wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Dec 10 19:19:18 UTC 2008
"Blonde jokes" are a recent (1984: NewspaperArchive.com) genre of annoying humor, but before blondes were stereotyped as "dumb" the usual dismissive adjective was "dizzy."
An OED cite refers to a "company of Dizzy Blondes" in 1889, but the phrase - and the boffo theatrical concept combining ditz with bosoms - is older than that:
1877 _Macon Telegraph and Messenger_ (Oct. 24) 4: The Dizzy Blondes. Next Monday evening the Dizzy Blondes will visit Macon and give an exhibition which, it is claimed, will exceed everything ever seen on the boards of Ralston Hall. The name of the troupe indicates the character of the "exhibition." ...[T]he applause which [ever] attends the performance resembles the roar of thunder or the deep chant of the mighty seas.
[Ed. note: to the right is an advertising column stacked with repetitions of the phrase "DIZZY BLONDES." It tells of "The greatest Sensation. House Packed from Pit to Dome at Every Performance. M'ME NINON DUCLO'S Famous and Original Troupe of Sensational BLONDES, Living art [sic] Pictures and Grand Specialty Combination....
20 BEAUTIFUL BLONDES 20 in the Latest Parisian Sensation, La Minuet, The Performance to conclude with the mirth-provoking Burlesque of the SEVEN BEAUTIES or, THE DIZZY BLONDES.
[On Nov. 6, 1877, the same _Telegraph and Messenger_ editorialized sternly against the "shameful lasciviousness, indecency, and downright wickedness of that performance," and gave thanks that the "filthy creatures" had left town under pressure from the Y.M.C.A.]
1877 _Dubuque Herald_ (Nov. 27) 3: The Y.M.C.A. of Louisville...stopped the performances of Mlle. Ninon de L'Enclos' [sic] troupe of dizzy blondes.
1878 _Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel_ (Jan. 5) 1: The movement on the "dizzy blonde" shows of Cincinnati was productive of discussion in the police board of that city Wednesday, as to the relative indecency of the waltz, as practiced in the "best society," and the can-can [as danced by dizzy blondes].
1878 _Wheeling Daily Register_ (Aug. 15) 4: Charles Benton, general agent of May Fisk's Dizzy Blonds [sic], is in the city billing his troupe for the Washington Hall for next Monday
Both NewspaperArchive.com and America's Historical Newspapers continue to report on "dizzy blondes," first with and later without reference to the pioneering terpsichoreans.
The phrase appears in lower case as early as
1878 _Milwaukee Daily Sentinel_ (quoting _N.Y. Herald_) (Feb. 13) 2: Miss Fairbanks is not a dizzy blonde.
The earliest explicitly "dumb blonde" I can discover was identified some years later:
1924 _Amarillo Globe_ (Nov. 28) 4: The gun...was given to me as a present by my dumb blonde with whom I'm keeping quite smart company. She is a true Texan.
"Dumb blonde" becomes common after about 1926.
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
More information about the Ads-l