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

paul johnson paulzjoh at MTNHOME.COM
Wed Dec 4 12:26:54 UTC 2013

Same vein, supposedly Oscar Levant, at some studio heads funeral, "Well
you give the people what they want and they'll show up."

Old joke about the death of Benny Goodman;
  "I've got good news and bad news,what do you want first?"
     "Give me the good news."
     "Benny Goodman is dead."
     "so what's the bad news?'
     "He died in his sleep."

On 12/4/2013 12:21 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> 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!
> The number of unique visitors to the Quote Investigator website for
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> With appreciation,
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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