December 30, 2014

Should auld acquaintance (or old lyrics) be forgot…

Contrary to what you sometimes hear, Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759-1796) didn’t create the song “Auld Lang Syne.”

And, Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo didn’t start the tradition of singing the song at New Year’s Eve parties.

However, Burns did flesh out and popularize the lyrics of the song as we know it today (or, at least, kind of know it) in a poem he wrote in 1788.

And, Lombardo did popularize the tradition of playing and singing “Auld Lang Syne” (or, at least, trying to sing it) after counting down the final seconds to midnight on New Year’s Eve.

As explained by The Burns Encyclopedia, Burns based his poem on a traditional Scottish air (i.e., song) that he loved.

He kept some existing phrases, including “Auld lang syne” and “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,” then adapted and added to them, creating the lyrics of the version of the song that became famous worldwide.

Of course, since many of those words are in an old Scots dialect, few people can either remember or understand most of them.

The literal English translation of the phrase “Auld lang syne” is “old long since,” which means something like “old days long gone by” or, more simply put, “old days” or “old times.”

The basic gist of the famous first verse and chorus is that one should remember and think kindly about old times and old friends — and toast them with a drink.

In Scotland, the tradition of singing the song on various sentimental, ceremonial and holiday occasions dates back to before Burns’ time.

By the late 1800s, after Burns’ poem made the song familiar in other parts of the world, it was common for people in many English-speaking countries to sing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve.

Mentions of this custom appear in old newsclips that date back to long before Guy Lombardo became associated with it. But he and his band did help cement the tradition into American culture.

According to most sources, Lombardo and The Royal Canadians first played “Auld Lang Syne” after the countdown to midnight on December 31, 1929 at the Hotel Roosevelt Grill in New York City. (Technically, it was January 1, 1930.)

They continued to perform the song on New Year’s programs that were broadcast live from New York, first on radio and then on television, until 1976 (the year before Lombardo died).

If you’d like to try to sing along when the song is played this New Year’s and need some help, the lyrics that come from Robert Burns’ poem are below.

The Wikipedia entry about “Auld Lang Syne” has a phonetic pronunciation guide for the Scots words in case you’re interested. Even if you’re sober, you’ll probably sound drunk when you try to pronounce them.

Cheers and Happy New Year from!

“Auld Lang Syne”

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


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December 18, 2014

“Politics is not an exact science,” said Bismark. But is it an art?

On this date in 1863, the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismark made a famous remark about politics to members of the Prussian parliament.

“Politics is not an exact science,” he said, on December 18, 1863.

At the time, Bismark was serving as right hand man and Minister-President for Prussian King William I, who faced occasional challenges to his policies from Prussian legislators.

When legislators balked at the King’s proposal for more military spending in December 1863, Bismark told them: 

“An assembly of three hundred and fifty members cannot, nowadays, in the last resort, direct the policy of a great power...Politics is not an exact science...I am not afraid of democracy; if I were, I should give up the game. If the House refuses to vote supplies, we must take them where we can find them.”

The Prussian legislators were not convinced.

They refused to approve the King’s military funding proposal.

So, Bismark — a tough “statesman” known for his belief that state policy should be carried out “through blood and iron” when needed — had the King dissolve the Prussian parliament.

Problem solved.

In 1867, as Bismark was overseeing the unification of Prussia and other formerly separate German states into the German Empire, he uttered an oft-quoted variation on his earlier remark when he said: Politics is the art of the possible.”

Then, in 1884, in a speech to the German parliament as the Imperial Chancellor, Bismark made yet another famous comment about politics: Politics is not a science...but an art.”

Most of us would probably agree that politics is not a science, especially not an exact one.

But I doubt if many people would call what happens in the U.S. Congress or their state legislatures an art — unless they’re talking about the Surrealism genre.

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Related reading…

December 01, 2014

The “shocking” quote by Dr. Joycelyn Elders that got her fired by Pres. Bill Clinton…

Dr. Joycelyn Elders endured a lot on her rise to becoming the first African American to be appointed Surgeon General of the United States.

