“The surest way to make a monkey out of a man is to quote him.”
— Robert Benchley
1) “The tragedy of life is not that a man loses, but that he almost wins.” Who said that?
2) Dorothy Parker reviewed a novel by whom, when she said, “This is not a book to cast aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force”?
3) Who cabled a Hollywood producer: Terribly sorry unable to write life of Florence Nightingale for Gertrude Lawrence am busy writing life of Joan of Arc for Mae West?
4) “A liberal is a man who leaves the room when the fight begins.” Who said that?
5) When Alexander Woollcott’s book, Shouts and Murmurs, was published, he was asked to sign the first edition. Pompously, he commented, “Ahh, what is so rare as a Woollcott first (edition)?” A friend answered, “A Woollcott second edition.” Who said that?
6) In what weekly publication is the title of Woollcott’s book, Shouts and Murmurs, a regular column head to this day?
7) In what play was Aleck Woollcott the inspiration for its central character?
8) To which actress did Dorothy Parker refer when she commented that the actress’s performance: “…runs the gamut of emotion from A to B”?
9) No first-string critic would ever review lowly vaudeville musical shows, but on one evening when the opening of a drama Aleck Woollcott was to review was postponed, he reluctantly agreed to see a new vaudeville production. In his review he raved, “There should be dancing in the streets.” The performers were, “splendacious!” Who were the stars he catapulted to stardom?
10) When F. Scott Fitzgerald was on the wagon, he commented to a friend enjoying another martini, “Drinking is a slow death…” The friend responded, “So, who’s in a hurry?” Who said that?
11) Name the fabulously rich couple hosting extravagant and wild weekend parties at their Long Island estate, touted by the hostess as, “an absolutely seething bordello of interesting people”, and that was the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby?
12) “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” Who said that?
13) “Some American writers who have known each other for years have never met in the daytime or when both were sober.” Who said that?
14) “From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.” Who said that?
15) “In stating as fully as I could how things really were, it was often very difficult and I wrote awkwardly and the awkwardness is what they call my style.” Who said that?
16) “I understand the hero (of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms) keeps getting into bed with women, but the war wasn’t fought that way.” Who said that?
17) Who said, “For five hundred dollars, I would gleefully turn War and Peace into a music hall sketch.”
18) When they announced that Calvin Coolidge had died, who said, “How do they know?”
19) Who said, “I wasn’t kissing her, I was just whispering in her mouth.”
20) “Being an old maid is like death by drowning, a really delightful sensation after you cease to struggle.” Who said that?
21) Who wrote, “The faith in my own talents remained unwavering, but it did seem unduly optimistic to assume that American theatergoers of the 1920s would be perceptive enough to see me in the same brilliant light that I saw myself. In this I was, as usual, absolutely right. They didn’t.”
22) “A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” Who said that?
23) “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” Who said that?
24) In shocked response to a chorus boy wearing nothing under his tights, who said, “For God’s sake, get that boy to take that Rockingham tea service out of his pants!”
25) “Did you know, I can trace my family all the way back to the Crusades,” boasted a guest at luncheon about his own distinctive lineage. A Jewish writer had endured enough cut in and said, “I had an ancestor, Sir Roderick, who went on the Crusades, too….as a spy, of course.” Who said that?
26) “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in-shock-proof-shit-detector.” Who said that?
27) Clifton Webb was inconsolable over the death of his mother. Who said, “Pull yourself together Clifton, and stop all this weeping. It is not, after all, entirely unusual to be orphaned at 72”?
28) Who added vodka to his ice cream sodas?
29) Who wrote, “Mrs. Patrick Campbell is an aged British battleship sinking rapidly and firing every available gun on her rescuers”?
30) Which hypochondriac member of the round table (there were three!) used to carry around stacks of his electrocardiograms?
31) Who asked that hypochondriac, “Are you planning a one man show of those things?”
32) Name the three hypochondriacs.
33) Alexander Woollcott not only inspired Kaufman’s and Hart’s Sheridan Whiteside, he was also the model for the decadent, manipulating character, Waldo Lydecker, in a novel by Vera Caspary, later made into the film noir masterpiece of 1944, Laura. But, Woollcott influenced yet another writer to create a detective in his image for a very popular mystery series. Name the author and detective.
34) Who said, “Hollywood money isn’t money. It’s congealed snow, melts in your hand, and there you are.”
ANSWERS: 1) Heywood Broun; 2) Benito Mussolini; 3)Noel Coward; 4)Heywood Broun; 5) Franklin Pierce Adams (FPA); 6) The New Yorker; 7) The Man Who Came to Dinner; 8) Katharine Hepburn; 9) The Marx Brothers; 10) Robert Benchley; 11) Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Bayard Swopes; 12) Robert Benchley; 13) James Thurber; 14) Groucho Marx; 15) Ernest Hemingway; 16) Harold Ross; 17) Noel Coward; 18) Dorothy Parker; 19) Chico Marx; 20) Edna Ferber; 21) Noel Coward; 22) Robert Benchley; 23)F. Scott Fitzgerald; 24) Noel Coward; 25) George S. Kaufman; 26) Ernest Hemingway; 27) Noel Coward; 28) Robert Benchley; 29) Alexander Woollcott; 30) Heywood Broun; 31) Alexander Woollcott; 32)Heywood Broun, Harold Ross and George S. Kaufman ; 33) Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe; 34) Dorothy Parker