"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" (J. Frank Dobie?)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Jan 9 03:51:27 UTC 2007

Did anyone coin "(Never/Don't) let the (facts/truth) get in the way of a  
good story"? (Search for "way of a good story.")
It's been credited to Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie (one quote in YBQ),  
but I don't know if anyone in particular can take credit.
“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”
Texans are known for their bragging. Common sayings are “It ain’t braggin’” 
 (if you can do it, or if it’s true) and 
_“no  brag, just fact.”_ 

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good  story” (sometimes given with “
truth” replacing the word “facts") is something  that seems either from 
Texas or Hollywood (or a bit of both). The phrase dates  from at least 1940. 

Folklorist J. Frank Dobie is sometimes credited with  this phrase, but this 
has not been verified with documentary evidence. Delbert  Trew (another Texas 
folklorist) has claimed: “I never let the truth stand in the  way of a good 

_The 1824 Flag of the Texas  Revolution_ 
Texians and Hollywood seldom allow facts to get in the way of  a good story 
and sometimes these stories take on the guise of history.   

_“It’s All Trew”  Texas columns by Delbert Trew_ 
“It’s All Trew” by Delbert Trew  
Appears in the Amarillo Globe News 
Delbert Trew was born in  Ochiltree County in the northern Panhandle of Texas 
in 1933. His wife Ruth was  also born in the Panhandle on a farm near 
Follett, Texas. This was during the  darkest days of the Great Depression and in the 
heart of the Dustbowl. They are  retired and live 65 miles east of Amarillo on 
a ranch that’s been in the family  for 54 years. 
As a disclaimer he sometimes says, “I never let the  truth stand in the way 
of a good story” and other times he says, “If you’ve  already heard this 
story, don’t stop me, ‘cause I want to hear it again,  myself.” 

_Handbook  of Texas Online_ 
DOBIE, JAMES FRANK (1888-1964). J. Frank Dobie,  folklorist, was born on a 
ranch in Live Oak County, Texas, on September 26,  1888, the eldest of six 
children of Richard J. and Ella (Byler) Dobie. His  ranching heritage became an 
early influence on his character and  personality.  

_Wikipedia: J. Frank Dobie_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Frank_Dobie)   
James Frank Dobie (September 26, 1888–September 18, 1964) was an  American 
folklorist, writer, and newspaper columnist best known for many books  depicting 
the richness and traditions of life in rural Texas during the days of  the 
open range. As a public figure, he was known in his lifetime for his  outspoken 
liberal views against Texas state politics, and for his long personal  war 
against what he saw as bragging Texans, religious prejudice, restraints on  
individual liberty, and the assault of the mechanized world on the human spirit.  
He was also instrumental in the saving of the Texas Longhorn breed of cattle  
from extinction.  

_Google  Groups: alt.old.west_ 
From:  laro 
Date:  Fri, Feb 21 2003  11:44 am 

Gerald, I had a hard time believing that Bigfoot was a  descendant of William 
Wallace...I went to the Handbook of Texas and sure enough,  there it is. 

Then I noted that J. Frank Dobie actually penned that  article before he died 
and was reminded of a quote OFTEN attributed to Dobie,  “Never let the truth 
get in the way of a good story.” 

I’m still  wondering.  Do you have any personal sources of knowledge or were 
you  accepting the Handbook, as I always do (well, almost always.  Dobie did  
have a way with the truth!) 

I like Dobie, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve  got all of his books with about two 
But he was a  folklorist!    

29 June 1940, Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, NE),pg. 5, col. 7:  
...the women (and men) who won’t let truth stand in the way of a good story  
and embroider a little on every bit of gossip they hear;... 

15 December  1956, Winnipeg , pg. 32, col. 6: 
His book, which he calls  frankly a novel, is a stringing together of 
vigorous and racy anecdotes, and if  the facts get in the way of a good story, so 
much the worse for the facts.  

9 March 1964, Fresno (CA) Bee, pg. 28, col. 8: 
Lawrence  Lader’s writing in Sunday’s Parade Magazine on the bail system 
followed with  slavish devotion the slogan: “Never let the facts stand in the way 
of a good  story.” 

13 December 1969, Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville,  AR), pg. 4: 
Murray writes for the Los Angeles Times, and wears the literary  mantle of 
Artemus Ward, Josh Billings and Don Rickels. He’s a colorful writer,  and he 
rarely lets facts get in the way of a good story. 

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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