She was born in 1933, the daughter of a poor sharecropper in a segregated community in rural Arkansas.

As a child, she had to balance working in the cotton fields with attending an all-black elementary school 13 miles away. But she studied hard, made it through high school, and earned a scholarship to Philander Smith College, an all-black college in Little Rock.

After graduating, Elders served for several years in the United States Army’s Women’s Medical Specialist Corps. In 1956, she entered the Arkansas Medical School on the G.I. Bill, where she was the only black student and was required to eat in a separate dining room with the cleaning staff.

Elders persevered, obtained her M.D. degree in 1960, then a Masters in biochemistry in 1967. She became a respected professor, an expert in pediatric endocrinology and a pioneering researcher in childhood growth problems and juvenile diabetes.

In 1987, Dr. Elders became the Director of the Arkansas Department of Health, where her efforts led to major increases in early childhood screenings and immunizations.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her as the US Surgeon General. Like many Surgeon Generals before her, Dr. Elders was outspoken on the need to address current health-related issues, such as the growing AIDS epidemic.

On December 1, 1994, she was a featured speaker at the United Nations-sponsored World AIDS Day conference in New York City.

In a Q&A session after her formal remarks, a conference participant asked her if it might be possible to reduce the spread of AIDS through “more explicit discussion...of masturbation,” as an alternative to heterosexual or homosexual sex.

Dr. Elders answered:

“I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught.”

Her remark generated a firestorm of criticism by Christian groups, Clinton’s Republican critics and even some Democrats.

Elders was already controversial for speaking out in support of sex education, birth control and legalization of marijuana.

And, by God, how could anyone not be shocked and offended by someone who suggested publicly that masturbation exists and that maybe people should get some factual information about it to counter all the myths and misinformation they hear when they’re growing up?  

It was almost as shocking as if she’d said something crazy like: it might be OK for Presidents to have secret sexual affairs with young White House interns.

President Clinton, who would soon be having a secret sexual affair with a young White House intern, decided that Dr. Elders’ remark about masturbation was causing too much media frenzy.

So, Clinton fired her. Technically speaking, he demanded her resignation. Of course, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta told the press she would have been fired if she had not resigned.

Panetta explained somberly: “There have been too many areas where the President does not agree with her views. This is just one too many.”

A few years later, Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky created a much bigger media frenzy and almost caused Clinton to get fired as president by means of impeachment.

In light of all that, his decision to axe Dr. Elders over a fairly mild and now forgotten quote seems like an even lower blow than it did at the time. (So to speak.)

On the positive side, Elders went on to have a successful post-Clinton career as a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a popular speaker on the lecture circuit, speaking against teen pregnancy and in favor of birth control.

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November 26, 2014

“For every creature of God is good.”

Under a federal law passed by Congress in 1942, the date for Thanksgiving in the United States varies from year to year. It’s the fourth Thursday of the month.

But the anniversary of the first official Thanksgiving set by federal decree in our country is November 26th.

In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation that made November 26, 1789 the first Thanksgiving Day designated as such by our national government.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches nowadays, I often think of one of our family dogs who died unexpectedly before Thanksgiving in 2009, from a genetic autoimmune problem that could not be fixed.

Her name was Boojie.

She was a beautiful, sweet-natured Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.

My wife and I loved her dearly and her passing left a hole in our hearts that lasted a long time. (Since partially filled by another beautiful Wheaten Terrier we named Barbie Boo.)

I am not a religious person. But I do believe that we all can have feelings that might be called “spiritual” or “religious.”

The bonds I’ve had with dogs like Boojie and other animals come closest to giving me such feelings.

The word thanksgiving was popularized in English by the Bible, in which it is used many times. My favorite Bible verse using this word is in Timothy 4:4, which says (in the King James version):

       “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”

On this November 26th, I dedicate my post and that quotation to Boojie.

