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. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 10, 2019
“Some girls climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong”

Many people attempt to climb the ladder of success, rung by rung. An anecdote was published in many newspapers in June 1930:

“Lovely Letty wasn’t in Hollywood long before she found out that some girls climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong.”

Brooklyn-born actress Mae West (1893-1980) was promoting her film, I’m No Angel (released October 6, 1933), and she described her character in the Detroit (MI) Evening News on August 2, 1933:

“Says Mae: ‘The girl climbs the ladder of success, wrong by wrong.’”

It appears that Mae West used an existing line and did not originate it, although West usually receives credit for it.

The movie Baby Face (released July 1, 1933), starring Brooklyn-born actress Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990), opened a few months before Mae West’s film and—according to IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)—used the tagline: “She climbed the ladder of success - wrong by wrong!” However, there is no evidence that Baby Face used this tagline. It appears that the wrong film has been credited.


Wikipedia: Mae West
Mary Jane West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress and playwright, most commonly known as “Mae" West.
(...)
She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.
. #832 in The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (2006) by Robert Byrne

IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
Baby Face (1933)
Taglines

She climbed the ladder of success - wrong by wrong!

3 June 1930, Bellingham (WA) Herald, “Wheezes and What Not,” pg. 1, col. 1:
Lovely Letty wasn’t in Hollywood long before she found out that some girls climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong.

9 June 1930, Decatur (AL) Daily, “Office Cat” by Junius, pg. 4, col. 7:
Lovely Letty wasn’t in Hollywood long before she found out that some girls climb the ladder of success wrong by wrong.

31 July 1933, Daily News (New York, NY), “Behind the News” by Sidney Skolsky, pg. 26, col. 2:
While on the set the other day she (Mae West—ed.) pointed to her main stems and said to me: ‘These legs have helped me climb the ladder of success—wrong by wrong.”

2 August 1933, Detroit (MI) Evening News, “Star Will Assist Without Pay in Apprentice Picture” by Harrison Carroll, pg. 11, col. 7:
Very Pun-ny
For terse descriptions, I like Mae West’s summing up of the character she portrays in “I Am No Angel.”

Says Mae: “The girl climbs the ladder of success, wrong by wrong.”

Newspapers.com
13 October 1933, The Constitution (Atlanta, GA), pg. 15, col. 1 ad:
JUST A SENSITIVE GIRL WHO CLIMBED THE LADDER OF SUCCESS WRONG BY WRONG!
(Advertisement for the film I’m No Angel.—ed.)

Newspapers.com
31 October 1933, The News-Herald (Franklin, PA), pg. 11, col. 1 ad:
I’VE CLIMBED THE LADDER OF SUCCESS...WRONG BY WRONG...!
(Advertisement for the film I’m No Angel.—ed.)

17 December 1933, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “This And That And From Here And There” by Kathryn Howard, sec. 1, pg. 6, col. 7:
A description of the coming Mae West picture is that it is the story of a girl who mounts the ladder of success, “wrong by wrong.”

Google Books
Mae West:
A Bio-bibliography

By Carol Marie Ward
New York, NY: Greenwood Press
1989
Pg. 86:
Her beauty ("being born with this face was like striking oil"), her talent (with men and with animal totems), and her essential goodness will not be compromised in her climb up the “ladder of success, wrong by wrong” (West’s publicity quip for this film).
(The film I’m No Angel.—ed.)

Google Groups: alt.quotations
mae west - any quotes by her
Wayne Aiken
6/26/98
(...)
She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong. 

Twitter
Cheeky Quotes
@CheekyQuotes
She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success… wrong by wrong. ~ Mae West #CheekyQuotes #funny #quotes
8:00 AM - 10 Jul 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, July 10, 2019 • Permalink