By Alan Graner
“I want to suck your blood.” Bela Lugosi, Dracula, 1931. He never said it.
“You dirty rat!” James Cagney. Nope, though he did say “Mmm, that dirty, double-crossin’ rat” in Blonde Crazy, 1931.
“Elementary, my dear Watson.” Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote this line in any of his Sherlock Holmes stories. It was uttered, however, in the 1929 movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
“I did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heels.” Dancer Ginger Rogers denied ever saying this about her dance partner.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” What William Congreve actually wrote was “Heaven has no rage like a love to hatred turn, no hell a fury like a woman scorned” in his play The Mourning Bride, 1697.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This supposed Voltaire quote is a fabrication by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who wrote the lines in her book Friends of Voltaire, 1907
“Money is the root of all evil.” The Biblical verse reads, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10.
“The buck stops here.” Harry Truman didn’t originate this quote, though it appeared on a plaque on his desk. The earliest citation yet found was on the desk of Army Col. A.B. Warfield in 1942.
“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it begins to add up to real money.” There is no evidence Sen. Everett Dirksen ever uttered these words.
“If they have no bread, let them eat cake.” There is no written evidence French queen Marie Antoinette ever said it. In his book Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote of a great princess who, when she was told the peasants had no bread, replied “Let spilleautomater them eat brioche.”
“The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” General Philip Sheridan denied ever saying this or anything like it.
“The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Usually attributed to Russian dictator Josef Stalin. It’s actually a misquote of satirist Kurt Tucholsky. In an essay on French humor (1932) he quoted a fictional diplomat who said:” The war? I cannot find it to be so bad! The death of one man, this is a catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of deaths: that is a statistic!”
“There’s a sucker born every minute.” Famous showman P.T. Barnum never said it.
“Failure is not an option.” Lead flight director Gene Kranz never said this during the Apollo 13 crisis, though he did use it for the title of his book. His character uttered the quote in the movie Apollo 13.
“I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.” By now most people know this supposed George Washington quote was invented by biographer Parson Weems.
“Anything that can go wrong, will.” Murphy’s Law. Except Edward Murphy never said it. What he did say was “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way.”
“The ends justify the means.” Actually, Niccolo Machiavelli said something quite different: “One must consider the final result.”
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi’s actual quote was: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”
Image: Cuahl http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cquote1.svg
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA marketing communications firm. To get a believable quote for your public relations campaign, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.