Jimmy Durante? Wilson Mizner? Walter Winchell? George Raft?
Dear Quote Investigator: Sometimes clichés become clichés because they express important truths. I think this is an example:
Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will meet them on the way down
Can you determine who first came up with this insightful saying? Was it “The Schnozzola” Jimmy Durante?
Quote Investigator: There are three main candidates for authorship of this phrase: playwright Wilson Mizner, gossip columnist Walter Winchell, and comedian Jimmy Durante. New evidence uncovered by top researcher Barry Popik in December 2014 points to Mizner as the originator.
Currently, the earliest known citation appeared in a San Francisco, California newspaper on July 5, 1932. The saying was ascribed to “Miznor” which was a misspelling of “Mizner”. Boldface has been added to excerpts:
Wilson Miznor, globe-trotter, ex-Alaska mining chappie, scenario writer, playwright and sage of Hollywood, gave the following advice to a young and coming motion picture star:
“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you’ll meet the same people on the way down.“
Walter Winchell employed the adage during a radio program on July 7, 1932, and he has often been credited with the remark; however, shortly after the broadcast he ascribed the saying to Mizner in his newspaper column. Jimmy Durante spoke a version while performing in a 1933 movie. But the saying was already in circulation. Further details are given below.
Continue reading Be Nice to People on Your Way Up. You’ll Meet Them On Your Way Down
Groucho Marx? Walter Winchell? George S. Kaufman? George Jean Nathan?
Dear Quote Investigator: When a friend asked me my opinion of a terrible play that I saw recently I answered:
I did not like it, but perhaps this judgment is unfair. I saw it under adverse conditions — the curtain was up.
Eventually she coaxed me into admitting that this joke is from Groucho Marx. However, my memory is imperfect so I decided to check with a Google search, and I found that a playwright named George S. Kaufman is also listed as the originator. Could you determine if this is a real Groucho quote or a fake one? Also, can you ascertain which show was being ridiculed?
Quote Investigator: Evidence indicates that Groucho did utter a version of this quote in 1931 to Walter Winchell who promptly reported it in his widely-read and highly-influential newspaper column. The confusion about the attribution arises because Groucho gave credit to the playwright and humorist George S. Kaufman for the quip when he told it to Winchell. In fact, the initial newspaper report in 1931 mentions only Kaufman’s name.
The target of the jest was a show called “Vanities” by the major Broadway producer Earl Carroll, and he was not happy to hear the mocking comment. His anger was primarily directed at Winchell, but there were repercussions over a period of years including: strained relationships, publicly traded insults, and a theater attendance ban.
Continue reading Theatrical Review: I Saw It Under Adverse Conditions. The Curtain Was Up
Gary Player? Arnold Palmer? Jerry Barber? Jack Youngblood? Lee Trevino? Ethel Merman? L. Frank Baum?
Dear Quote Investigator: I am a fan of the golfing legend Gary Player, and the Wikipedia article about him says he: “Coined one of the most quoted aphorisms of post-War sport”:
The harder you practice, the luckier you get.
Is that true? Which golfer said it first? Was it Arnold Palmer?
Quote Investigator: Gary Player is a very fine golfer, but he is not responsible for this well-known maxim. The best evidence that he did not coin the adage is in a book written by Player himself in 1962 where he credits the aphorism to fellow golfer Jerry Barber. Before discussing that book QI will review support for Player and some other claimants to the phrase. The earliest instance of the expression found by QI that uses the word “practice” is not from a golfer. It appears in a memoir published in 1961 by a soldier of fortune during the Cuban revolution.
The saying is a popular motto and different versions can be grouped together in a family that stretches back to before 1900. Here are some examples:
The harder I practice, the luckier I get
The more I practice, the luckier I get.
The more they put out, the more luck they have.
The harder he works, the luckier he gets.
The more you know, the more luck you have.
Continue reading The Harder I Practice, the Luckier I Get
Omar Bradley? Albert Einstein? Young Army Lieutenant? Walter Winchell? Joe Laitin? James W. Fulbright?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is a great quotation about the type of weapons that will be used in World War IV. The words are both funny and chilling, and every time I have seen the saying it has been attributed to Albert Einstein. But while I was researching five-star generals I found a newspaper story from 1949 that gives credit to a famous World War II general [OMB]:
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Omar Bradley recently got involved in a discussion with the big shots of a midwestern city where he was making a speech. The group was arguing about future wars and how they would be fought.
One of the men said: “General, the newspapers tell us that World War III will be fought with atomic bombs, supersonic planes and a lot of new weapons. These are great strides, but how about World War IV? Is it possible to get any newer and fancier weapons than these?” “I can give you the exact answer to that question,” said General Bradley, “If we have World War III, then World War IV will be fought with bows and arrows.”
Do you think that Bradley is responsible for this sobering insight instead of Einstein?
Quote Investigator: A quotation on this theme is attributed to Albert Einstein in 1948 and 1949, and his words are listed further below. However, it is unlikely that Bradley or Einstein originated this compelling motif concerning World War 4 weapons. The evidence that QI has collected points to a Bikini origin.
Continue reading The Futuristic Weapons of WW3 Are Unknown, But WW4 Will Be Fought With Stones and Spears