Andy Warhol? Sylvia Miles? Wayland Flowers? Jack O’Brian? Rex Reed? Olivia Goldsmith? Ivana Trump? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The opening of an exciting theatrical production or an innovative art museum can be a prestigious event with an impressive guest list. Yet, many openings are weary exercises in public relations with unremarkable attendees. A self-promoter who showed up at a large number of openings delivered the following gently mocking line:
I would attend the opening of an envelope.
The same barb has comically been aimed at a well-known performer:
That person would attend the opening of an envelope.
The famous pop artist Andy Warhol and the Academy Award nominated actress Sylvia Miles have been linked to these lines. Would you please explore this family of quips?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the Broadway gossip column of Jack O’Brian in 1974. The actress Sylvia Miles was the target of an elaborate version of the jest. The ellipsis in the following appeared in the original text. Boldface added to excerpts: 1
A carbonated Sylvia Miles of course turned up at Cue Mag’s salute to Debbie Reynolds; Syl turns up at all openings; last week the madcap mummer attended half a dozen openings, including one envelope, two appendectomies and a cellar door . . . It’s not a good opening if it’s Miles-away.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1974 January 23, The Jersey Journal, The Voice of Broadway: Comics take Brando’s tango by Jack O’Brian, Quote Page 30, Column 4, Jersey City, New Jersey. (GenealogyBank) ↩