Robert J. Casey? Bennett Cerf? Grady Clay? Dwight Marvin? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Misprints and incorrect headlines in major periodicals have caused havoc in the past. One egregious tale shared by journalists is about a caption containing the word “eyesore” that was transposed with another caption. Are you familiar with this story? Is it genuine or apocryphal?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the 1943 book “Such Interesting People” by Robert J. Casey who worked for the “Chicago Daily News” for many years. Casey stated that large newspapers employed lawyers to help minimize the damage from the publication of garbled news stories. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
Some of these experts earn their fees as, for instance, in the case of the Fort Smith (Arkansas) newspaper that went to press hurriedly on the day that the mayor’s wife died and the old ice house burned. The lady’s portrait was two columns wide on the first page and over it was a startling tribute: “Old Eyesore Gone At Last.”
QI has been unable to locate the newspaper front page displaying this text over a portrait. Electronic databases remain incomplete, and this tale might still be authentic. Alternatively, Casey might have transmitted a tall-tale concocted or embellished by colleagues. A 1995 citation presented further below states that the unfortunate headline appeared in “The Record” newspaper of Troy, New York instead of an Arkansas paper.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1943, Such Interesting People by Robert J. Casey, Chapter 3: Fantasy Among the Magnolias, Quote Page 47, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Verified with hardcopy) ↩