Page One: These Quotes
Are Famous, But Are They Real?
Misquote: “That's one
small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
the debate continues: what Armstrong claims he said, was “That's one
small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” The “a” inaudible
because of static.
“I am extraordinarily patient providing I get my own way in the end.”
The quote taken
from a March 1982 European Council meeting.
“When I'm out of politics I'm going to run a business, it'll be called
General Anthony Clement "Nuts" McAuliffe
the Battle of the Bulge, WW2, the 101st Airborne at Bastogne was
besieged by a far larger force of Germans. They were offered an
ultimatum, it read: December 22, 1944 "To the U.S.A. Commander of the
encircled town of Bastogne. The fortune of war is changing. This time
the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong
German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river
Our near Ortheuville . . . There is only one possibility to save the
encircled U.S.A. troops from annihilation: that is the honorable
surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of
two hours will be granted . . . The order for firing will be given
immediately after this two hours term . . . The German Commander." The
answer was as follows: 22 December 1944 "To the German Commander: NUTS!
The American Commander."
Real: "I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it".
Real: "You make a movie, and if somebody reads something into it, then great, more power to him."
Real: "I've taken up the bible again, somewhat in the spirit of W.C. Fields—looking for loopholes."
“You're not really famous until you're a Pez dispenser.”
“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to
send Lucas a couple of bucks.”
“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.”
“Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to
of us who do.”
Real: "We're not in Kansas anymore."
The phrase, in its entirety, reads: "Toto,
I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." To which is added, as Dorothy looks around in amazement: "We must be over the
Rainbow." And then, hesitantly, following the arrival (in a giant
bubble) of Glinda the Good Witch: "Now I know we're not in Kansas."—The
quote, though somewhat dated and perhaps a little hackneyed, has become
a cultural metaphor for the uncertainties life throws our way.
like the Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz,
we learn from
the experience. In the meantime, follow the
yellow brick road, your Emerald City (metaphors notwithstanding) awaits.—Or just watch the movie. 
Real: "There's no place like home."
No, Aunt Em—this
was a real . . . and I remember that some of it wasn't very nice . . .
but most of it was beautiful. But just the same, all I kept saying to
everybody was, I want to go home. And they sent me home . . . Home! And
this is my room—and you're all here! And I'm not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And—Oh, Auntie Em—there's no place like home!—FADE OUT
Real: (A) "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." (B) Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you're gonna get.
are correct: From the movie's script: Forrest
to a nurse at a bus stop—I could eat about a million and a half
of these. My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never
know what you're gonna get." From the movie's script: Forrest to his dying mother—What's
my destiny, Momma? Mother: You're gonna have to figure that out for yourself.
Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you're gonna
Misattribution  and a misquote: "The only two certainties in life are death and taxes."
said a lot of things, this was not one of them. The quote, or a version
thereof, is usually attributed to Ben Franklin, who in a 1789 letter
wrote "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance
that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be
certain, except death and taxes." The Yale Book of Quotations,
begging to differ, gives the nod to Christopher Bullock "Tis
impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes."
Misattribution: “Golf is a
good walk spoiled.”
attributed to Twain by periodicals such as The Saturday Evening Post
and The Reader's Digest there is no substantive evidence that Twain is the author.
Real: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
full quote reads: "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The
secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks
into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."
A combination effort
ending in a
misquote: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San
closest resemblence to the aforementioned appears in an 1879 letter, in
which Twain quoted an acquaintance who, when asked if he'd ever seen
such a cold winter, replied “Yes, last summer.” Twain's comeback. “I
judge he spent
his summer in Paris.” (Twain is, however, solely responsible for “If
you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.”)
“Whenever I feel the urge to exercise I lie down until it goes away.”
A line also attributed to Jimmy Durante, Paul Terry (founder of
Terrytoons), J. P. Mcevoy, Edna Mae Oliver and others.
“If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the
newspaper you are misinformed.”
Misattribution: "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
This quote was actually first voiced by British journalist Alex Hamilton (no relation) in a 1978 radio broadcast.
Misattribution and a
definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and
expecting different results.”
is no verifiable proof anywhere of Einstein actually saying this (but
politicians love to quote/reference/use it). A similar quote “insanity
is repeating the
same mistakes and expecting different results” can be found in
“approval version” of the Narcotics Anonymous “Basic Text” released
November 1981 (pdf STEP TWO end of 4th paragraph page 11). No
reflection on professor Einstein but perhaps a more logical source.
Real: "The court makes an amazing amount of decisions that ought to be made by the people."
"No government official is 'tempted' to place restraints upon his own
freedom of action, which is why Lord Acton did not say 'Power tends to
Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Lord Acton actually wrote was "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power
corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when
they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd
the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority."
“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the
last stand on Earth.”
Reagan's 1964 speech “A Tme For Choosing” considered by many to be the
speech that launched his career in politics.
Real: "In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem."
Excerpt from Ronald Reagan's first Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981.
“To those who are fainthearted and unsure, I have this message: If
you're afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside.
The people of this country are ready to move again.”
Remarks at a Virginia Republican Party Rally, September 29,1982.
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
line from a speech exhorting the leader of the Soviet Union to remove
the barrier dividing East and West Berlin, June 12, 1987.
"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed
which outlaws Russia forever. The bombs begin in five minutes."
A joke, somewhat improper, said during a radio microphone test.
Real: "I don't know where I am."
From Patti Davis writing about her father, Ronald Reagan, later in life and
suffering from dementia: I watched as fear invaded my father's eyes—this
man who was never afraid of anything. I heard his voice tremble as he
stood in the living room and said, "I don't know where I am."
 The Wizard of Oz (1939) of course.
means to attribute incorrectly, as in "He misattributed the quote to
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