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November 10, 2014

The Top 10 Quotes about and by US Marines…

November 10th is the official birthday of the United States Marines, which were established by the Second Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War, on November 10, 1775.

So, today, I’d like to salute the US Marine Corps by listing the 10 most famous quotations about and by Marines.

1. “From the Halls of Montezuma,
       To the Shores of Tripoli;
       We fight our country's battles
       On the land as on the sea;
[changed to “In the air, on land, and sea” in 1942]
       First to fight for right and freedom
       And to keep our honor clean;
       We are proud to claim the title
       Of United States Marine.”
              Lyrics from “The Marines’ Hymn”
              Penned in the mid-1800s by an anonymous writer
              Copyrighted by the United States Marine Corps on August 19, 1891
              (All three verses and the history of the song are
posted here.)

2. “Semper Fidelis” (“Always Faithful”) 
              Official motto of the US Marine Corps 
              Adopted in 1883. (Often shortened to “Semper fi!”)            

3. “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live for ever?” 
              Attributed to Marine Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daly 
              Comment to his men at the
Battle of Belleau Wood, June 1918

4. “Retreat, hell! We just got here.” 
              Attributed to Marine Captain Lloyd S. Williams 
              Reply when a French colonel ordered him to have the US 5th Marine Division retreat at Belleau Wood on June 1, 1918.

5. “The Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand.” 
              American journalist Richard Harding Davis 
              Cablegram announcing the Marines’ 1935 landing in Panama

6. “Gung ho.” 
              Motto adopted by Marine
Lt. Col. Evans Fordyce Carlson and his “Raiders” 
              Popularized by articles about Carlson’s Raiders during World War II 
              In Chinese, the term means “work together”

7. “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
              U.S. Navy Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (1885-1966) 
              Communiqué sent on March 16, 1945  
              Announcing and saluting the victory of the US Marines at Iwo Jima
              Engraved on the base of the Marine Corps War Memorial
in Arlington National Cemetery

8. “We're looking for a few good men.” 
              US Marines recruiting slogan  
              Created around 1970 by adman Warren Pfaff (1929-2004) 
              Based on the 1776 poster headline: “Looking for a few good men to serve as Marines.”

9. “The Few, the Proud, the Marines.”  
              A more recent Marine recruiting slogan, adopted around 2007  
              Voted into Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame in 2007

10. “In space, no one can hear you scream – unless it’s the battle cry of the United States Marines!”
              Marine Sgt. Major Frank Bougus (played by R. Lee Ermey
              In the debut episode of the science fiction TV series
Space: Above and Beyond (1995)

OK, that last one is not exactly a famous quote. But it’s a favorite of mine.

I’m a big fan of both the United States Marines and of Space: Above and Beyond, in which future Leathernecks fight to protect Earth from aliens.

If we ever do face a war with aliens, I expect US Marines will be there risking their lives for us on the front lines, as always.

Semper Fi!

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November 03, 2014

The bridge between the living and the dead . . .

The Bridge of San Luis Rey is the second novel by the great American writer Thornton Wilder (1897- 1975).

The first edition of the book was published by the Albert & Charles Boni company on November 3, 1927.

It’s set in Peru in the year 1714.

Early in the novel, on July 20, 1714, five people crossing an old bridge are killed when the bridge suddenly collapses.

A Franciscan monk named Brother Juniper happens to witness this tragedy. He wonders “Why did this happen to those five?” 

There must be some reason, he thinks:

If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in a human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.

Brother Juniper spends years compiling facts that might somehow answer his questions.

He talks to family members and friends of the victims, who came from various backgrounds and levels of society. He records what he learns and thinks in a series notebooks.

Ultimately, he spends six years “knocking at all the doors in Lima, asking thousands of questions,
filling scores of notebooks.”
These are collected into one huge book.

The middle chapters of the novel tell us about the lives of the five people who were killed when the bridge collapsed.

