Graffito: "To Be Is To Do" "To Do Is To Be" "Do Be Do Be Do"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 16 21:25:10 UTC 2013

DAD: Thanks for pointing to Strangers in the Night. I listened to a
youtube version and at the end I heard something that differed
slightly from the canonical rendition in the joke:

do de do be do
do do do de dah

I might be mishearing the syllables, or Sinatra might sing different
strings of syllables at different times (or for different songs). Of
course, the joke creators/tellers probably did not examine
Harmonographs.   Garson

On Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 11:47 AM, David A. Daniel <dad at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "David A. Daniel" <dad at POKERWIZ.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Graffito: "To Be Is To Do" "To Do Is To Be" "Do Be Do Be
>               Do"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "Do be do be do" or "doobie doobie doo" famously comes at the end of
> Strangers in the Night, 1966. We were telling the Socrates-Sartre-Sinatra
> joke when I was in college, 67-71. In 1978 I nicknamed my then-future (and
> still) wife "Doobie Doo", inspired partly by Sinatra.
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Graffito: "To Be Is To Do" "To Do Is To Be" "Do Be Do Be
>               Do"
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> According to Google Books
> "frank sinatra" socrates sartre "to be is to do" "to do is to be" "do be do
> be do"
> are found in The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson (1967),
> but I have not seen to book to attempt to confirm this.
> Stephen Goranson
> The 1982 novel "Deadeye Dick" by Kurt Vonnegut mentioned the following
> piece of graffiti:
>     To be is to do - Socrates.
>     To do is to be - Jean-Paul Sartre.
>     Do be do be do - Frank Sinatra.
> There are many versions of this graffito. It is listed in Cassell's
> Humorous Quotations (2001), Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
> (1980) and Encyclopedia of Graffiti (1974).
> Victor Steinbok contacted me off-list and suggested this would be an
> interesting topic for research. Thanks Victor!
> The earliest relevant cite I have located appeared in the Dallas
> Morning News on Januarys 29, 1968. Here is a link to the QI article:
> The graffito evolved over several decades and many philosophers and
> authors have been substituted into the template including: Dale
> Carnegie, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus,
> John Stuart Mill, William James, William Shakespeare, and Bertrand
> Russell. The punchline ascribed to Frank Sinatra, in some form, is
> usually preserved.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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