I Never Liked the Men I Loved, and Never Loved the Men I Liked

Fanny Brice? Fannie Hurst? Norman Katkov? Ray Stark? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Falling in love with someone occurs because of unconstrained desires and emotions. The decision is not based on clearsighted logic and rationality. In retrospect, an infatuation might seem foolish or destructive. An unhappy humorist once commented on this behavior. Here are two versions:

  • I never liked the men I loved, and never loved the men I liked.
  • I never liked the man I loved, and never loved the man I liked.

These statements illustrate antimetabole, the elegant repetition of clauses containing transposed words. Would you please tell me who deserves credit for this saying?

Quote Investigator: Fanny Brice was a popular comedienne, singer, and actress who died in 1951. In 1953 journalist and scriptwriter Norman Katkov published a biography titled “The Fabulous Fanny”. Brice’s three marriages ended in divorce. Her second husband was a gambler who served time in prison. The following excerpt presented her thoughts on love. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

“When you’re young,” she continued, “you make pictures in your head, you have ideas. You pick the type guy you want. But if I went to a party, and there was one no-good bastard in the room, I’d go for him right away. It’s so funny: for my friends I must have admiration and I must respect them. In fact, I never liked the men I loved, and never loved the men I liked.”

The book was based on many hours of recordings made by Brice in 1951 for a future memoir. This plan was derailed by the comedienne’s death in 1953, and Katkov was commissioned to create an authorized biography. 2 The accuracy of this quotation depends on the veracity of Katkov. Several later instances of this quotation can be traced back to this book.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Never Liked the Men I Loved, and Never Loved the Men I Liked

Notes:

  1. 1953, The Fabulous Fanny: The Story of Fanny Brice by Norman Katkov, Chapter 7: Nick Arnstein, Quote Page 89, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1968 September 15, The New York Times, ‘Come On, Let’s Stop a Minute To See Snooks’ by Ray Stark, Quote Page D15, New York. (ProQuest)

Giving Birth Is Like Pushing a Piano Through a Transom

Fanny Brice? Alice Roosevelt Longworth? Beatrice Lillie? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Giving birth to a child is an intense physical ordeal. A witty woman employed the following simile:

Having a baby is like trying to push a grand piano through a transom.

This remark has been attributed to the prominent Washington socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth and to the popular comedienne and actress Fanny Brice. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote investigator: In 1919 Fanny Brice gave birth to her first child Frances. A pregnant friend contacted Brice to learn about her experience. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

A few days after Frances was born, Irene Castle, who was expecting a baby within a few weeks, called Fanny at the hospital on Long Island. “How does it feel, Fanny?” she asked anxiously.

“Like pushing a piano through a transom,” Fanny replied.

The passage above appeared in the 1953 biography “The Fabulous Fanny: The Story of Fanny Brice” by Norman Katkov. This was the earliest published instance of the full quip known to QI. Thus, Brice received credit several decades after she reportedly made the remark. Longworth also used the saying, but she disclaimed credit by 1981.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Giving Birth Is Like Pushing a Piano Through a Transom

Notes:

  1. 1953, The Fabulous Fanny: The Story of Fanny Brice by Norman Katkov, Chapter 7: Nick Arnstein: “Not Only to Women but to Men”, Quote Page 102, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. (Verified with scans)