[Ads-l] [Non-DoD Source] Re: "Gaslight" as a verb only five decades old

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 11 17:20:16 EST 2017


I checked with Josh Chetwynd, and he shared a "gaslight" example from a
1952 episode of The Burns & Allen Show entitled "Gracie Buying Boat for
George":

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1696383/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG5BFBYo97M

At 16:20 in the YouTube video, Harry (Fred Clark) says to Gracie, "Give him
the gaslight treatment!" and then explains what that means. A bit later you
hear George say, "So they sold Gracie on the gaslight bit."

Could this be the original TV incarnation of "the gaslight treatment/bit"?
(And could it be what JL was remembering?) Additional "Gaslight" references
can be found here:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036855/movieconnections

--Ben


On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 4:23 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> In "Lucy Gets Mooney Fired," Lucy says, "We'll give Cheever the gaslight
> treatment." At 11:55 here:
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN9ydOxNXhc
>
> Later, Mooney says to Lucy, "You may be able to work that gaslight stuff
> with Mr. Cheever, but don't try to pull it on me."
>
> Close, but no verbing. "Gaslight treatment" does appear in print in 1966,
> a year before the "Lucy Show" episode (but a year after the Reporter
> article).
>
> ---
> New York Amsterdam News, Mar. 26, 1966, p. 14, col. 1
> "P.S." by Cathy W. Aldridge
> In one household, the husband is giving the wife the "gaslight" treatment,
> and in the other, the wife is "playing" like crazy.
> ---
>
> From Josh Chetwynd's new book, _Totally Scripted: Idioms, Words, and
> Quotes from Hollywood to Broadway That Have Changed the English Language_:
>
> ---
> https://books.google.com/books?id=uwx5DQAAQBAJ&pg=PA72
> At first, the idea of _gaslighting_ was picked up for benign purposes.
> Beginning in the 1950s, TV sitcom writers named scenarios where one
> character was fooling another as the _gaslight treatment_ or the _gaslight
> bit_. Programs like _The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show_, _Car 54,
> Where are You?_ and _Make Room for Daddy_ all used the _gaslight treatment_
> to comedic effect.
> ---
>
> On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 12:22 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
> RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:
>
>> I vaguely recall an episode of the The Lucy Show in which gaslighting is
>> a plot element.  Google reveals:
>>
>> "06) Episode 141: “Lucy Gets Mooney Fired” (Aired: 11/06/67 | Filmed:
>> 09/21/67)
>>
>> Lucy inadvertently gets Mooney fired after she covers up a bank shortage.
>> To convince Cheever to give Mooney his job back, Lucy gives him the
>> Gaslight treatment.
>>
>> Written by Fred S. Fox and Seaman Jacobs
>>
>> I love how kooky this episode is WITHOUT managing to insult its
>> audience’s intelligence. Taking a cue from Gaslight (1944), Lucy decides to
>> make Cheever think he has gone crazy, so that he’ll agree to rehire Mr.
>> Mooney. The script itself isn’t that funny, but the bits Lucy does to make
>> Cheever flip are great. This is, deservedly, a fan favorite."
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> > -----Original Message-----
>> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
>> Behalf Of Ben Zimmer
>> > Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 10:23 AM
>> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>> > Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: "Gaslight" as a verb only five decades old
>> >
>> > All active links contained in this email were disabled.  Please verify
>> the identity of the sender, and confirm the authenticity of all links
>> > contained within the message prior to copying and pasting the address
>> to a Web browser.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > ----
>> >
>> > There's a 1956 "I Love Lucy" episode called "Lucy Meets Charles Boyer,"
>> in which Ricky conspires with Charles Boyer to make Lucy think that
>> > Boyer is merely a lookalike. There are obvious parallels to "Gaslight,"
>> but I watched the episode here and I didn't hear anything about
>> > "gaslighting":
>> >
>> > Caution-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEg-3yqLLVQ
>> >
>> > --Ben
>> >
>> >
>> > On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 10:49 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> > > Jon: The earliest HDAS cite is from 1956, quoting an unnamed NYC
>> > > woman, age 41. There's nothing about "I Love Lucy," and I've never
>> > > heard anything about the show spreading the word. Do you have more
>> > > information on this you can share?
>> > >
>> > > --Ben
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 11:11 AM, Jonathan Lighter
>> > > <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
>> > > wrote:
>> > >
>> > >> Check HDAS, with earlier cite from "I Love Lucy" - which probably
>> > >> popularized the verb through infinite reruns.
>> > >>
>> > >> JL
>> > >>
>> > >> On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 10:28 AM, Yagoda, Ben <byagoda at udel.edu>
>> wrote:
>> > >>
>> > >> > George Cukor’s 1944 film was in turn based on a 1938 play by
>> > >> > Patrick Hamilton. The OED’s first citation for “gaslight” as a
>> > >> > verb is a
>> > >> sentence
>> > >> > from a 1965 article in “The Reporter”: "Some troubled persons
>> > >> > having
>> > >> even
>> > >> > gone so far as to charge malicious intent and premeditated
>> > >> ‘gaslighting.’”
>> > >> >
>> > >>
>> > >
>>
>

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