When Mae West's manager asked the late Gilbert Harding if he could try to sound a little sexier when he interviewed her on the radio, Harding replied:
'If, sir, I was endowed with the power of conveying unlimited sexual attraction through the potency of my voice, I would not be reduced to accepting a miserable pittance from the BBC for interviewing a faded female in a damp basement.'
An American client complained to the famous English art dealer, Lord Duveen, that a Renaissance portrait of a girl had been restored, a comment that did not endear her to him.
'My dear Madam, if you were as old as this young lady, you would have to be restored too,' he told her.
James Joyce was asked once whether he had any intention of becoming a Protestant, in view of his lapsed Catholicism.
'I may have lost my faith.' he told the enquirer, 'but I haven't lost my commonsense.'
After offering a few words of uncalled for advice to George S. Kaufman, the amateur critic was taken aback by the writer's rebuff.
'Perhaps you don't realize who I am?' he said.
'That's only half of it,' Kaufman told him.
During rehearsals for one of W. S. Gilbert's plays, which he was directing himself, the leading man, Johnston Forbes-Robertson, asked him:
'May I deliver that speech standing instead of sitting?'
'Oh, you can stand on your head, if you like,' said Gilbert.
'No, I leave that to you,' replied the actor.
On Peter Sellers:
'The only way to make a film with him is to let him direct, write and produce it as well as star in it.' — Charles Feldman
When one of Whistler's clients came to collect a portrait from the artist's studio he seemed less than satisfied with the finished product.
'Do you call that a good piece of art?' he asked insinuatingly.
'Well, do you call yourself a good piece of nature?' asked Whistler.
Gioacchino Rossini became used to would-be composers asking for his opinion of their compositions, and he usually listened to their efforts with patience. But one pushy young man rubbed him up the wrong way by bringing not just one of his works, but two, so that Rossini could select the one he liked best. The composer listened to the first piece without comment, but as the visitor reached for the score of his second work, Rossini stopped him saying:
'Don't trouble yourself to play further. I much prefer the second.'
During the course of a tedious conversation with a woman who insisted on trying to convince him that her family was superior to his own, the American rabbi, Stephen Wise, gradually lost his temper. Finally, when the woman told him grandly that one of her ancestors had witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he snapped back:
'Mine were present at the giving of the Ten Commandments.'