Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said"

That’s one of the few things Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra actually said. Many of his quotes came from others or were just made up by writers.

It’s hard tracing quotes back to their owners after someone else picks them up. We all know Marie Antoinette haughtily solved the peasants’ bread shortage by saying, “Let them eat cake.” Various people were supposed to have said this, and long before Marie the Soon-to-be-Headless had the words put in her mouth.

In Ronald Reagan’s tear-jerking death scene as George “Gipper” Gipp, he asked Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne to “win one for the Gipper.” In the actual 1920 event, George simply asked, “win one for me”; in 1930, Rockne embellished it to what we know now.

“I did everything Fred Astaire did,” said Ginger Rogers, “except backwards and in high heels.” Ms. Rogers will tell anyone she did not make that one up, but found it in the “Frank & Ernest” comic strip; artist Bob Thaves was the originator.

“Give me liberty or give me death,” didn’t say Patrick Henry. Did say biographer William Wirt who kinda made it up and sorta put it in Pat’s mouth. Joseph Addison’s earlier play “Cato” has a line which includes “liberty or death.”

You can spend a lot of time paging through “The Quote Verifier,” by Ralph Keyes, subtitled “Who said what, where, and when.”


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