Dear Quote Investigator: ns love the adhering to catty quotation that was stated by one Hollywood gibbs or actress about another demonstrate who had allegedly slept her means to success:

She’s the original great time that’s been had by all.

You are watching: A good time was had by all

Can you tell me who said this and who to be the target the the gibe?

Quote Investigator: This wordplay joke is based upon a comical alteration of a timeless expression that enthusiasm: A great time was had by all. The jest is frequently attributed to the famed film star Bette Davis and sometimes come the significant English theatre critic Kenneth Tynan.

But neither is attributed in the earliest circumstances of this quip located by QI i beg your pardon was published in a 1946 publication by the significant gossip columnist Earl Wilson. The actress who yielded the barb appeared in multiple movies in the 1930s and 1940s yet is not famed today. The target of her ire was unidentified :

The tallish, beautiful actress, Leonora Corbett, can likewise claw v her painted lips. Seeing a reputedly loosened woman waggling past, miss Corbett remarked, “There goes the original good time that’s been had actually by all.” Of one actress whose ability was stated by everybody come be much less than negative, miss Corbett said, “She has an ext talent come the square head 보다 anybody i know.”

Here are added selected citations in chronological order.

In June 1946 the hoax was published in a profession publication dubbed “The Oil Weekly”. Neither the speaker nor the target the the comment was figured out :

An actress, upon seeing a questionable dame passing, sweetly remarked: “There walk the original great time the was had actually by all.”

In 1973 the saying to be attributed come Bette Davis in a compendium assembled by the movie enthusiast Leslie Halliwell title “The Filmgoer’s book of Quotes”. The adhering to comment was purportedly directed by Davis at an unknown actress who “slept her means to the top” :

I watch – she’s the original an excellent time the was had actually by all.

In 1974 Kenneth Hurren, a critic for The Spectator (UK), used the expression if describing a character in a beat he to be reviewing :

… a willowy however rather worn lady named Carmel Scott that is probably talked of in Sydney literature circles as the good time that’s been had by all and whose approach to prospective authors might easily progressive a couple of eyebrows even in Bloomsbury.

In 1980 a obelisk in the Seattle Times discussed “The publication of Hollywood Quotes: the Insults, the Insights, the renowned Lines” by Gary Herman. Several price quotes were reprinted consisting of one ascribed to Davis. In this variant words “who” to be substituted for “that” in Halliwell’s variation :

Bette Davis, on one unnamed starlet: “She’s the original an excellent time — that was had by all.”

In 1986 the speak was published in “The Penguin thesaurus of modern Humorous Quotations” whereby it to be attributed come Bette Davis. The wording was similar to that used in Halliwell’s compilation .

According come the Oxford dictionary of Humorous quotations the adhering to has to be attributed come the drama critic Kenneth Tynan that was born in 1927. The reference argues that the deployed the quip while he to be an undergraduate in ~ Oxford college :

There, standing at the piano, was the original an excellent time who had been had actually by all.

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In conclusion, the earliest for sure citation located by QI is in Earl Wilson’s 1946 book, and Wilson attributed the words to the actress Leonora Corbett. It is possible that Bette Davis and Kenneth Tynan likewise used the quip. Indeed, one of two people one may have actually used it prior to Corbett, but the evidence currently available to QI says that Corbett should receive the credit.

1946, Pikes emergence or Bust through Earl Wilson, page 221, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, N.Y. (Verified ~ above paper)

1946 June 24, The Oil Weekly, Squeaks native the Bull Wheel, This Curious World, web page 170, Houston, Gulf Pub. Co. (Verified on paper)

1974, The Filmgoer’s publication of estimates by Leslie Halliwell, Section: last Round Up, page 215, , Arlington House, brand-new Rochelle, brand-new York. (Verified top top paper)

1974 September 14, The Spectator, Section: testimonial of the Arts, Kenneth Hurren on a liven night down Under, , web page 342, Spectator, London. (Verified on microfilm)

1980 July 20, Seattle (Daily) Times, Quips and Quotes from the Hollywood greats by Victor Wilson, page E12, Seattle, Washington. (GenealogyBank)

1986, The Penguin dictionary of contemporary Humorous quote compiled by Fred Metcalf, Section: Promiscuity, web page 203, shaft 1, Viking Penguin, brand-new York. (Verified top top paper)

2008, Oxford thesaurus of Humorous quote edited through Ned Sherrin, classification Character, page 49, Oxford college Press, new York. (Verified top top paper)