December 15, 2015

“Elvis has left the building.”

Even people who aren’t Elvis Presley fans know the line “Elvis has left the building.”

Credit for popularizing this famous quote goes to Al Dvorin, a Chicago bandleader and booking agent hired by Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker in 1957 to help organize Elvis concerts and serve as an announcer at the shows.

From the late 1950s until Presley’s death in 1977, Dvorin spoke these familiar words at the end of “The King’s” concerts, to let audiences know a show was definitely over and that Elvis would not be coming back for any more encores.

The most widely heard use of the line by Dvorin is on the live album Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden, taped at a classic Presley concert at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972.

That album has been listened to by millions of people around the world. On the last track, titled “End Theme,” Al Dvorin is heard saying:

       “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night.”

Dvorin’s use of “Elvis has left the building” (sometimes preceded by “Ladies and Gentlemen…”) is so well known that many websites erroneously claim he coined the line. 

In fact, although he did make it famous, he didn’t say it first. 

It was actually coined as an off-the-cuff remark by Horace Lee Logan, the producer of Louisiana Hayride

Louisiana Hayride was a pioneering country and early rockabilly music show broadcast on radio from 1948 to 1960 and on TV from 1955 to 1960 from Shreveport, Louisiana. 

It helped launch the careers of many famous music artists, including Elvis Presley.

Elvis first appeared on the show in 1954, not long after his first single “That’s All Right, Mama” was released by Sun Records and before he was widely known.
Over the next two years, Presley had a string of hits and became a star. 

When he returned for a final appearance on Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956, his young fans mobbed the auditorium in Shreveport where the show was held.

Elvis was the third of many performers scheduled to perform that day. 

After he gave a final encore and exited the stage, many of the young people in the crowd continued screaming for him. 

Some stood up and began leaving, either hoping to see Elvis outside or not seeming to understand that the Hayride show was not over. 

At that point, according to various written sources, Hogan took the microphone and said: “Please, young people...Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away...Please take your seats.”

In an excerpt from an audio recording of the show, the words Hogan uses are slightly different (though it’s possible that the written sources and recording may both only include part of what he said that day). 

What Hogan can be heard saying in the audio version is: “All right, uh, Elvis has left the building. I've told you absolutely straight up to this point, you know that, he has left the building. He left the stage and went out the back with the policemen and he is now gone from the building.”

Further confusing the issue is the fact that at least one version of the audio posted on YouTube credits these words to KWKH disc jockey Frank Page, who was the radio announcer for Louisiana Hayride.

Based on what I’ve read and other recordings of Page’s voice I’ve listened to, I believe the voice in the Louisiana Hayride audio is Horace Logan. (Some sites credit audio clips to Hogan that I think are actually the voice of Al Dvorin.)

What seems certain is that the phrase “Elvis has left the building” was first used at at the end of Presley’s appearance on Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956 and that it was later picked up and popularized by Al Dvorin — whose most famous use was recorded at the Elvis concert at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972. 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Related listening, reading and viewing...

December 07, 2015

“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”

On December 7, 1941 — which President Franklin D. Roosevelt would memorably name “a date which will live in infamy” on the following day — hundreds of Japanese warplanes made a deadly surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

When the crew of the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans rushed on deck they saw devastation all around them.

Not far away, a huge cloud of smoke was rising from the battleship USS Arizona and it was sinking.

Beyond the Arizona, the USS Oklahoma was rolling over. Sailors were jumping from its sides.

Another nearby battleship, the USS West Virginia, was badly damaged and sagging amidships.

The New Orleans was docked for repairs when the attack occurred. As usual during repairs, the ship’s electricity was temporarily coming through a power cable from the shore.

Soon after they came on deck, the crew began firing the cruiser’s guns at Japanese planes.

But when they needed more ammunition they discovered that the power cable to shore had been cut, making the electric ammunition hoist inoperable.

Undeterred, the men formed lines and began carrying the heavy shells to the guns by hand. As they did, ship chaplain Lieutenant Howell M. Forgy walked along the deck encouraging them, shouting “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”

The Japanese pilots eventually flew away after sinking nine U.S. ships and damaging 21 others. Their attack killed 2,350 Americans, including 1,177 sailors on the USS Arizona.

