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 December 01, 2012
“My wife dresses to kill; she cooks the same way”

"My wife dresses to kill—and she cooks the same way” is a joke that has been credited to New York comedian and “king of the one-liners” Henny Youngman (1906-1998), but the joke is older than his act. “Flapper: She who dresses to kill and cooks the same way” was cited in print in 1932. “Pvt. Umbriago says that the 1945 model gal dresses to kill—and cooks the same way” was cited in print in 1945. “Stanridge says his wife dresses to kill and cooks the same way” was cited in print in 1949.

The joke was very popular in the 1950s. Youngman has been credited with the joke since 1982.


5 May 1932, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Definitions,” Daily Magazine, pg. 1M, col. 5:
Flapper: She who dresses to kill and cooks the same way.

26 August 1945, The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. 18, col. 6:
Impartial
Belvoir Castle
Pvt. Umbriago says that the 1945 model gal dresses to kill—and cooks the same way.

6 November 1946, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. 2-B, col. 7:
ASKED TO define the modern girl, the cynic says she dresses to kill and cooks the same way.

20 February 1949, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), pg. 28, col. 7 classified ad:
CASEY & O’BRIEN’S sales manager Stanridge says his wife dresses to kill and cooks the same way. Casey and O’Brien.

HathiTrust Digital Library
Comic Dictionary
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Horizon Press
1951
Pg. 259:
showgirl
1. More show than girl.
2. A girl who dresses fit to kill and cooks the same way.

8 December 1951, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Carnival” (comics section), pg. 16 (?):
“SHE DRESSES TO KILL ALL RIGHT! AND I BET SHE COOKS THE SAME WAY!”
(Said by a player at a card table in someone’s home—ed.)

11 December 1952, The Gazette (Baldur, Manitoba), “Funny and Otherwise,” pg. 8, col. 4:
“She always dresses to kill, doesn’t she?”
“Yes—and she cooks the same way!”

4 December 1953, Portsmouth (NH) Times, “Minego’s Sport Gossip” by Pete Minego, pg. 15, col. 5:
There is a woman in town who dressed to kill and her husband says she cooks the same way. Ouch.

Google Books
Strictly for Laughs
By Joey Adams
New York, NY: Pocket Books
1956
Pg. 49:
“My wife dresses to kill and cooks the same way,” said one miserable man.

Google News Archive
17 May 1957, Windsor (Ontario) Daily Star, pg. 3, col. 3:
Who Told You That?
“Your wife certainly dresses to kill,” remarked Smithers to his friend.

“Yes,” came the reply, “and I’m afraid she cooks the same way.”

Google News Archive
27 July 1966, Edmonton (Alberta) Journal, pg. 23, col. 1:
STUTTGART, Germany—Gunther Wiebler wooed and wed Romy Metzger, a model, after she won a best-dressed contest in 1964.

Now he has left her because she turned out to be a dud as a housekeeper. He accused her of trying to poison him after a family argument.

“My wife dresses to kill,” Wiebler told reporters. “Unfortunately, she cooks the same way.”

Google Books
The Best of American Jewish Humor
By Henry D. Spalding
Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers
1976
Pg. 20:
The doctor now turned to Joseph. “And what’s your side of the story?”

“Where there’s smoke there’s Mary’s cooking, that’s my side of it,” grumbled Joseph. “She not only dresses to kill, she cooks the same way.”

Google News Archive
17 March 1982, Spokane (WA) Chronicle, “Youngman laughs as cookies crumble” by Vernon Scott (UPI), pg. 31, col. 1:
... “My wife dresses to kill. She cooks the same way” ...

Google Books
For Better and for Worse:
The Best Quotes about Marriage

By Bruce Lansky
Deephaven, MN: Meadowbrook Press; New York, NY: Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1995
Pg. 17:
My wife dresses to kill. She cooks the same way. — Henny Youngman

Google Books
The Best Things Anybody Ever Said about Sports, Management, & Marketing
By Louis E. Boone and David L. Kurtz
Australia: Thomson South-Western
2006
Pg. 148:
“My wife dresses to kill. She cooks the same way.”
Henny Youngman (1906-1998)
American comedian

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, December 01, 2012 • Permalink