[Ads-l] Antedating "Mr. Nice Guy" / "No more Mr. Nice Guy"

Steven Losie stevenlosie at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 6 04:18:50 UTC 2022

Mr. Nice Guy (OED, Apr 16, 1957)

[begin quote]
Reviewlets: "The Perry Como Show" returned this week to CBS-TV. There isn't
much to add to last year's glowing reports about "Mr. Nice Guy."
[end quote]
Article title: 'Pro' On Quiz Show Tells of His 40-Hour Week
Author: Jack O'Brian
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug 29, 1952, p.28, col.3
Database: Proquest

[begin quote]
Mr. Nice Guy: that's what they call Perry Como around radio-TV and we don't
know a soul who disagrees.
[end quote]
Article title: TV News Notes
Author: Jack O'Brian
Source: The Daily Sentinel-Tribune (Bowling Green, Ohio), Sep 11, 1952, p.
16, col. 2
Database: Newspapers.com

The author of both articles, Jack O'Brian, was the TV reporter for the New
York Journal American. Presumably, both articles appeared there first
before being syndicated, but the Journal American is undigitized (available
on microfilm at the New York Public Library though).

I skimmed through a couple episodes of the Perry Como Show from the 1951-52
TV season available online, and there is no indication in that cursory
search that the nickname "Mr. Nice Guy" was used on air. If it wasn't
coined by Como's agent or staff, then it may have been made up by Jack
O'Brian himself. The OED's earliest citation would suggest the possibility:

[begin quote]
A writer did an article about him [sc. Perry Como], and called him ‘Mr.
Nice Guy’, and the name stuck.
[end quote]
Source: Look magazine, Apr 16, 1957, p.127, col.2


No more Mr. Nice Guy (OED, July 26, 1965)

The OED cites Newsweek, but Walter Winchell had used the phrase five years
earlier in one of his syndicated columns (ellipses in the original):

[begin quote]
. . . Hitler hammered on the table and shouted: "That does it! From now on
— no more Mr. Nice Guy!"
[end quote]
Source: Terre Haute Tribune, Sep 8, 1960, p.4, col.6
Database: Newspapers.com

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

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