That's Rich of Wallis

Daily Mail (London), February 9, 2011 | Go to article overview

That's Rich of Wallis


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION PLEASE settle a bet. I say that Wallis simpson coined the phrase, 'you can never be too rich or too thin'. My friend claims it was Kate Moss.

OVER the years, this popular maxim has been attributed to Dorothy Parker, Joan Rivers, Rose Kennedy, Diana Vreeland, Mrs J. Gordon Douglas Sr. of Newport and, most often, either Wallis Simpson or Babe Paley. In the early 1970s, Mrs Simpson even had these words embroidered on a pillow.

The American socialite also said: 'All my friends know that I'd rather shop than eat,' and 'I look 100 and weigh 110'. No matter how rich and thin she may have been, Mrs Simpson was not particularly clever and is unlikely to have coined this phrase, but she certainly did live it.

She was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896 and grew up to be the Duchess of Windsor, wife of the former King Edward VIII. Despite poor beginnings, Wallis was educated in private schools and became used to only the best. Her slim frame and designer clothes gave her an attractive allure, although she was not a natural beauty.

Her tempestuous affair with the Prince of Wales made her a longstanding enemy of the British establishment and she lived her later years as a recluse before her death in 1986.

The intriguing story of her colourful life has made her the subject of several films in recent years, including the Oscar-nominated The King's Speech and Madonna's forthcoming directorial debut, W.E.

Babe Paley is a more promising candidate than Mrs Simpson to have come up with the quote. The beautiful wife of CBS founder William Paley was known for her tart tongue but no credible evidence exists that she coined this remark.

The most likely candidate of all is one to whom the observation is seldom attributed -- author Truman Capote. According to quote compiler Alec Lewis, Capote said he observed that you can't be too rich or thin on The David Susskind Show in the late 1950s (probably 1959). Capote was close to Babe Paley and could have fed her the line.

The quote has never been associated with Kate Moss, so your friend is most likely confusing it with a remark that got the supermodel into trouble in 2009. She caused a furore after mentioning in a magazine interview that one of her mottos is the phrase, 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'.

The saying is a watchword for anorexics and bulimia sufferers and she was accused of encouraging young girls to diet. However, she tried to qualify the remark, adding: 'You try and remember, but it never works.' Despite the controversy, her career has continued to flourish.

Michelle Egan, Co. Roscommon.

questIon Compiled by Charles Legge I HAVe come across at least three pubs that claim to be the oldest in Ireland. Which one should really hold this distinction?

BEYOND a shadow of a doubt, the oldest pub in Ireland is Sean's Bar in the centre of Athlone, close to Athlone Castle, which can trace its history back with considerable certainty to AD 900 or 1,111 years ago.

Sean's Bar bases its claims on archaeological investigations that were carried out during renovations in 1970. Parts of the original wattle and wicker walls were found, together with a selection of old coins from this period. Much of what was found during those excavations was transferred to the National Museum of Ireland, although some material was put on display in the pub and the Compiled by James Black museum's authentication was later confirmed by what is now the Guinness World Records.

The publication has stated with utter confidence that Sean's Bar is the oldest pub in Ireland. Two other contenders were ruled out at an early stage. For many years, the Brazen Head in Dublin claimed to be the oldest pub in Ireland, tracing its origins back to 1198. But in fact, it is three centuries younger than Sean's Bar, although it can and does claim now, perfectly accurately, to be the oldest pub in Dublin. …

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