Quote: Let=?windows-1252?Q?=92s_?=all go to see Miss Hepburn and hear her run the gamut of emotions from A to B! (Jan 6, 1934)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 27 18:46:42 UTC 2013

Back in July 2010 Fred asked about several quotations attributed to
wordsmith Dorothy Parker. In August 2010 I posted to the list about a
famous slam Parker directed at thespian Katharine Hepburn (a remark
not included in Fred's inquiry).

Here is an update with some questions for list members. The QI website
has an entry with a first citation dated January 6, 1934. Also,
sometime in 1934 Alexander Woollcott's book "While Rome Burns" was
released, and it included an instance of the saying.

She Runs the Gamut of Human Emotion from A to B

Question 1: The popular columnist O. O. Mclntyre asserted that
Parker's joke had been used by a critic named William Winter many
years earlier (though the wording was probably different):

[Begin excerpt]
A mot accredited to Dorothy Parker reported Katharine Hepburn running
the gamut of emotion from A to B in her stage play .. . It was fresher
when William Winter, a gentler critic, pulled it on an actress of 30
years ago . . . Most Algonquin gags are that way.
[End excerpt]

If someone can find evidence of an earlier occurrence credited to
Winter (or anybody else) that would be excellent.

Question 2: Columnist Walter Winchell suggested that Jonathan Swift
made the same jape:

[Begin excerpt]
Oh, yes - talking about tracing quips and gags - Cobb also told me
that Dorothy Parker was accused of uttering: "She runs the gamut of
human emotion from A to B" (Speaking of Hepburn in "The Lake"), but
William Winter, the critic, wrote it in a notice years ago—and that
Dean Swift said it in the seventeenth century!
[End excerpt]

If someone can find evidence of an earlier occurrence credited to
Swift (or anybody else) that would be great.

Question 3: There is a match in Google Books with a year of 1933 in
Reader's Digest, Volume 24. If this year were accurate then this
citation would be the earliest. But Volume 24 includes issues from
December 1933 to June 1934, and I think that the match probably occurs
around April 1934. This cite is interesting because it claims that
Parker was criticizing Hepburn's performance in "Little Women" instead
of "The Lake". Based on extracted text the section title is "Barbed

If someone accessed Reader's Digest, Volume 24 to ascertain the month
and verify the text that would be great. Please do not greatly
inconvenience yourself because I will probably be able to check this
cite within a month.

Magazine: The Reader's Digest
Volume: 24 (Nov 1933 to Jun 1934)
Year: 1933 or 1934
Page 38
(Google Books data and metadata is sometimes inaccurate)


[Begin excerpt]
Reviewing the motion picture, Little Women, Dorothy Parker writes of
Katherine Hepburn's acting: "She runs the gamut of emotions from A to
[End excerpt]

Thanks for reading,

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

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