The True Friend Walks In When Others Walk Out

Walter Winchell? Robert Hill? C. R. Durrant? William T. Ellis? Milton Berle? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: When you encounter difficulties some nominal friends will walk away from you, but your genuine friends will offer help and support. Here are two versions of an apposite adage:

(1) The true friend walks in when others walk out.
(2) A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

This saying has been ascribed to the influential gossip columnist Walter Winchell. Would you please explore the origin of this aphorism?

Quote Investigator: A precursor appeared in 1916 within a periodical based in Atlanta, Georgia called “The Presbyterian of the South”. Friendship was discussed in a piece about the biblical patriarch Enoch with the byline R. H. The initials probably referred to co-editor Reverend Robert Hill of Dallas Texas. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

He is truly a friend who comes when all else goes, who walks with you when all others are walking from you.

The statement above used the phrases “comes” and “walks with you” instead of “walks in”. Thus, the syntactic match was inexact, but the semantic match was close.

In 1924 “The Border Cities Star” of Ontario, Canada published an article about a meeting of the Odd Fellows fraternal organization. Reverend C. R. Durrant, past grand chaplain of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, delivered a speech containing an instance of the saying: 2

“That is why friendship is the basis of Oddfellowship,” he said, “and the reason why it is so strongly emphasized by the Order. To have friends, one must, above all, be friendly himself. The friend walks in when others walk out. He is like a sunbeam, binds like a chain and guides like a vision.”

QI believes that this saying evolved over time and should be labelled anonymous. Walter Winchell printed the saying in his column repeatedly starting in 1933. Hence, he helped to popularize the adage, but he did not coin it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The True Friend Walks In When Others Walk Out


  1. 1916 January 19, The Presbyterian of the South, Enoch: For the New Year–A Meditation by R. H., Start Page 2, Quote Page 3, Column 1, Atlanta, Georgia. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1924 April 28, The Border Cities Star (The Windsor Star), 600 at Lodge Celebration: 105th Anniversary of Oddfellows Observed, Quote Page 5, Column 8, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (Newspapers_com)

Laughter Is an Instant Vacation

Milton Berle? Bob Hope? Eugene P. Bertin? Connie Nelson? Robert Zwickey? Dale Turner? Anonymous?

vacation08Dear Quote Investigator: The comedian Milton Berle was a major star for decades on radio and then on television. The following insightful adage has been attributed to him:

Laughter is an instant vacation.

I have also seen these words credited to Bob Hope who was another top comedian with extraordinary longevity. Would you please explore this saying?

Quote Investigator: This expression was ascribed to Milton Berle in 1977, and in 1985 Bob Hope included the adage in an essay he wrote for the UPI news service. So linkages exist for both comedians, and full citations are given further below. Yet, the phrase was already in circulation before 1977.

The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the “Pennsylvania School Journal” in 1968. A column called “Ravelin’s: Threads Detached from Texture” by Eugene P. Bertin stated that laughter was an “instant vacation”; however, the phrasing was not compact. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

There is a purifying power in laughter. It is truth in palatable form. It is instant vacation. Seeing the comical side of many situations makes life a great deal easier. It’s like riding through life on sensitive springs that ease every jolt.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Laughter Is an Instant Vacation


  1. 1968 April, Pennsylvania School Journal, Ravelin’s: Threads Detached from Texture by Eugene P. Bertin, Quote Page 450, Column 1, Published by The Pennsylvania State Education Association, Editorial offices: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Verified with scans; thanks to great librarian at University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida)

I’ve Never Been Hired by a Poor Person

Robert Orben? Milton Berle? Ronald Reagan? Phil Gramm? Michael Dolan? Roger Ross? Sean Hannity? Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Quote Investigator: Years ago I heard a quotation that was credited to Ronald Reagan about the creation of jobs. I do not remember the precise wording, but here are two versions that express the gist of the quote:

No poor man ever gave me a job.

Have you ever been hired by a poor person?

Recently, I’ve seen the saying credited to former Senator Phil Gramm. Can you determine who made this remark?

Quote Investigator: The top etymological researcher Barry Popik has explored this saying, and the results given here build on his valuable work.

The earliest evidence for this expression located by QI was published in a 1977 profile of a professional comedy writer named Robert Orben. The New York Times article noted that Orben supplied humorous material to business men and women who were planning to deliver speeches. The story listed some of lines suggested by Orben. For example, here is an introductory remark and a retort aimed at a heckler [ORNY]:

The program director really wasn’t sure how I’d do tonight. I asked him the capacity of this room. He said, ‘It sleeps 300’.

Sir, to have an open mind doesn’t mean you have to have an open mouth.

The article also contained a statement similar to the one under investigation:

Don’t knock the rich. When was the last time you were hired by somebody poor?

In March 1978 the same quip appeared in a newspaper advertisement for a shop called “Ross Jewelers” of Nashua, New Hampshire.

In December 1981 a South Carolina newspaper column titled “The Stroller” printed a version of the joke [SRSC]:

Here’s something to think about: Don’t knock the rich. When were you ever hired by a poor person?

In 1989 the famous comedian Milton Berle published a collection of his jokes that included a modified version of the quip. The second half was changed to an exclamation instead of a rhetorical question [MBPJ]:

I don’t knock the rich. I never got a job from a poor person!

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I’ve Never Been Hired by a Poor Person