Herman J. Mankiewicz? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: I have just returned from seeing an expensive Hollywood fiasco. While watching the film I was reminded of a vibrant telegram that a successful Hollywood writer reportedly sent to cajole another scribbler to join him. He made promises such as: “millions of dollars can be grabbed” and “the only competitors are idiots”. Did this telegram actually exist? Can you determine who sent it and who received it?
Quote Investigator: In 1954 the prolific Oscar-winning screenwriter Ben Hecht published a memoir titled “A Child of the Century” which included the text of a telegram he was sent before he began his acclaimed career in motion pictures. The screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz enticed Hecht to join him in Tinseltown with a dream of wealth in a note delivered by a Western Union messenger. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
The telegram he delivered on this spring day in 1925 came from the unknown Scythian wastes of Hollywood, Calif. It read, “Will you accept three hundred per week to work for Paramount Pictures. All expenses paid. The three hundred is peanuts. Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1954, A Child of the Century by Ben Hecht, Quote Page 466, Published by Simon and Schuster, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