The next day, America officially entered World War II.

In the months that followed, word spread about the memorable line shouted by a chaplain during the Pearl Harbor attack.

In some stories about the quote, the chaplain was unnamed.

In others, including a widely-read article in the

November 2, 1942 issue of LIFE magazine, he was identified as Captain W.A. Maguire — a senior Navy chaplain who outranked Forgy and was on a dock in Pearl Harbor that day.

According to the Life article, Maguire said he didn’t actually remember if he had shouted “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” But he didn’t deny it.

Stories about the incident inspired American songwriter Frank Loesser to write a patriotic song that used “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” as the title and chorus.

Loesser’s song was published in 1942, recorded by several artists and quickly became popular. The version by Kay Kyser and his band reached #1 on the pop singles chart in January 1943.

The LIFE article and the popularity of the song led the crew of the USS New Orleans to urge Chaplain Forgy to come forward and set the record straight about the fact that it was he — not Maguire — who said the now famous words.

At first, Forgy demurred, but eventually his shipmates persuaded him.

The officers of the USS New Orleans arranged a meeting with the press and the real story of this famous World War II quotation was finally revealed.

Chaplain Forgy made it through the war, returned to a civilian ministry and died in Glendora, California, in January 1972. His famous quote lives on.

In case you’ve never seen them, here are the lyrics of the song Forgy’s quote inspired, which opens with the chorus:

      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      And we'll all stay free

      Praise the Lord and swing into position
      Can't afford to be a politician
      Praise the Lord, we're all between perdition
      And the deep blue sea

      Yes, the sky pilot said it, you gotta give him credit
      For a son of a gun of a gunner was he

      Shouting, 'Praise the Lord, we're on a mighty mission
      All aboard, we ain't a-goin' fishin'
      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      And we'll all stay free'


*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

December 04, 2015

“Facts are stubborn things…”

In the years leading up to the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the rebel-rousing
Sons of Liberty used an engraving of what they called “The Boston Massacre” to encourage anti-British sentiments. 

The engraving, done by Paul Revere, shows a line of British soldiers coldly firing their bayoneted muskets into a crowd of Americans, several of which lay bleeding on the ground. 

A poem underneath that scene describes how the King’s men “With murderous Rancour stretch their bloody hands, Like fierce Barbarians grinning o'er their Prey.” 

It was good propaganda. But it did distort what happened at the “Boston Massacre” on the night of March 5, 1770. 

That night, a local resident got into an argument over a debt with a British soldier. Eight other British soldiers came out on the street to help their comrade. A group of Americans surrounded the soldiers. The Brits were soon being yelled at and pelted with snowballs, ice chunks and debris by the much larger, hostile crowd. 

The bloodletting appears to have started when a mulatto seaman named Crispus Attucks hit one of the soldiers with a piece of wood. The soldiers panicked. Somebody yelled “Fire!” and they shot into the crowd, killing Attucks and four other Americans. 

When the British soldiers were arrested and put on trial for murder, a Boston merchant asked local lawyer (and future president) John Adams to defend them. He agreed, knowing it would make him unpopular and could ruin his career.

Adams believed the soldiers deserved legal representation as a matter of principle. After looking into the incident, he also believed they were provoked and should not be executed for murder, as many Bostonians wanted. 
On December 4, 1770, the second day of the brief trial, Adams gave his summation to the jury. 

He argued that anyone might have reacted the same way the soldiers did in such a confusing and potentially life-threatening situation. He suggested Crispus Attucks was more to blame for “the dreadful carnage of that night” than the soldiers, because of his “mad behavior.”

Facts are stubborn things,” Adams said, uttering what became a famous quotation. “And whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence: nor is the law less stable than the fact; if an assault was made to endanger their lives, the law is clear, they had a right to kill in their own defence; if it was not so severe as to endanger their lives, yet if they were assaulted at all, struck and abused by blows of any sort, by snow-balls, oyster-shells, cinders, clubs, or sticks of any kind; this was a provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing, down to manslaughter.”
The jury was persuaded. Six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and punished by having their thumbs branded. 

Several years later, John Adams wrote in his diary that his defense of those British soldiers was “one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country.” 

