Quote: Not to mourn him but to make sure he was dead (1952)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 4 06:21:50 UTC 2013

In a classic Hollywood anecdote a powerful and detested movie mogul
dies and when his funeral is held people are flabbergasted by the
enormous attendance. Finally, an acridly witty individual suggests an
explanation: "The only reason so many people attended his funeral was
they wanted to make sure he was dead."

The Yale Book of quotations lists a version of this quip attributed to
Samuel Goldwyn in a key 1960 citation. The expired potentate was Louis
B. Mayer whose funeral was held in 1957. Nigel Rees has the same cite
in Cassell's Humorous Quotations. Sometimes the role of the late
unlamented movie man is filled by Harry Cohn who died in 1958.

Here is an instance of the joke in 1952 which suggests that quipsters
were repeating an existing barb, or the anecdote(s) were fictitious.

[ref] 1952, Joey Adams' Joke Book by Joey Adams, Quote Page 213,
Frederick Fell, Inc., New York. (Verified on paper)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
When he died, thousands showed up, not to mourn him but to make sure
he was dead. Nobody wanted to give the eulogy at the funeral because
nobody could think of anything nice to say. They finally induced one
man because, "You know his family, and you knew him better than
anybody else. Maybe you can think of one nice thing to say about him."

He finally consented, and after much thought said, "This man lying
here was a cheat, a faker, a no-good bum and a stinker, but he's got
six brothers and compared to them, he's an angel."
[End excerpt]

Off Topic: Many list members have helped me in a variety of ways to
explore quotations, and I wish to heartily thank them all for their
kindness and resourcefulness!

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

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