They include:

     - Doña María, a wealthy noblewoman who is estranged from her daughter Clara;

     - Pepita a young woman who was raised in an orphanage run by the Abbess Madre María del Pilar and then essentially adopted by Doña María, partly to fill the void left when Clara left Peru and went to Spain;

     - Esteban, a young man haunted by the death of his twin brother Manuel;

     - "Uncle" Pio, the former manager of the famous actress Camila Perichole, whose career ended when she was disfigured by smallpox; and,

     - Jaime, Camila’s son, who was traveling with Pio because Camila asked him to take care of the boy.

In the final part of the novel, we learn that Brother Juniper’s book was brought to the attention of Catholic Church officials and they convicted him of heresy for seeming to question or try to justify the mysterious ways of God.

They burn the book – along with Brother Juniper.

In the final pages of the novel, we learn that Camila has come to Lima to help the Abbess take care of sick people at her convent. By coincidence, Doña María’s daughter Clara has come to visit the Abbess.

Clara looks around at the desperately poor and sick people there. Then she ponders the lives of the five who died when the Bridge of San Luis Rey collapsed. She thinks:

“Even now…almost no one remembers Esteban and Pepita, but myself. Camila alone remembers her Uncle Pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love.”

Finally, Clara comes to an oft-quoted conclusion; the famous quote that is the last line of the novel:

“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

As a snotty young high school kid in the 1960s, I wasn’t really moved by The Bridge of San Luis Rey or its famous quotation.

Today, as an older and hopefully wiser married man, father and grandfather, I am.

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October 30, 2014

“Enjoy every sandwich.”

Warren Zevon’s sardonic views on life and death are apparent in many of the songs he wrote.

An early example is “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” which first appeared on Zevon’s self-titled 1976 album.

Those words were later used as the title of the posthumous biography written about him by his ex-wife Crystal Zevon and as the title of a 2-disc anthology of his music.

The sentiments expressed in that song reflected Zevon’s attitude and lifestyle during his first decades of rock stardom, which were heavily fueled by alcohol and drugs.

“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” was his version of The Who’s famed line “Hope I die before I get old” or the earlier saying “Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse!” 

(To read about the real origin of the “Live fast, die young…” quote, which is often misattributed to actor James Dean, click this link.)

In the fall of 2002, at age 55, Zevon uttered a different, more poignant quip about life that became equally famous among his fans — “Enjoy every sandwich.”

Earlier that spring, Zevon had released the album My Ride’s Here. At the time, he said it was “a meditation on death.” A few months later, Zevon publicly announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

One of the many longtime fans who were saddened to hear that news was David Letterman. During 1980s and 1990s, Zevon was a favorite musical guest of Letterman on his late night shows. Over the years, they became friends.

On October 30, 2002, Warren Zevon made one last appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. At Letterman’s request, he was the sole guest for the entire show.

During the course of the show, Zevon performed three songs: "Mutineer" from his 1995 album of the same name, “Genius” from My Ride’s Here and one of Letterman’s old favorites “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” from Zevon’s classic 1978 album Excitable Boy (the album that included his biggest hit, “Werewolves of London”).

Before Zevon sang his first song, Letterman talked with him about his life and his medical condition.

Zevon’s usual dark humor showed through in much of their conversation.

For example, when Letterman initially brought up the lung cancer diagnosis, Zevon joked: “I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for twenty years.”

Zevon’s answer was more serious when Letterman asked him if his approach to life and music had changed since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

He told Letterman:

“You put more value on every minute...You know I always kinda thought I did that. I really always enjoyed myself. But it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich and every minute.”

Letterman asked if being aware of having terminal cancer gave Zevon some knowledge about life and death “that maybe I don’t know.”

In his reply, Zevon used the sandwich line again, making it forever memorable.

He answered thoughtfully:

“Not unless I know how much, how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

After this final appearance on the Letterman show, Zevon survived for about nine months — long enough to finish one more studio album, titled The Wind.

It was released on August 26, 2003. Less than two weeks later, on September 7, 2003, Zevon died.

I’ll admit that I teared up when I first listened to one of the songs on that album, “Keep Me in Your Heart.”

I do, Warren.

