Marilyn Monroe? Bette Midler? Anonymous? Apocryphal?
Quote Investigator: There is a picture on several Pinterest pinboards and Tumblrs that shows a young girl walking in oversized shoes with the following quotation superimposed on the image
Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.
A recent article on the Buzzfeed website expressed skepticism about this attribution. The staff member Gabby Noone stated: “There doesn’t seem to be any proof” that Monroe said it. What do you think?
Quote Investigator: Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, and QI has not found any substantive support that she made this remark.
The earliest evidence located by QI was published in a newspaper supplement called “Family Weekly” in January 1980. A regular feature titled “Ask Them Yourself” printed questions for celebrities together with their answers. The multi-award-winning singer-songwriter and actress Bette Midler was asked about shoes: 1 2
Is it true that you really have a passion for shoes? If so, what kind do you prefer? — O.L., Sacramento, Calif.
The spike-heeled kind. They’re not always easy to find. I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world. Fortunately for the world, I have not found the correct footwear to achieve that goal. However, shoe stores across the nation can attest to my sincere and persistent efforts in that direction.
The phrasing above differed from the modern quotation, but Midler’s humorous remark still yielded a close match. By 1985 another statement was being credited to Midler, and this version gave an even closer match with “correct footwear” substituted for “right shoes”: 3
“Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world.”
– Bette Midler
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1980 January 13, Trenton Evening Times, Section: Family Weekly (Newspaper Supplement), Ask Them Yourself: Question for Bette Midler, Page unnumbered: Second Page of Section, (GNB Page 167), Trenton, New Jersey. (GenealogyBank) ↩
- 1980 January 13, Herald Statesman, Section: Family Weekly (Newspaper Supplement), Ask Them Yourself: Question for Bette Midler, Page unnumbered, Second Page of Section, Column 2, Yonkers, New York. (Old Fulton) ↩
- 1985 November 27, Houston Chronicle, Section: Lifestyle, Great shoes can make a difference by Michelle Smith, Quote Page 3, Houston, Texas. (NewsBank Access World News) ↩