"Thanks! I Needed That!"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 25 06:54:25 UTC 2010

  Posted two links earlier with some comments. I want to update this a bit.

> Street&Smith's Astounding Science-fiction, [Vol. 21, Issue 4, 1945] contains the line--
> http://bit.ly/9yotCl
> "The hull plates are of magnesium-beryl------ Thanks, Josh. I needed that, I guess. I'll try my best to stop being silly." (allegedly, p. 14--not verified on paper ...)

A bit more digging revealed that the tag is screwed up, but not in the
worst possible way. In fact, the scanned volume includes only parts of
Volume 21 and 22 from 1938, and nothing from 1945. The expression is
clearly sarcastic--"Thanks for the useless technical information." Other
hits that refer to drinks--stiff or otherwise (cold water, coffee) are
not. They really express the speaker's gratitude for the drink (or any
other comforts that are offered).

> http://bit.ly/9Vm06M
> Munsie Magazine. Volume 92. 1927 [p. 430]
> "Thanks--I needed that!" Lorne chuckled--and perhaps William did sigh
> lightly, perhaps it did seem to him that that wallet would have been
> small enough recompense for what he had suffered.

In this case, the intent is not entirely clear to me. There is some
sarcasm in the expression, but it's because the person making the remark
(Lorne) has just extorted a wallet from the other person (William).
AFAIK all the other expressions I found on GB around these dates (and
everything prior to 1950, actually) is just straight use of the phrase
(thanks for a drink, thanks for a blanket, thanks for waking up, etc.).

Now, the reason *I* remember the line has little to do with Mennen
commercials--I don't recall the slapstick being run by 1981 when I was
first exposed to Mennen spots. My recollection is that it was in Animal
House--a sentiment expressed by John Belushi in response to a bottle of
booze being tossed to him. The quote being memorable enough, I
dispatched to the IMDB. Sure enough, the search for "memorable quotes"
reveals 5 hits, including Animal House and remake of Sabrina (only one
of the other three--Dark Angel TV series--has the requisite line):
> Linus Larrabee: [David is indisposed so Linus meets up with Sabrina
> instead and romances her] Oh, I almost forgot. [he kisses her]
> Linus Larrabee: The rest of the message from David.
> Linus Larrabee: [Sabrina slaps him] Thanks, I needed that.

And the other:
> Bluto: [after chugging a whole bottle of Jack without a pause for air]
> Thanks. I needed that. [chucks the bottle behind him, which shatters
> on the hood of the car behind him]

These, of course, are long /after/ the Skin Bracer spots. And the
original Sabrina contains nothing of the kind.

Also of note is the fact that one blogger pointed out that "Thanks. I
needed that." was a signature John Wayne line.

> And, of course, no Wayne film could be complete without a "Thanks, I
> needed that."

He gives no examples. And IMDB has none as well.

Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson pulled the stunt on at least one occasion.
There is no date, but McMahon wrote in his autobiography that "it was in
a time when there was a commercial for shaving lotion in which a
gorgeous blonde gave a man a bracing slap on the face and he said,
'Thanks! I needed that!' " (http://bit.ly/bcUwQ7) McMahon might have
been mistaken--the original slap (the John Goodman commercial) has the
man slap himself with the after-shave. There is a later version in the
boxing ring with the same result. (I posted links to YouTube versions of
both earlier.) There might have been one with a blonde as well, but it
does not appear to be available, if it existed. But also note that
McMahon distinctly used the word "bracing" in describing the slap.

One more thing on the Skin Bracer ad campaign. It appears to have won
the Clio prize in 1975:

> “Thanks, I needed that.”
> — Harry Webber, co-creator
> “Thanks, I Needed That” campaign
> Mennen
> From the classic film line from Robert Stack in “The High and the
> Mighty” to John Belushi in Animal House to countless skits on Saturday
> Night Live, the phrase “Thanks, I Needed That” has worked its way into
> the American lexicon. The high point of the campaign was waiting at
> ringside for the victor of the Ali-Frazier flight with a check for $1
> million from Mennen Skin Bracer for the winner to slap himself silly.
> agency: Case & Krone creative director Helmut Krone, Gene Case
> copywriter: Gene Case
> art director: Helmut Krone, Harry Webber
> award: Clio 1975

Still more on the ad campaign.

 From Family Weekly supplement (p. 23) to the Anchorage Daily News for
Sunday, April 16, 1972 (and other newspapers).
> When does a vicious punch in the gut or a fast slap in the face /not/
> hurt? When it's Teri McComas who's taking it--or teaching it. At 21,
> Teri is a pretty, vivacious girl who enjoys falling headfirst from
> 30-foot buildings, being thrown from galloping horses and receiving
> powerful slaps across her freckled face. She's no masochist, she's a
> Hollywood stunt girl. She learned her trade from veteran stunt men and
> she's an expert. Recently she was hired to teach some tricks of her
> trade to actors who slap and get slapped in the "Thanks, I needed
> that" TV commercials for shaving lotion. Teri teaches timing and the
> angle of slaps, which won't rattle teeth but are nevertheless
> convincing on camera. Slapping lessons, anyone?

This should put to rest the question of whether the slap was a central
fwature of the campaign or not.


On 8/25/2010 12:26 AM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>    On 8/24/2010 10:18 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> To Victor: if it was idiomatic by 1953, I think we'd have seen a precise ex.
>> ("Thanks! Ineeded that!") long before ca1970.  Though they come close,
>> neither Gann nor Uris use the cliche phrase.
> --
> One can find the precise phrase much earlier, but I think the expected
> usual context would include a stiff drink rather than a slap.
> Possibly I haven't paid close enough attention to the thread, but has it
> been considered that the slap may not have been conceived as the central
> feature, or that the commercial may not have been intended to invoke the
> stereotypical hysteria-countering slap?
> The word "bracer" at the time of the ad would have had the primary
> meaning "[stimulating/fortifying] drink [of hard liquor]", I think.
> Sudden vigorous application of skin tonic would call for a slap
> (although it's a different slap from that used to get the attention of a
> raving hysteric), and it may be that this was intended to parallel the
> sudden vigorous application of an internal tonic, i.e., knocking back a
> slug of (say) whiskey or brandy.
> It's not so much "calm down" as "wake up", maybe.
> Just a casual thought.
> -- Doug Wilson

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

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