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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, March 18, 1962, Image 128

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1962-03-18/ed-1/seq-128/

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How To Succeed \
In Writing Very I
Long Titles
WiY/toul Even wwrJIMKz I
If the theatrical season of
1961-62 accomplishes nothing else,
it will be noteworthy for producing
several of the longest titles within
memory of man. The first is, of
course, the smash musical, How To
£at creed lit Business Without Really
Trying —for which one cannot suc
ceed in buying a seat without really
And on the horizon there is a chal
lenger: A Funny Thing Happened
On The Way Ta The
Forum, an upcoming mus
ical with Zero Mostel.
And if you want to
count off-Broadway pro-
BA- B ductions, the season has
Zaro MoM a ' so g* ven us a little gem
with an almost continuous
title: Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s
Hung Fou In The Closet And I’m
Feelin’ So Sad. Apparently the
author began running out of steam
at that point, because the play itself
was so short that the evening had to
be filled out with a curtain raiser.
Only once in history, as far as I
know, has a writer succeeded in
turning out a title longer than the
work itself. That was Strickland
Gillilan, whose famed classic read:
Linet Upon The Antiquity Os Fleas
Adam had 'em.
At the rate Broadway is going,
Mr. Giliilan’s laurels are in peril.
The book world is lagging be
hind Broadway in titles. Outside of
the book called How To Succeed In
Business Without Really Trying
upon which the musical was based,
there has been only one real bang-up
title in recent years: How I Turned
SI,OOO Into A Million In Real Estate
In My Spare Time.
Books have done much better
on short titles, though. Rudyard
Kipling’s Kim was not only a model
of thrift, but inspired the christen
ing of many of our present-day
actresses. Rider Haggard’s She
shared the short-title record for
many years, until Charles Lindbergh
wrote his famous We.
The movies have had their tri
umphs too. In 1927 Elinor Glyn
wrote a frisky picture for Clara
Bow, called It. Many readers will
remember that IT meant sex-appeal.
Those were the good old days if
you wanted to produce the picture
now, you’d have to get into a real
long title, like Oomph.
We are also indebted to the
movies for the only known title
without a vowel Phffft! It was
also phffft! at the box office.
Apart from long titles, what makes
a good title? I asked a number of
publisher friends and they all said a
good title is any title that sells.
Lowell Pratt, of Thomas Nelson
& Sons, reminded me of an old
publishing-industry gag, based on
the fact that books about Abraham
Lincoln, medicine or dogs always
sell. So the perfect book title must be:
Lincoln's Doctor’s Dog
Bill Morris, of Grolier, reminded
me that cookbooks were also sure
fire, so the title might be improved:
Lincoln’s Doctor's Dog’s
Favorite Recipes
And Joe Vergara, of Harper
& Brothers, pointed out that books
on dieting were big, so it should be:
Lincoln’* Doctor’s Dog’s
Favorite Low-Calorie Recipes
At this point I stopped my re
search. I was getting too close to
How To Succeed In Business With
out Really Trying.
THIS WEEK Magaalaa / Mardi It, 1»42

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