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 January 21, 2009
“No good deed goes unpunished (in Washington)”

"No good deed goes unpunished” is a humorous reverse of the classical “No good deed goes unrewarded. No bad deed goes unpunished.” Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) is often credited with the quip, but her first association with the line is documented from only 1957.

New York columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) wrote this in his column of October 5, 1942: “Reminds me of the line diplomats use: ‘No good deed goes unpunished in Washington.’” It is probable that Winchell popularized the saying. There is a 1938 citation that is similar: “‘Every good deed brings its own punishment.’”


Wikiquote
Clare Boothe Luce (April 10, 1903 - October 9, 1987) was an American playwright, journalist, editor, ambassador and political figure.
(...)
Unsourced
. No good deed goes unpunished. 

The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pp. 476-477:
Clare Booth Luce
U.S. politician and writer, 1903-1987
“No good deed goes unpunished.”
Attributed in Wash. Post, 5 Jan. 1957. Usually associated with Luce, but there is an earlier occurrence of “No good deed goes unpunished” in the Zanesville (Ohio) , 5 Nov. 1942, attributed there to Walter Winchell. The saying may in fact be proverbial; the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs cited “1938 J. AGATE Ego 3 25 Jan. 275 Pavia was in great form to-day: ‘Every good deed brings its own punishment.’”

Google Books
Six Years Later: Or, The Taking of the Bastille.
Being the Sequel To, and Continuation of “The Memoirs of a Physician,” and “The Queen’s Necklace; Or, The Secret History of the Court of Louis the Sixteenth.”

By Alexandre Dumas
Published by T. B. Peterson
1851
Pg. 16:
...people are right in saying that a good deed never goes unrewarded.

Google Books
Vestiges of the Spirit-History of Man
By S. F. Dunlap (Samuel Fales Dunlap—ed.)
New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company
1858
Pg. 345:
His (Buddha’s—ed.) doctrine was that the events of this life are controlled by the acts committed during a former existence: that no wrong action remains unpunished, no good deed unrewarded.

Google Books
The letters to Gilbert White of Selborne From His Intimate Friend and Contemporary the Rev. John Mulso
By John Mulso, Rashleigh Holt-White, Gilbert White
Published by R.H. Porter
1907
Pg. 260:
...justified the old Eastern Adige, That a good Deed never goes unrewarded.

Google Books
The “Summa Theologica” of St. Thomas Aquinas
By Thomas Aquinas
Published by T. Baker
1917
Item notes: V.3 NO.4
Pg. 222:
Now no evil deed is unpunished by God the just judge. Therefore no good deed is unrewarded, and so every good deed merits some good. 

5 October 1942, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “Walter Winchell On Broadway,” pg. 4, col. 3:
Reminds me of the line diplomats use: “No good deed goes unpunished in Washington.”

5 November 1942, Zanesville (OH) Signal, “Walter Winchell On Broadway,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Eric Brandies of the Journal-American’s essay department reports: “One of our columnists said that “no good deed goes unpunished in Washington”...Thanks for the ad.

Google Books
You Can Change the World!:
The Christopher Approach

By James Keller
New York, NY: Longmans, Green and Company
1948
Pg. 366:
“No good deed goes unpunished” runs the favorite quip of one zealous Christopher who has had her share of “knocks,” but who realizes that a sense of humor…

16 November 1951, Hartford (CT) Courant, “Old Adage Recalled As Army Service Proves Undoing Of Illegal Immigrant,” pg. 20:
There is an old saying that “No good deed goes unpunished.”

13 January 1953, New York (NY) Times, pg. 8:
As a Dutch official expressed it, “no good deed will ever remain unpunished.’’

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 • Permalink