[Ads-l] Anecdote: Oh! You're the man who can't spell. Tallulah Bankhead zings Norman Mailer

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 12 22:35:34 UTC 2019

The first edition of Jesse Sheidlower's pathbreaking book "The F Word"
includes an introduction by humorist Roy Blount Jr. who described a
popular anecdote about Norman Mailer. Recently, I was asked to explore
the anecdote, and the QI website now has an article:


Here is some information from the beginning of the article.

The 1948 war novel “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer employed
the euphemism “fug” (“fugged”, “fugging”) instead of the four-letter
word for intercourse. According to a popular literary legend either
Tallulah Bankhead or Dorothy Parker delivered a zinger to Mailer after
the publication of the work. The earliest evidence I've located is a
short item in the Hollywood gossip column of Edith Gwynn in April
1950. “Tallulah” was misspelled as “Talullah” in the newspaper text:

[ref] 1950 April 26, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Edith Gwynn’s Hollywood
by Edith Gwynn, Quote Page 24, Column 3, Cincinnati, Ohio.
(Newspapers_com) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
When Tallulah Bankhead was introduced to Norman Mailer, who authored
"The Naked And The Dead," she exploded, "Oh--you’re the man who can't
[End excerpt]

More is available on the website. Feedback welcome.

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

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