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 27, 2013
“Ability is what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter”

"Ability is what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter” is an old saying about business that is of unknown authorship. ”Ambition — What will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter” was cited in print in 1956. “Some of the latest yarns making the rounds in the big town...like the fellow who defined ability as ‘what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter’” was cited in print in 1960.


Google News Archive
8 December 1936, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Hollywood Today” by Sheilah Graham, pg. 17, col. 1:
Ace director-producer Mervyn Le Roy once sold newspapers outside a San Francisco theater. Which proves that hard work will get you to the top of your profession. If you can marry the boss’ daughter—as did Le Roy—so much the better—and quicker.

Google Books
May 1956, Changing Times (The Kiplinger Magazine), pg. 2, col. 1:
Ambition — What will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter.

21 November 1960, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Bexar Facts” by Morris Wilson, pg. 21, col. 7:
Every time Franklin’s manager Harry Cohen returns from a New York buying trip, he passes on some of the latest yarns making the rounds in the big town...like the fellow who defined ability as “what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter.”

Google Books
Braude’s Treasury of Wit and Humor
By Jacob Morton Braude
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1964
Pg. 227:
Ability: what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter.

Google Books
Encyclopedia of Humor
By Joey Adams
New York, NY: Bonanza Books
1968
Pg. 227:
Ability is what will get you to the top — if the boss has no daughter.

3 May 1972, Springfield (MA) Union, “Sunny Side Up” by Sol Margoles, pg. 39, col. 2 ad:
Ability: what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter.
(BF Goodrich ad—ed.)

Google Books
Phillips’ Book of Great Thoughts and Funny Sayings:
A Stupendous Collection of Quotes, Quips, Epigrams, Witticisms, and Humorous Comments

By Bob Phillips
Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House
1993
Pg. 2:
Ability is what will get you to the top if the boss has no daughter.

Google Books
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
1995, ©1968
Pg. 15:
It is hard to get to the top if the boss has no daughter, and even harder if he has a son.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Sunday, January 27, 2013 • Permalink