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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2002 7:37 am 
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I am writing a book and am using the quote "dying is easy comedy is hard." I have searched for the source to whom to attribute this quote. The only thing I've found is that it is attributable to a vaudevillian but no name has been attached to this quote. If anyone knows the source of this qhote please email me at yepstein@rci.rutgers.edu.

Thanks.

Yakov Epstein

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 6:01 am 
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Not conclusive but here are a couple of things I found online.

Quote:
When Sir Donald Wolfit, the last of the great English actor/managers, was lying on his death bed, one of his young actors said to him:
"Sir Donald, after a life so filled with success and fame, dying must be hard..."
To which Sir Donald replied:
"Dying is easy....Comedy is hard."
http://www.ohr.org.il/special/purim/laugh.htm


Suspiciously similar but with completely different names:
Quote:
Being funny is not easy, as a joke told by Joan Collins in a recent Spectator column revealed. Apparently when the great actor Edward Kean was dying a young actor knelt by his side and whispered, "Sir, what is dying like?" "My boy," boomed the old thespian, "dying is easy - comedy is difficult".
http://www.draytonbird.com/markart/ma20020131.asp


Hey, here's the column in question.
Quote:
As the venerable Edmund Kean lay on his deathbed, a young actor knelt by his side and whispered to him softly, ‘Sir, what is dying like?’ ‘My boy,’ boomed the old performer, ‘dying is easy — comedy is difficult.’



Quote:
'Dying is easy, comedy is hard.'
Alan Swan (Peter O'Toole) quoting Edmund King in MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982)
http://www.movies-quotes.com/FUNNY%20QU ... UGHTER.htm


Other attributions include Edmund Gwenn, David Garrick, Groucho Marx, Marcel Marceau, and of course Oscar Wilde.

Hmmm. Edmund Gwenn, Edmund King, Edward Kean... I sense a mutating meme here. I suspect this is one of those apocryphal things we'll never figure out. It probably really appears as a line in "My Favorite Year" but I know it didn't originate there.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 10:17 am 
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Thanks. That's interesting and helpful. My wife says that it is probably attributable to Edward Kean. She heard it first when she was in acting school.
I guess we'll never know. But at least we can be fairly certain it did NOT originate in Spy Kids 2 :)

Yakov

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 4:40 pm 
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I hate attributions like "some young actor" etc. If someone actually caught a famous person's last words, it is beyond belief (for me) to think that the person's name who caught those words would not also have their name recorded in history.
Most of the Internet citings I saw in the past when I searched for this give it to Kean. By the way, I also saw it attributed to Noel Coward (to add to the list).
If you have to attribute it, I would say something like "supposedly" or "it is said," etc. Or even back away from the thing entirely with:
A famous comic actor, lying on his deathbed, was asked by a friend, "Is it hard, this dying?" "No," replied the actor. "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."

Northwestern Mutual has their money on Garrick
http://www.northwesternmutual.com/nmcom ... 050_family


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 9:16 pm 
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Yes, "famous last words" quotations are notoriously inaccurate, as we've discussed here before.

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