Mae West? Jack Wagner? Joe E. Lewis? Charley Weaver? Cliff Arquette? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The Hollywood screen siren Mae West once verbally lacerated the villain of a movie by saying that when he was born his mother should have kept the stork and disposed of him. Would you please help me to determine the name of the movie?
Quote Investigator: Mae West starred in the 1934 film “Belle of the Nineties”. The reviewer in the “New York Herald Tribune” was impressed by West’s comical line about the antagonist. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1934 September 22, New York Herald Tribune, On The Screen by Richard Watts Jr., (Movie Review of “Belle of the Nineties”), Quote Page 10, Column 1, New York. (ProQuest)
I can recommend to you Miss West’s characterization of her villain, who was, it seems, so worthless that when he was born “his mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”
Mae West received credit as the primary writer of the film, and Jack Wagner received credit for additional dialogue. Hence, QI is not completely sure who created the line. Mae West certainly deserved credit for popularizing the insult; however, a form of the joke was already in circulation as indicated below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1934 September 22, New York Herald Tribune, On The Screen by Richard Watts Jr., (Movie Review of “Belle of the Nineties”), Quote Page 10, Column 1, New York. (ProQuest)|