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 March 16, 2019
“Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs”

"Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs” is a saying about a lack of professionalism. American film and theatre actor Charles Coburn (1877-1961) worried that actors were being taught by amateurs to be amateurs, and that universities didn’t take its drama departments seriously. “We find amateurs teaching amateurs how to be amateurs,” Coburn was quoted in The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) on February 8, 1941.

“Yet the American university, as an institution, maintains an airy academic detachment towards its ‘extracurricular activity’ little theater, demands no professional standards, and is content in ‘graduating amateurs to teach amateurs to become amateurs,’” Coburn was quoted in the San Francisco (CA) Examiner on March 29, 1942. The saying has been applied in many different professions. “Amateurs Teach Amateurs to Be Amateurs” was printed in the magazine Black Belt in August 1971.

“My father-in-law has a favorite saying: ‘Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs.’ It’s not enough to recruit men with good hearts; you also need men who have skills” was printed in the book Pastoring Men: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever (2009) by Patrick Morley. “’Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs.’ - Mike Krak, golf professional” was posted on Twitter by Jim Ericson on April 26, 2010.


Wikipedia: Charles Coburn
Charles Douville Coburn (June 19, 1877 – August 30, 1961) was an American film and theatre actor. Best known for his work in comedies, Coburn received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for 1943’s The More the Merrier.

8 February 1941, The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), “Stage, Movies Near Death?—Charles Coburn, Distinguished Actors, Says Something Must Be Done to Give Young Actors Professional Training or Stage, Films Will Both Die” by Frderick C. Othman, pg. 3, col. 5:
HOLLYWOOD, (UP)—Charles Coburn, the distinguished American actor, charged today that the stage had not produced an outstanding star, male or female, since 1926.
(...)
He said that universities, high schools, and colleges through the land are spending millions of dollars for magnificent theaters and equipment.

‘And what happens?” he asked. “We find amateurs teaching amateurs how to be amateurs. Now it may be fun for the amateurs on the stage to scamper around behind the footlights, with an amateur in the person of a lady from the English department as director, but its tough on the audiences.”

29 March 1942, San Francisco (CA) Examiner, “Charles Coburn Indicts College Little Theater” by Kevin Wallace, Pictorial Review sec., pg. 6, col. 4:
In the name of the admittedly languishing American theater, Charles Coburn, the distinguished character actor, has delivered a severe indictment of the little theater system of American universities.

The remarks, made last year at the University of California at Los Angeles, have now been printed, with the indorsement of most of the Broadway-Hollywood bluebook, in a University of California Press pamphlet entitled “‘They Imitated Humanity So Abominably’—Is the University Content in Sponsoring a Spurious Theater?”
(...)
Yet the American university, as an institution, maintains an airy academic detachment towards its “extracurricular activity” little theater, demands no professional standards, and is content in “graduating amateurs to teach amateurs to become amateurs.”

8 July 1942, Hartford (CT) Daily Courant, “Hollywood Highlights” by Howard Heffernan, pg. 20, col. 8:
He (Charles Coburn—ed.) is vastly concerned about the state of acting in America and insists that the Universities, with their habit of having amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs are ruining the profession.

Google Books
August 1971, Black Belt, pg. 24, col. 1:
AMATEURS TEACH AMATEURS TO BE AMATEURS
A professional wrestler and a former two-time AAU judo champ exposes judo’s limitations in comparison to pro wrestling
by Gene LeBell as told to C. Morgan

16 December 1972, Hartford (CT) Courant, “Going to the Movies Can Earn a Degree” (AP), pg. 50, col. 2:
The big question is: How well can universities prepare students for film making careers?

This has been a source of disillusionment for many film students after graduation. Some of them complain that “amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs.”

Google Books
Keep Swinging!:
Approach Your Senior Years Without Skipping a Beat

By Sam Ulano
Danbury, CT: Vital Health Publishing
2005
Pg. 32:
Or, as I’ve heard for years, amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs; PROFESSIONALS TEACH PROFESSIONALS TO BE PROFESSIONAL.

Google Books
Pastoring Men:
What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever

By Patrick Morley
Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers
2009
Pg. 110:
My father-in-law has a favorite saying: “Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs.” It’s not enough to recruit men with good hearts; you also need men who have skills.

Twitter
Hans ⚡️
@hlooman
Amateurs teach amateurs how to be amateurs ~ Talk to professionals (via @WealthyAttitude)
12:15 AM - 28 Oct 2009

Twitter
Jim Ericson
@jeericson
“Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs.” - Mike Krak, golf professional
8:48 AM - 26 Apr 2010

Conversation Kindling
16 May 2014
Amateurs Teach Amateurs to Be Amateurs
(...)
When we walked in, he pointed the way to his office. Office? Yup. And, his name was on the door: Mike Krak. PGA Professional. Director of Golf. Hmmmm.
I sat and we talked. Or, rather, I talked and Mike listened. He was trying to understand my golf swing problem from my point of view. He later explained that knowing how my mind worked would help him communicate with me in a way I could understand. Toward the end of our conversation, I glanced up at the wall behind his desk and saw a quote etched on a plaque. The words struck me:

“Amateurs Teach Amateurs to Be Amateurs.”

I asked him about it. He told me a story. He had been giving golf lessons for over 30 years. He had given 10-15-20 thousand lessons. He had worked with pros - including some who were on the PGA and LPGA tours - and amateurs ranging in handicap from scratch or better to the sky’s the limit. He saw a huge difference in how the pros sought to improve their game and how the amateurs did it: the pros sought advice and took lessons from highly qualified golf professionals - folks who make a career teaching the whys and wherefores of the game; almost all the amateurs got their advice from well-meaning friends and family members - folks who claimed to know the game, but didn’t.

Twitter
Joey Tranchina
@JoeyFotoFr
As if killing Kurds is not
Erdoğan’s top priority.

For 20 yrs,
I had a sign
in my darkroom:

AMATEURS
TEACH AMATEURS
TO BE AMATEURS Joey Tranchina added,
Globe Post Turkey
@GlobePostTurkey
Rex Tillerson Says Turkey’s Afrin Operation Is Detracting From Anti-ISIS Fight http://turkey.theglobepost.com/tillerson-afrin-turkey/
11:31 AM - 13 Feb 2018

Naples (FL) Daily News
Letters to the editor for NDN Saturday, March 16, 2019
Published 6:00 a.m. ET March 16, 2019
(...)
The old saying “Amateurs teach amateurs to be amateurs” will always be true, especially in the case of the current Democrat Party. When you support socialism, illegals over citizens, spending over balanced budgets, excessive regulations and high taxes, it’s a sure recipe for failure.
Diane Miranda, Naples

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, March 16, 2019 • Permalink