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Famous Phrases They Never Said

October 03, 2006


Neil Armstrong’s famous quote “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” has become one of the best- known in history.


For nearly four decades, it was claimed the first man on the moon fluffed his lines — because man and mankind mean the same thing.


Armstrong was supposed to say: “That’s one small step for a man . . .” But yesterday the space pioneer was cleared — thanks to new analysis of the historic 1969 recording.


The findings show there is an acoustic wave where the “a” was meant to be — and it was simply not audible over the broadcast static.


Here, Grant Rollings looks back at some of the other famous phrases misquoted over the centuries.


“Not a lot of people know that” — Michael Caine. The actor never uttered that well-used catchphrase. The actual quote in the film Alfie was “Not many people know this.”


“Elementary, my dear Watson” — Sherlock Holmes. Author Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote these words for his pipe-smoking detective. The quote actually appeared in a film review in the New York Times in 1929.


“Beam me up, Scotty” — Captain Kirk. The closest Star Trek’s captain came to using this phrase was “Beam us up, Mr Scott.”


“Play it again, Sam” — Humphrey Bogart. In 1942 movie Casablanca, Bogart in fact says “If she can stand it, I can. Play it!” while actress Ingrid Bergman says “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.”


“Let them eat cake” — Marie Antoinette. She actually said: “Let them eat bread.”


“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” — William Congreve. This is a shortened version of the playwright’s: “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned”


“You dirty rat” — James Cagney. Anyone impersonating the Hollywood legend uses this phrase, even though it was never uttered by Cagney in any movie.


“Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.” — Hamlet. William Shakespeare’s line actually reads: “Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”


“Kiss me, Hardy” — Horatio Nelson. Popular legend says the naval hero uttered these final words to the captain of HMS Victory, Thomas Hardy, after receiving a fatal wound during the Battle of Trafalgar. But some historians argue Nelson in fact said: “Kismet, Hardy.” Kismet is “fate” in Turkish.


“Me Tarzan, you Jane” — Tarzan. This phrase does not appear in any Tarzan film, nor in the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs.


“Spare the rod, spoil the child” — The Bible. The correct quote from Proverbs 13:24 is: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”


“Religion is the opiate of the masses” — Karl Marx. The communist philosopher’s full quote was: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”


“Do you feel lucky, punk?” — Clint Eastwood. As Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. Clint’s full line was: “I know what you’re thinking, punk. You’re thinking, ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ . . . But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”