually, in the 1920s, she did tentatively experiment with drugs. She snorted heroin which she was told incorrectly was cocaine, and it made her extremely ill. Because or her bad experience she stated: 2

I’ve never touched either since except medicinally.

Indeed, she did use cocaine therapeutically to maintain her voice according to her own account. Her desire to appear scandalous led her to formulate the comical and infamous quotation. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 3

In London, when I had one of my frequent attacks of the actor’s nightmare, laryngitis, Sir Milson Reese, the King’s doctor, sprayed my throat with a solution laced with cocaine. It stimulated my larynx, relieved strain on my vocal chords, reduced my chances of becoming mute during a performance.

At Boots, the London chemists, where I presented the prescription, I was given a bottle of pale little lozenges, labeled “Cocaine and Menthol.” Obsessed with the desire to shock people, I whipped the vial out at every opportunity. I’d hold it out to my friends: “Have some cocaine?” “Tallulah, isn’t it habit-forming?” “Cocaine habit-forming? Of course not. I ought to know. I’ve been using it for years.”

A different story about the quotation has been told by Bankhead’s one-time-friend Lillian Hellman who was a notable Broadway playwright. Hellman’s account was given in the 1973 memoir “Pentimento” which is excerpted further below. The dramatist suggested that Bankhead did have a serious drug dependency.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Cocaine Isn’t Habit-Forming. I Should Know. I’ve Been Using It for Years

Notes:

  1. 1952, Tallulah: My Autobiography by Tallulah Bankhead, Quote Page 98, Published by Harper & Brothers, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1952, Tallulah: My Autobiography by Tallulah Bankhead, Quote Page 101, Published by Harper & Brothers, New York. (Verified on paper)
  3. 1952, Tallulah: My Autobiography by Tallulah Bankhead, Quote Page 100 and 101, Published by Harper & Brothers, New York. (Verified on paper)