A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Why didn’t you take the bus?” (joke) (8/19)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (8/19)
“Oh my God, a talking sausage!” (joke) (8/19)
“Parking a single car doesn’t require much space. But parking 200 cars, now that requires a lot” (8/19)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (8/19)
More new entries...

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Entry from August 15, 2015
“Mixed emotions—when your mother-in-law drives your new car off a cliff”

"Mixed emotions,” a classic joke defines it, “are what a fellow feels when he sees his mother-in-law drive his new car off a cliff.” The joke has been extremely popular and was a favorite of Ronald Reagan and many others.

The joke was cited in print in March 1950, but no author was credited. A few weeks later, another newspaper ran the joke and credited American author D. S. Halacy Jr. (1919-2002). Brooklyn-born actor William Gargan (1905-1979) received credit in May 1950, but Hollywood press agents at this time often used columnists to put witty lines into the mouths of their clients. Halacy is the likely author.


9 March 1950, The Herald (Billings, MT), pg. 11, col. 4:
Mixed emotions: Watching your mother-in-law drive your new car over a cliff.

29 March 1950, The Daily Sikeston Standard (Sikeston, MO), pg. 2, col. 2:
Mixed emotions: Watching your mother-in-law drive your new car over a cliff.—By D. S. Halacy, Jr.

26 May 1950, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Bumpkin on Broadway” by Earl Wilson, pg. 4, col. 3:
TODAY’S BEST LAUGH: “Mixed emotions.” says William Gargan, “are what a fellow feels when he sees his mother-in-law drive his new car off a cliff.”

4 September 1950, Rockford (IL) Register-Republic, “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 18, col. 3:
Study in mixed emtoions: the man who saw his mother-in-law go over a cliff in his new convertible.

Google News Archives
13 February 1957, Ottawa (Ontario) Citizen, “Connelly’s Talks - Cars,” pg. 9, col. 1:
Ho (a salesman—ed.) defined “mixed emotions” as watching your mother-in law drive over a cliff In your brand new car.

Google Books
My Turn:
The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan

By Nancy Reagan with William Novak
New York, NY: Random House
1989
Pg. ?:
Later, Ronnie’s only complaint about Mother was that she had ruined one of his favorite jokes. For years, he like to open his speeches by telling his audience, “I face you today with mixed emotions.” Then he would define “mixed emotions” as the feelings a man has as he watches his mother-in-law drive over the cliff in his new Cadillac.

Google Books
How to Succeed in Business Purely by Dumb Luck, Accident, Help from Others, and a Fire Axe
By Henry Wheeler
Bloomington, IN: Booktango
2014
Pg. ?:
I was reminded of the old gag that defined mixed emotions as seeing your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your new Porsche.

Twitter
Blake Reagan
‏@Blake_Reagan_
Quote from CLE session: “It’s like my mother-in-law driving my new car off a cliff: I have mixed emotions about it.”
12:02 PM - 13 Aug 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, August 15, 2015 • Permalink