And, at age 65, as I become ever more aware of the fragility, beauty and shortness of life, your words “Enjoy every sandwich” resonate ever more loudly in my mind.

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

Further reading, viewing and listening…

     • YouTube videos of Warren Zevon’s appearances on Letterman shows

     • The official Warren Zevon website

     • The Warren Zevon Other Page

     • The post about Zevon’s last appearance on the Letterman show

     • The American Spectator post about Zevon’s last appearance on the Letterman

October 08, 2014

“The Famous Quotes of October 8th,” a short film script by Robert Deis…


An old, gray-haired man is sitting at one of the tables at an outdoor café in Key West, sipping Cuban coffee, reading the Key West Citizen newspaper.

A very beautiful young woman and extremely handsome young man sit down together at a table nearby.

They are wearing expensive-looking dark sunglasses and have an air of celebrity.

The old man notices a pretty waitress at the café point at the young man and hears her talking to another waitress.


“Who's that behind those Foster Grants?”

The old man recalls that question started out as an ad slogan for Foster Grant sunglasses. (According to the trademark filing for the slogan in the US trademark database, it was first used in commerce on October 8, 1959.)

The good-looking young man also overhears the waitress. He looks up at her, takes off his sunglasses, gives her a big, flirtatious grin and responds, slurring the words just enough to indicate that he’s somewhat drunk.


“I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
A Yankee Doodle, do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam,
Born on the Fourth of July.”

The old man remembers that those are lyrics from the song by George M. Cohan titled “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” (Written for the stage show Little Johnny Jones, which was first performed in Hartford, Connecticut on October 8, 1904.)

He wonders if the young man might be a Broadway star who is familiar with the famous musical or if, perhaps, he’s a movie star who has seen the classic 1942 film about Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy, in which James Cagney sings the song.

The young woman wearing the Foster Grants seems hurt that her male companion is flirting a bit too conspicuously with the pretty waitress. She leans over and speaks to him in a voice that’s low, but clearly intended to be loud enough for the waitress to overhear.


“Keep the home-fires burning.”

The old man hears her, too, and recalls that those words come from song that was popular during World War I. (Lyrics by Lena Guilbert Ford, music by Ivor Novello. First published as sheet music under the title “‘Till the Boys Come Home” on October 8, 1914, later retitled and better known as “Keep the Home-fires Burning.”)

The handsome young man frowns and seems annoyed that someone would try to rein in his behavior and tell him what to do. He pushes his chair back, stands up a bit unsteadily, and says in an angry tone.


“I am not a number – I am a free man!”

The old man is surprised to hear the young man quoting a line from a TV series he enjoyed in the late 1960s: The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan. (The line was used in the opening segment of each episode starting with the show’s second episode, “The Chimes of Big Ben,” which originally aired in the UK on ITV on October 8, 1967.)

The angry young man stalks off, leaving the beautiful young woman in tears.

The older man feels sorry for her and recalls a line spoken by the character Puck in William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was entered into the Stationers’ Register (England’s early version of a Copyright Office) in London on October 8, 1600.

We hear what the old man is thinking as a voiceover.


“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”


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Related reading, listening and watching… 

October 06, 2014

Mae West was very good at being bad…

Mae West (1893-1980) was like Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Dorothy Parker all combined in one package.

She was sensuous, smart and funny. She was a singer, actor, playwright and screenwriter – and a genius at generating and capitalizing on sex-related controversy.

Indeed, the first play she starred in on Broadway (which she also wrote under the pen name “Jane Mast,” produced and directed) was titled Sex (1926).

Sex scandalized the prudes and censors of the day, got Mae arrested for “obscenity” and made her one of the hottest and most sought after celebrities in the country.

She moved on from being a stage superstar in the Roaring Twenties to film superstardom in the Thirties.

Among her most famous and most quoted films was I’m No Angel, which was released in the U.S. on October 6, 1933.

It was West’s second hit film with Cary Grant as her leading man.

Their first film together, released earlier that year, was She Done Him Wrong.