“Facts are stubborn things” became one of Adams' best known and oft-cited quotes. However, contrary to what I once thought, he didn't coin that line. 

As noted by quote mavens Garson O'Toole on his Quote Investigator site and Dr. Mardy Grothe in his Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations, it was already a saying in England and America and dates back to at least the early 1700s.

Two centuries later, President Ronald Reagan uttered the most famous modern use and perceived “misuse” of that quote. 
It came in his speech at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 15, 1988

Reagan was there to speak in support of the current Republican presidential candidate, his Vice President George H.W. Bush, who was running against Democrat Michael Dukakis.

In the speech, Reagan recounted what he viewed as the successes of his administration and the reasons why he felt voters should elect another Republican as president.

Reagan repeated John Adam’s facts quote several times in the address. It was a rhetorical device he used in the part that focused on the economic problems he blamed on his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter.

“Before we came to Washington,” Reagan said, “Americans had just suffered the two worst back-to-back years of inflation in 60 years. Those are the facts, and as John Adams said, ‘Facts are stubborn things.’ Interest rates had jumped to over 21 percent…Facts are stubborn things…The median family income fell 51/2 percent. Facts are stubborn things.
Then he made what became one of his most-cited gaffes, saying:
“Fuel costs jumped through the atmosphere, more than doubling. Then people waited in gas lines as well as unemployment lines. Facts are stupid things.”
Reagan immediately corrected himself, adding: “Stubborn things, I should say.” But once the word stupid came out of his mouth, that’s the version that was picked up and cited by his critics. 

Today, thousands of websites quote Reagan as saying “Facts are stupid things” as if it were somehow a significant quote — without noting that it came from a speech in which he said “stubborn things” several other times and quickly corrected his brief slip of the tongue.

Of course, thousands of others note that Reagan said “Facts are stubborn things” — without mentioning that he was quoting John Adams, thus creating the impression that Reagan coined the line.

When it comes to quotations on the Internet, facts are often slippery things.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Related reading and viewing…

November 25, 2015

Queen Elizabeth’s “Annus Horribilis” and it’s ancestor, the “Annus Mirabilis”…

On November 24, 1992, Elizabeth II gave a speech in London to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession as Queen of England and “the Commonwealth realms.”

The speech immediately became famous for her reference to the year 1992 as an “Annus Horribilis” — which means “horrible year” in Latin.

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” the Queen said. “In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’ I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so.”

There’s no doubt that the year 1992 was an unusually unpleasant one for Elizabeth and England’s Royal Family.

In March, it was announced that the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, would separate from his wife, Duchess Sarah Ferguson.

In April, her daughter Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips.

In May, the publication of the bombshell book Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words made it clear that the marriage between Elizabeth’s oldest son, Prince Charles, and Diana, “The People’s Princess,” was also on the rocks.

The book revealed that Charles had been having an affair with his old girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles (who later became his second wife). It also disclosed how miserably unhappy Diana was with Charles and the way she had been treated by other members of the Royal Family.

In August, the Sun tabloid newspaper ran a story about the “Squidgygate” tapes — intimate conversations between Diana and former EastEnders actor James Gilbey (who called Diana by the affectionate nickname “Squidgy”).

Also in August, The Daily Mirror tabloid published photos of Duchess Sarah, topless, having her toes sucked by American financial tycoon John Bryan.

In September, the Sun revealed that Princess Diana may have had an affair with British Army officer James Hewitt.

In early November, The Daily Mirror revealed the “Camillagate” tapes: secretly recorded phone conversations between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in which Charles said (among other embarrassing things) that he wanted to be Camilla’s tampon.

Then, on November 20, just four days before Queen Elizabeth’s speech, a fire broke out in Windsor Castle, the official Royal residence in London, destroying historic sections of the building.

Given all this, the Queen’s choice of the words “Annus Horribilis” is understandable. And, the fire at Windsor Castle made the phrase oddly ironic.

“Annus Horribilis” is a twist on an older phrase made famous by the British poet John Dryden.

In 1667, Dryden published a poem titled “Annus Mirabilis,” meaning “a year of miracles” (or marvels, or wonders) in Latin.

