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)

I’ve Been Poor, and I’ve Been Rich. Rich Is Better!

Fanny Brice? Beatrice Kaufman? Joe E. Lewis? Sophie Tucker? Johnny Hyde? Jack Herbert? Harold Gray? Bernice Fitz-Gibbon? Bob Mankoff?

Dear Quote Investigator: A newly wealthy person sometimes feels sentimental about an earlier period of poverty. Yet, one well-heeled individual unapologetically proclaimed:

I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. And, believe me, rich is better.

These words have been ascribed to entertainer Fanny Brice, singer Sophie Tucker, comedian Joe E. Lewis, writer Beatrice Kaufman, and others. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in May 1937 in the popular syndicated gossip column of Leonard Lyons who credited the writer Beatrice Kaufman. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

At the Tavern Mrs. George S. Kaufman urges a noted theatrical figure to accept the movie offers being tendered him. “Listen, and take my advice,” she urges. “Don’t overlook the money part of it. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better!”

The above citation was listed in the important reference works “The Yale Book of Quotations” 2 and “The Quote Verifier”. 3 Kaufmann is the leading candidate for creator of this remark although in subsequent years it was employed by many others. Even columnist Lyons credited multiple people.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading I’ve Been Poor, and I’ve Been Rich. Rich Is Better!

Notes:

  1. 1937 May 12, The Washington Post, The Post’s New Yorker by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 13,Washington, D.C. (ProQuest)
  2. 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section: Beatrice Kaufman, Quote Page 415, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified with hardcopy)
  3. 2006, The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes, Quote Page 179, St Martin’s Griffin, New York. (Verified on paper)