Sophie Tucker? Kathleen Norris? Mary Kay Ash? Mrs. Price Smith? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is an old-fashioned saying about the stages of a woman’s life. It begins with a young child who needs good parents and health. It continues with a young adult who needs good looks followed by a middle-aged person who needs personality. It culminates with an old person who needs cash.
This saying has been credited to the popular entertainer Sophie Tucker nicknamed “The last of the red hot mamas”. The statement has also been attributed to the best-selling novelist and journalist Kathleen Norris. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: In October 1935 “The Atlanta Constitution” of Georgia reported on a dinner gathering of supporters of the Tallulah Falls school. The treasurer was attempting to raise funds. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
So the beloved treasurer, Mrs. Price Smith, who is as clever as she is efficient, made an appeal for more money, in this wise:
“From the time a baby girl is born,” she began, “till she is 14 years old, she needs good health. From then until she is 40, she needs good looks. From 40 to 60, she needs personality. And from then on,” continued Mrs. Smith, “she needs cash. Ladies, your treasurer has reached that age when she needs cash.”
Mrs. Price Smith may have created this saying, or she may have simply repeated a statement that was already in circulation. QI does not know which of these possibilities is true.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1935 October 21, The Atlanta Constitution, ‘Gold on Silver’ Tallulah Dinner Reveals Wit and Brilliant Repartee by Sally Forth, Quote Page 10, Column 1, Atlanta, Georgia. (Newspapers_com) ↩