Dryden’s poem described several historic events that occurred in 1666.

First, it recounts a series of English victories in battles with the Dutch.

Then it talks about the Great Fire of London in September 1666. Although large areas of London were burned, the Great Fire was stopped before it destroyed the entire city.

Dryden took these events as signs that God had performed miracles to save England from destruction and looked fondly on the expansion of the British Empire — thus making 1666 an “Annus Mirabilis” in his view.

I don’t know if Queen Elizabeth’s description of 1992 as an “Annus Horribilis” a few days after the Windsor Castle fire was purposefully ironic. If so, I’d say she has a very dry sense of humor indeed.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

November 18, 2015

“Your eyes are full of hate, Forty-one.” ... In Ben-Hur, that's good.

Screenwriter, playwright and novelist Gore Vidal is linked to two famous quotations about whipping.

One is a funny quip about the old form of corporal punishment called “birching” (whipping someone with a bundle of birch tree rods):

       “I’m all for bringing back the birch, but only between consenting adults.”

This quote appears in many books of quotations and on many websites, generally without any source.

The Yale Book of Quotations has traced it to an article published in the UK Sunday Times Magazine on September 16, 1973.

The other quote about whipping Vidal is linked to is in the epic film Ben-Hur, which premiered in New York City on November 18, 1959.

Official credit for the screenplay of Ben-Hur was given to veteran screenwriter Karl Tunberg.

However, at the request of the film’s director, William Wyler, several other writers did extensive but uncredited rewriting, including Vidal and the famous playwrights Maxwell Anderson and Christopher Fry.

A quote in Ben-Hur that's often cited by movie buffs and books is from a scene in the galley of a Roman warship.

At this point in the film Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, is galley slave.

He's chained there with dozens of other sweating, near-naked men who row the ship.

The Roman naval commander Quintus Arrius, played by British actor Jack Hawkins, comes down into the galley to inspect the slaves.

He asks Heston, who he calls by his seat number – Forty-one – how long he’d been “in service.” 

Heston glares at Hawkins and says with a clear tone of hatred that he’d served a month less a day on the current ship and three years in others.

Hawkins seems to ignore Heston’s tone and walks on.

Suddenly, he turns around and lashes Heston on the back with the multi-stranded whip he’s carrying. (Called a flagrum in Latin.)

Heston rears up and looks menacingly at Hawkins. Hawkins looks down at him coolly and remarks: “You have the spirit to fight back, but the good sense to control it.”

Then he says:

“Your eyes are full of hate, Forty-one. That's good. Hate keeps a man alive. It gives him strength.”

It’s not certain that Gore Vidal was the writer who contributed those famous words to the script.

It could have been Tunberg, Anderson or Fry.

However, given Gore’s sexual preference (he was openly gay long before it was as acceptable as it is today), and given his oft-quoted quip about mutual birch lashings by consenting adults, Gore seems like he might have a special flair for writing a scene that included sweaty, scantily-clad men and a whip.

In fact, Gore claimed to have purposely put a homosexual subtext into the movie's script in its depiction of the relationship between Ben-Hur and Messala, played by Stephen Boyd.

Messala is a Roman. Ben-Hur is a Jew (who later becomes a Christian). They both grew up in Jerusalem in wealthy households and were close childhood friends. Messala left to pursue a career as a soldier. Years later he is sent back to Jerusalem as a commander of the Roman troops stationed in the city.

When Ben-Hur and Messala see each other again for the first time in years, it's a happy and warm reunion.

Gore recalled discussing the nature of their friendship with director William Wyler in an interview in the excellent 1996 documentary The Celluloid Closet.

“I said, ‘Well, look, let me try something. Let’s say that these two guys when they were 15 or 16...they had been lovers and now they’re meeting again and the Roman wants to start it up...Willie stared at me, face grey. And, I said, ‘I’ll never use the word; there will be nothing overt, but it will be perfectly clear that Messala is in love with Ben-Hur.’ Willie said, ‘Gore, this is Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ I think is the subtitle,’ he said, rather vaguely, looking around. And Willie finally said, ‘Well, it's certainly better than what we've got. We'll try it.’”

Wyler later denied this conversation with Gore ever took place.

