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.

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Entry from September 23, 2013
“Money can’t buy friends, but it can get a better class of enemy”

"Money can’t buy friends, but it can get a better class of enemy” is a jocular saying that has been reprinted many times. “Money can’t get you friends, but it can get you a better class of enemies” was printed in many newspapers in 1952 and 1953, without credit to any author. Newspaper columnist Walter Winchell‘s “On Broadway” column for February 24, 1955 contained:

“Overheard: ‘There’s one thing about money. If it can’t buy you more friends, it does attract a better class of enemy.’”

Winchell did not credit a source. “A mink coat may not get girl many friends but it does get her better class of enemy” was credited to Belgian film actress and singer Annie Cordy in April 1956. Irish comedian Spike Milligan (1918-2002) wrote in 1963, “Money couldn’t buy friends but you got a better class of enemy.” Milligan is usually credited with the line, but it doesn’t appear that he said it first.


Wikipedia: Annie Cordy
Léonie Cooreman, known under the stage name Annie Cordy (born 16 June 1928), is a Belgian film actress and singer. She has appeared in 50 films since 1954. She has staged many memorable appearances at Bruno Coquatrix’ famous Paris Olympia. Her version of “La Ballade de Davy Crockett” was number 1 in the charts for five weeks in France in August 1956.

Wikipedia: Spike Milligan
Spike Milligan KBE (born Terence Alan Milligan; 16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002) was an Irish comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor of English and Irish parentage. His early life was spent in British India, where he was born, but the majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom.

26 March 1952, Sheppard (Sheppard AFB, TX) Senator, pg. 2, col. 4:
Money can’t get you friends, but it can get you a better class of enemies.

4 April 1952, Amarillo (TX) Globe-Times, “Polk Street Professor,” pg. 18, col. 4:
Some guy was tellin’ of a fellow who claimed exemption from the draft because of poor eyesight and he brought his wife along to prove it. He said to speak well of your enemies—you made ‘em. He said money won’t get friends for you but with it you can sure get a better class of enemies.

11 March 1953, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Today’s Chuckle,” pg. 1, col. 5:
Money can’t get you friends, but it can get you a better class of enemies.

24 February 1955, Springfield (MA) Union, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 19, col. 1:
Overheard: “There’s one thing about money. If it can’t buy you more friends, it does attract a better class of enemy.”

29 April 1956, Daily Boston Globe (Boston, MA), “What They Said‎,” pg. C12:
A mink coat may not get girl many friends but it does get her better class of enemy-Comedienne ANNY CORDY

22 October 1956, Medicine Hat (Alberta) News, pg. 12, col. 7 ad:
There’s something about money. It may not buy you more friends, but It does attract a better class of enemy.
(Lang Bros. & Gibson Ltd., Insurance Specialists—ed.)

Google News Archive
2 March 1971, Evening Times (Scotland), “It’s a Fact,” pg. 4, col. 4:
THERE’S one thing about money. If it cannot buy you more friends it does attract a better class of enemy.

8 November 1974, Boston (MA) Globe, “The Arts,” pg. 41:
As the immortal Spike Milligan has observed: “Money can t buy friends, but it can get a better class of enemy.”

Google Books
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
Edited by Susan Ratcliffe
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2011
Pg. 252:
Spike. Milligan. 1918-2002. Irish comedian
Money couldn’t buy friends but you got a better class of enemy.
Puckoon (1963) ch. 6

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Monday, September 23, 2013 • Permalink