From 40 to 60, She Needs Personality. And From Then on She Needs Cash

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.

Continue reading From 40 to 60, She Needs Personality. And From Then on She Needs Cash

Notes:

  1. 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)

Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right

Henry Ford? Virgil? John Dryden? John Herbert Phillips? Del Howard? Harlowe B. Andrews? Norman Vincent Peale? Mary Kay Ash? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: An aphorism highlighting the power of positive thinking and warning about the danger of negative thinking has often been attributed to automotive titan Henry Ford. Here are four versions:

  1. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
  2. Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
  3. If you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.
  4. If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.

Did Ford really craft this adage? The saying has also been linked to Mary Kay Ash who created a cosmetics empire and Norman Vincent Peale who emphasized positive thinking in his self-help and religious writings.

Quote Investigator: In September 1947 the influential mass-circulation magazine “The Reader’s Digest” published the following freestanding quotation. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
— Henry Ford

This was the earliest strong match for the statement found by QI. Henry Ford died in April 1947; hence, the adage was ascribed to him a few months after his death. Unfortunately, “The Reader’s Digest” did not provide any precise information about the source; hence, there is some residual uncertainty. During the following years the expression coupled with the Ford ascription was reprinted in other periodicals and newspapers.

Ideational precursors were in circulation long before 1947, but the phrasing was less concise and elegant. The evolution of these expressions will be presented below.

Top researcher Barry Popik 2 and the key reference “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” have both examined questions in this topic area, and this entry, in part, builds on their valuable explorations. 3

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right

Notes:

  1. 1947 September, The Reader’s Digest, Volume 51, (Filler item), Quote Page 64, The Reader’s Digest Association. (Verified on paper)
  2. Website: The Big Apple, Article title: If you think you can, you can (Mary Kay Ash?), Date on website: September 24, 2007, Website description: Etymological dictionary with more than 10,000 entries. (Accessed barrypopik on February 3, 2015) link
  3. 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Page 256, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)