Life Is Not a Rehearsal

Drake? Lawrence T. Holman? Chet Huntley? Katharine Ross? Rose Tremain? Wayne Dyer? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: William Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage”, and the metaphor of life as a theatrical performance has a very long history. The quotation that interests me fits in this metaphorical framework, but I think it was coined recently:

Life is not a dress rehearsal.
This is your life, not a dress rehearsal.
Life is not a rehearsal.
And life ain’t a rehearsal the camera’s always rollin’.

Can you tell me who originated this saying?

Quote Investigator: This is a modern proverb that may not be traceable to an individual. The earliest evidence located by QI was printed in 1953 in the Covina Argus-Citizen newspaper of Covina California. Pastor Lawrence T. Holman of the Church of the Nazarene used the expression as the title of an evening sermon: 1

7:30 p.m. — EVANGELISTIC SERVICE. Special songs by “Jad” Scroggins. Sermon by the pastor: “LIFE IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL!”

In 1972 an advertisement for a real estate development in Big Sky, Montana used a version of the adage. The resort area was conceived by Chet Huntley who was a prominent television journalist and anchorman. The ad was aimed at executives looking for homesites offering recreational activities such as skiing, fishing, golf, tennis, and riding. 2

You’re too busy running to catch planes, running to catch cabs and trying to stop running long enough to catch lunch.

Well, it’s time you realized this isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is your life.

It’s time you were introduced to Chet Huntley’s Big Sky: Over 10,000 acres of the most beautiful country in this world.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Life Is Not a Rehearsal


  1. 1953 May 7, Covina Argus-Citizen, Section II, Quote Page 6, Column 3, Your Church Invites You, (Schedule of Church of the Nazarene, Location: First and College, Pastor: Lawrence T. Holman), Covina, California. (NewspaperArchive)
  2. 1972 November 9, Cleveland Plain Dealer, (Advertisement for: Chet Huntley’s Big Sky in Big Sky, Montana.) Quote Page 6-G, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)