In that one, Mae purred the famed line: “Why don't you come up sometime and see me?” – which is usually misquoted as “Why don't you come up and see me sometime?”

In I’m No Angel, West plays a man-hustling, lion-taming circus star, who likes to “find ‘em, fool ‘em and forget ‘em” – until she falls in love with Cary Grant.

You probably know some or all of Mae West’s most famous lines in I’m No Angel even if you haven’t seen it. The most quoted quips from the film include:

“I’ve been things and seen places.”

“Oh, Beulah...Peel me a grape.”

“When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.”

“It’s not the men in your life that counts, it’s the life in your men.”

Near the end of I’m No Angel, West also gives a sly, self referential nod to her misquoted line from She Done Him Wrong by saying: “And don't forget. Come up and see me sometime.”

Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to October 6:

“California, here I come, right back where I started from.” - The chorus of the well known song “California Here I Come” by Buddy de Sylva, Al Jolson and Joseph Meyer. It was introduced in Jolson’s musical show Bombo, which opened in New York City on October 6, 1921.

“There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.” - President Gerald Ford’s infamous flub in his October 6, 1976 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, which made him seem unaware of the Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.

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September 30, 2014

A little tea and sympathy (and sex and censorship)…

Back in my college days, I tended to snigger at drug references in rock songs. So, I probably sniggered when I first heard Mick Jagger sing the lines in the Rolling Stones’ 1969 song “Let It Bleed” that go:

      “Baby, you can rest your weary head right on me
        And there will always be a space in my parking lot
        When you need a little coke and sympathy”

Nowadays, I’m more intrigued by the fact that in using the phrase “coke and sympathy” Jagger and his songwriting partner Keith Richards were riffing on the expression “tea and sympathy.”

That phrase was popularized by the play Tea and Sympathy, written by American playwright Robert Anderson (1917-2009). It debuted at the Barrymore Theatre in New York City on September 30, 1953.

Since then, the phrase “tea and sympathy” has been used as an expression that means showing kindness and lending a sympathetic ear to someone who is troubled or upset. 

The play was a groundbreaking exploration of the issues of sexual identity, social prejudice against homosexuals and the repression and rebellion of women stuck in loveless traditional marriages.

Because of certain things that happen in it, “tea and sympathy” is sometimes said with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink, to suggest the idea of giving someone sympathy as a ploy to seduce them.

In the play, a sexually ambiguous teenage boy at a boarding school gets harassed for not meeting the manliness standards of the day. He is widely suspected of being gay. 

The boy, named Tom Lee, is befriended by a faculty member’s lonely and sexually-frustrated wife, Laura Reynolds, played by Deborah Kerr in the original production.

In Act One her unlikeable, domineering husband Bill warns her not to pay too much attention to the students or get involved in their lives. He utters the line that gave the play its name, telling her:

       “All you're supposed to do is every once in a while give the boys a little tea and sympathy.”

Laura ends up offering Tom a bit more “tea and sympathy” than Bill had in mind, if you know what I mean (nudge-nudge-wink-wink).

She also ends up leaving her jerk of a husband.

In the last scene, speaking to Tom, she says the line that became a famous quotation.

       “Years from now, when you talk about this—and you will—be kind.”

That’s the closing line in the play. At that point, the written stage directions say: "Gently she brings the boy's hands towards her opened blouse, as the lights slowly dim out..." The end.

MGM produced a movie adaptation of the play in 1956, which also starred Deborah Kerr. But in that, the sexually-oriented themes of the play were toned down to comply with the puritanical absurdities of the Motion Picture Production Code (aka the Hays Code).

For example, MGM decided that the play’s original ending would violate the Code’s rules requiring any non-marital sex to be portrayed as immoral. So the studio execs ordered a contrived, politically-correct epilogue to be added.

In the film’s closing scenes, we flash forward ten years and see that Tom has become a manly married man and Laura regrets her sinful behavior. (Yawn.)

I wonder how Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would have rewritten the ending.

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