Saying: He doesn't want to be the richest man in the cemetery (attrib Ed Wynn 1932 December)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 24 21:26:46 UTC 2011

Another quotation from Steve Jobs on the theme of mortality has been
featured in some news accounts. Here is a recent Wall Street Journal
article "Steve Jobs's Best Quotes" that referred to a 1993 WSJ
[Begin excerpt]
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to
bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what
matters to me." [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]
[End excerpt]

In December 1932 Life magazine published a profile of the comedian Ed
Wynn that included a version of this cemetery remark.

Cite: 1932 December, Life, Ed Wynn, Page 21, Life, New York. (ProQuest)
[Begin excerpt]
… he will tell you that he doesn't do it for the money. He says he
doesn't want to be the richest man in the cemetery.
[End excerpt]

The phrase was attributed to Wynn for a few years. A variety of
matches followed in the 1930s and 1940s.

The June 12, 1948 issue of Billboard listed "Advance Record Releases",
and the following was included:

(I Don't Want To Be) the Richest Man in the Cemetery
The Sportsmen (The Sad) Capitol 15120


The American Dialect Society -

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