Edited by Clifton Fadiman

More than 4,000 vignettes are collected in this volume, which is tailor-made for speech writers in search of the right story for a special occasion or for those who enjoy browsing among quotes from our brightest wordsmiths. There are dazzling insults, such as, "When the filming of A Bill of Divorcement was complete, Katharine Hepburn turned to co-star John Barrymore, saying, 'Thank God I don't have to act with you anymore!' " He replied, "I didn't know you ever had, darling." There is the ironic twist: "[Jean] Cocteau was once asked if he believed in luck. 'Of course,' he replied. 'How else do you explain the success of those you don't like?' " There is the faintly ribald: "The novelist Fannie Hurst wanted to surprise FDR with the change in her appearance since she had been on a diet. She managed to slip unannounced into his office. The President looked up as she entered, then gestured for her to turn around in front of him. When she completed the turn, he commented, 'The Hurst may have changed, but it's the same old fanny' " And there is the pathetic: "As Pancho Villa lay dying, his last words were, 'Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something.' " (Little, Brown, $29.95)

  • Contributors:
  • Ralph Novak,
  • Campbell Geeslin,
  • Eric Levin.