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Backwards in Heels

From Robert D. Bott in a chat room (with his permission)

I haven't read all the Albright coverage, but I'll bet somewhere there will be the quote about Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did on the dance floor "but backwards in high heels." The same quote, usually attributed to Rogers herself, gets trotted out whenever a woman breaks through a glass ceiling, or attempts to: Ann Richards, Hillary Clinton, et al., and just yesterday by Cory Booker referring to Judge Jackson.

However, Rogers denied ever saying it. The official Ginger Rogers website attributes the quote to cartoonist Bob Thaves, in a 1982 panel of his Frank and Ernest strip. In the cartoon (which certainly popularized if it did not originate the saying), Frank and Ernest are shown gazing at a billboard announcing a Fred Astaire film festival. The caption reads: "Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did…backwards and in high heels."

Although Thaves is generally regarded as first to publish the line, former Republican politician Faith Whittlesey is probably responsible for starting to popularize it, in a 1984 speech about her work in the Reagan White House. The phrase really took flight after Ann Richards used it in her 1988 address to the Democratic convention.


Robert E. Malchman

"Rob Bott"? In a chat room? I'm dubious.

Paul Schindler

I looked him up. He’s real


He is an actual ex upi
Reporter. Looked him up

Sent from my iPhone

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