Either way, once you know about the anecdote, it’s hard to not to think of it when you watch the scene in Ben-Hur when the two childhood friends see each other again after years apart and give each other a long, warm hug.

Of course, as the plot progresses Ben-Hur and Messala become arch enemies. They have their final showdown in the famed chariot race near the end of the movie. In that sequence of scenes, the whipping is done to the horses.

Most viewers of the movie may not give it any thought. But I see it as a reflection of mankind's age-old cruelty to animals, especially knowing that nearly 100 horses died during the shooting of the movie.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing…

November 15, 2015

Ron Popeil created the Veg-o-Matic and inspired the Bass-O-Matic (but didn’t say “It slices! It dices!”)

Ron Popeil, The Salesman of the CenturyWhen Ron Popeil titled his 1995 autobiographical book The Salesman of the Century it was not the kind of exaggeration used in the “As seen on TV” style of ads he pioneered.

Ron was born in New York City in 1935. He’s the son of inventor Samuel Popeil, creator of the Chop-o-Matic food chopper and its ultimately more famous offspring, the Veg-o-Matic food chopper and slicer.

Ron Popeil began his career in the 1950s, by selling those kitchen wonders and other gadgets invented by his father in live demonstrations at retail stores and county fairs.

By 1960 the Sam Popeil-coined name Veg-o-Matic was on its way to becoming a household word.

On November 15, 1960, the family received a trademark registration for it.

Ron helped take the Chop-o-Matic and Veg-o-Matic to the next level by appearing in early TV infomercials promoting them, using the same demonstration techniques and rapid-fire pitchman patter he had honed working for his father.

Contrary to what many people believe, he did not say “It slices! It dices!” in the Veg-o-Matic commercials. I always thought he did myself until I did some more research.

As Popeil adamantly stated in his biography and in interviews that book sparked, he never uttered the words “It slices! It dices!” in any ads.

"The only lines I used on TV about slicing and dicing,” he wrote in the book, “had to do with onions: ‘When slicing or dicing onions, the only tears you'll shed are tears of joy.’”

However, Popeil also noted that in some pitches and print ads the Veg-o-Matic was described as the product that “slices and dices and juliennes to perfection.”

And, at some point, the words “SLICES AND DICES” began being used on the Veg-o-Matic box. Moreover, many current online ads for the product, which is still being sold, say:

The Ronco Veg-o-Matic is the one kitchen appliance you'll wonder how you ever did without! It slices, it dices, and so much more!”

So there is a connection between the Veg-o-Matic and the famous marketing phrase. It’s not just a figment of our imaginations.

In 1964, Ron created the Ronco company and went on to even greater fame and fortune.

During the following two decades, he invented or licensed a long list of Ronco products and perfected the “As seen on TV” approach to marketing them.

Some of the Ronco TV ads featured Ron himself, such as the one for GLH (short for “Good Looking Hair”), the much-mocked colored spray designed to cover bald spots on men’s (or women’s) heads.

Other Ronco commercials were announcer voiceover style demonstrations, showing the ingenious aspects of products like the Ronco Bottle and Jar Cutter, the Buttoneer, the Smokeless Ashtray, Mr. Microphone, the Salad Spinner, and the Pocket Fisherman.

Popeil, his products and his marketing approach inspired many imitators. Some Ronco products, like the Veg-o-Matic, were also licensed and further promoted in TV commercials by K-Tel, another pioneering “As seen on TV” company.

His Veg-o-Matic ads also inspired one of the greatest Saturday Night Live TV ad spoofs of all: the ”Bass-O-Matic” sketch performed by Dan Aykroyd on Episode 17 of Season 1.

In addition, Popeil led the way for later infomercial pitchmen like Billy Mays and Anthony “Sully” Sullivan.

He may not have been “the greatest” salesman of the 20th Century. But he certainly was one of them.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

All original text written for the This Day in Quotes quotations blog is copyrighted by the Subtropic Productions LLC and may not be used without permission, except for short "fair use" excerpts or quotes which, if used, must be attributed to and, if online, must include a link to

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something posted here and believe we may have violated fair use standards, please let us know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and is committed to protecting your privacy. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.