I Don’t Get Ulcers. I Give Them

Harry Cohn? Samuel Goldwyn? David O. Selznick? Jimmie Fidler? Lyndon B. Johnson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote investigator: According to a Hollywood legend a movie mogul expressed his unhappiness by angrily upbraiding underlings. Eventually, an assistant cautioned him that delivering repeated harangues can cause stomach ulcers. The magnate snarled:

I don’t get ulcers. I give them.

This remark has been attributed to several people including:

  • Harry Cohn who was president of Columbia Pictures Corporation which made films such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “All the King’s Men”.
  • Samuel Goldwyn who worked at Paramount and Samuel Goldwyn Productions while making films such as “Wuthering Heights” and “The Best Years of Our Lives”.
  • David O. Selznick who worked at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, and RKO while producing films such as “King Kong” and “Gone With the Wind”.

Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the syndicated gossip column of Jimmie Fidler in March 1947. The line was delivered by a Hollywood producer who was not named but was described as famous and egotistical. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Seems one of his employes, after listening to the big shot administer a fifteen-minute tongue-lashing to an assistant, ventured one solicitous remark. “You shouldn’t let yourself become so excited,” he warned. “You’re liable to get stomach ulcers.” “I don’t get ulcers,” roared the mighty one, “I give them!”

Fidler retold the tale in June 1949, and he belatedly identified the producer as David O. Selznick.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Don’t Get Ulcers. I Give Them


  1. 1947 March 31, The Democrat and Leader (Quad-City Times), In Hollywood by Jimmy Fidler (Jimmie Fidler), Quote Page 7, Column 2, Davenport, Iowa. (Newspapers_com)

Love Triangles Generally Turn Out To Be Wrecktangles

Jacob M. Braude? Robert Byrne? Sally’s Sallies? Mary Pettibone Poole? Bob Burns? Jimmie Fidler? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I love terrible puns and the following is a great example: 1

Most love triangles are wrecktangles.

The quotation collector Robert Byrne included this statement in “The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said” with an attribution to Jacob Braude. Would you please tell me more about its provenance?

Quote Investigator: Jacob M. Braude published a large number of compilations of sayings, quotations, and anecdotes. In 1955 he placed an instance with a slightly different phrasing into one of his books, and a detailed citation is given further below. However, this form of wordplay has a much longer history.

In 1866 “wreck-tangle” was used in the maritime realm instead of the domain of amour. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 2

How can you describe the cordage of a vessel, which has run ashore and broken up? By a wreck-tangle.

In 1877 “The Boston Daily Globe” engaged in more elaborate maritime wordplay by adding the groan-inducing terms “try-angle” and “rye-tangle”: 3

The unlucky captain of a New Bedford mackerel smack says he doesn’t want any more geometry in his. The fishing season coming round he went out for a try-angle and brought back a wreck-tangle.—Graphic. His misfortunes were probably caused by an overdose of rye-tangle.

By 1889 “The Weekly Pantagraph” of Bloomington, Illinois published another seaworthy geometrical variant: 4

It is no wonder that a square-rigged ship becomes a wreck-tangle in a storm.

Finally, by 1921 an anonymous joker applied the pun to illicit liaisons, and the result was printed in multiple newspapers such as “The Wichita Daily Eagle” of Wichita, Kansas and “Brooklyn Life” of Brooklyn, New York: 5 6

Al. Bert: “How do these love triangles usually end?”
Phil. Bert: “Most of them turn into a ‘wreck-tangle.'”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Love Triangles Generally Turn Out To Be Wrecktangles


  1. 2012, The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne, No Page Number, Quote Number 283, Touchstone: A Division of Simon & Schuster, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1866 June 9, Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, Local and Other Items, Quote Page 3, Column 4, Bangor, Maine. (Newspapers_com)
  3. 1877 January 16, The Boston Daily Globe, Table Gossip, Quote Page 3, Column 1, Boston, Massachusetts. (NewspaperArchive)
  4. 1889 September 27, The Weekly Pantagraph (Bloomington Weekly Pantagraph), (Filler item), Quote Page 3, Column 3, Bloomington, Illinois. (NewspaperArchive)
  5. 1921 January 29, The Wichita Daily Eagle, (Untitled filler item), Quote Page 3, Column 3, Wichita, Kansas. (Newspapers_com)
  6. 1921 March 26, Brooklyn Life: An Illustrated Home Weekly for Brooklyn and Long Island, Week in Society, Start Page 10, Quote Page 10, Column 1, Brooklyn, New York. (Newspapers_com)