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Old 08-29-2003, 09:34 AM
Vlad M. Paler Vlad M. Paler is offline
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What's the origin of the phrase "Tennis, anyone?"

Is this from some literary source?
Old 08-29-2003, 09:40 AM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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Tradition holds that Humphrey Bogart had the line in a play early in his career, but I don't recall if it is true or not. It has been awhile since I read the latest biography on him, and the book is packed away for an upcoming move.
Old 08-29-2003, 09:46 AM
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Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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I thought it was 'anyone for tennis?'

Sounds like it might be P G Wodehouse or Agatha Christie or something.
Old 08-29-2003, 09:56 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Could have originated there, but it's most associated with a(n unconfirmed) story about Bogey.

I found this photo, though. And the thought of a young Bogey saunteringly skipping around, elbow raised, racquet bobbing around, with a mirthful "Tennis, anyone?" is kinda intriguing.
Old 08-29-2003, 09:57 AM
DKoral310 DKoral310 is offline
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The line appears in Philedelphia Story, but I'm sure it was corny then, told as a joke.
One of the manners comedy plays of the 20's
Old 08-29-2003, 10:11 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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A lot of guesswork going on here. This is the closest I could find to a definitive source, from Brewer's Dicitonary of Modern Phrase & Fable (a very useful book!):

Anyone for tennis? A general query based on what is regarded as a typical line iin a 1920s drawing-room comedy and uttered by a well-dressed young man entering the room carrying a tennis racket. The precise provenance of the phrase is uncertain, although it has a clear pre-echo in GB Shaw's play Misalliance (1910) in which one of the characters, Johnny Tartleton, a young businessman, rises from a swinging chair and asks the assembled company, "Anybody on for a game of tennis?"

The phrase was adopted as the title of a 1968 television play by JB Priestley and was pastiched in John Wells's farce Anyone for Denis (1981), guying Margaret Thatcher's husband.
I think we can rule out Bogey, since he was ony 11 in 1910.
Old 08-29-2003, 12:40 PM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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Humphey Bogart got his start on the stage in the 1920s, playing "well dressed young men entering a room carrying a tennis racket" and similar characters in drawing room comedies. I'll see if I can find the reference to his first role. His career was in the doldrums until he aged and started playing heavier characters.
Old 08-29-2003, 03:00 PM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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In the Dictionary of Misinformation, Tom Burnam says that Bogart always denied he uttered the line.
Old 08-30-2003, 06:23 PM
slipster slipster is offline
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Some years ago a local station in St. Louis broadcast a series of Humphrey Bogart films in the early a.m., titling the package "Bogie all night". At station breaks a snippet of an interview with Humphrey Bogart was played. In it he said (I don't claim to have the exact phrasing): "(t)here are two things I never said: 'tennis, anyone?' and 'all right Louie, drop the gun'.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotationsused to credit the phrase to Bogart, with the notation that it was his only line in his first stage role.

No one has yet addressed the point of the line. Having a person run in and say something of this kind was a cliche device for clearing the stage so that the leading man and the ingenue could be left alone to sing a love song or whatever.
Old 08-30-2003, 09:21 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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If you are asking where the exact phrase "tennis, anyone?" first appears, Barry Popik has posted over at the ADS list a cite from 1951. That's the earliest so far.

The posters who have offered the cites from early comedies are no doubt correct about the phrase having its roots in earlier play devices.


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