Tu nichts, steh einfach da.

Don’t Just Do Something; Stand There

Diesen Artikel über die Herkunft die­ses Zitats tei­le ich in sei­ner Gänze, da die­se “Weisheit” mich beson­ders unter­stützt, wenn ein Mensch mit sei­ner Art zu spre­chen mei­ne Giraffenohren vom Schädel “pus­tet”.  Dieses Sprichwort stärkt mei­ne Fähigkeit evtl. doch den “Pause” Knopf zu drü­cken, und nicht in den Automatismus zu gehen.  Einfach ste­hen  und die­se unwoh­le, unbe­que­me, hilf­lo­se Gefühl aushalten.

Ich hat­te ursprüng­lich gehört dass das Zitat von Buddha kommt — nun, wenn es hilft !!

Warum nicht?  Hier unten gibt es aber Forscher die dem genau­er nach­ge­gan­gen sind, und auch “Jesus” kommt vor.  Na also, geht doch!

Hier ist der Link zum Originalartikel: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/03/22/stand-there/)   Was ab hier folgt ist die Forschung von Garson O’Toole, der Autor des Blogs QuoteInvestigator.com

Elvis Presley? Dwight D. Eisenhower? The White Rabbit? Clint Eastwood? Martin Gabel? Adlai Stevenson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Some humo­rous quo­ta­ti­ons are crea­ted by cle­ver­ly trans­forming pro­saic expres­si­ons. Most peop­le are fami­li­ar with the exhortation:

Don’t just stand the­re, do something.

However, occa­sio­nal­ly inac­tion is pre­fera­ble, and the fol­lowing rear­ran­ged sen­tence has been employed:

Don’t just do some­thing, stand there.

I have seen the­se words attri­bu­t­ed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clint Eastwood, and Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit. Any idea who should be credited?

Quote Investigator: The ear­liest evi­dence loca­ted by QI was prin­ted in the popu­lar syn­di­ca­ted gos­sip column of Leonard Lyons in 1945. The phra­se was used by an actor and pro­du­cer named Martin Gabel: 1 2

At the first rehe­ar­sal of Irwin Shaw’s play, “The Assassin,” Producer Martin Gabel noti­ced a young actress gesti­cu­la­ting wild­ly ins­tead of remai­ning moti­on­less. Gabel shou­t­ed: “Don’t just do some­thing; stand there.”

This quip has been used by many peop­le over the years inclu­ding poli­ti­ci­an Adlai Stevenson and Hollywood star Clint Eastwood.

Here are addi­tio­nal selec­ted cita­ti­ons in chro­no­lo­gi­cal order.

The base­li­ne phra­se “Don’t just stand the­re, do some­thing” emer­ged as a cli­ché many years in the past; hence, it was ripe for comi­c­al muta­ti­on. Here is an ela­bo­ra­te ver­si­on in 1877 of the ent­rea­ty which has now beco­me com­mon­place: 3

Come, don’t stand the­re loo­king like a sta­tue of hel­pless­ness: do some­thing or other, will you.”

Here is a simp­ler ver­si­on of the oft repeated appeal from a book released in 1878: 4

Oh, mam­ma!” cried Susan, with blan­ched cheek, then gas­ped out, “Don’t stand the­re, Jane, do something.”

In 1945, as noted abo­ve, the wide­ly-dis­tri­bu­t­ed news­pa­per column of Leonard Lyons ascri­bed to Martin Gabel the reor­de­red state­ment: “Don’t just do some­thing; stand there”.

In 1951 Walt Disney’s stu­dio released an ani­ma­ted ver­si­on of “Alice in Wonderland”, and it inclu­ded a sce­ne in which the White Rabbit rus­hed from his house and encoun­te­red Alice who was wal­king on his front pathway. The White Rabbit incor­rect­ly addres­sed her as Mary Ann and then spo­ke the amu­sing phra­se. Boldface has been added to excerp­ts: 5

White Rabbit: Why, Mary Ann! What are you doing out here?

Alice: Mary Ann?

White Rabbit: Don’t just do some­thing, stand the­re. No no! Go go! Go get my gloves! I’m late!

In April 1954 a colum­nist in the “Boston Globe” descri­bed a group cal­led the “Relaxation Club of America” which had adop­ted the injunc­tion as a mot­to: 6

There is a natio­nal, non­pro­fit orga­niz­a­ti­on which advo­ca­tes para­phra­sing an irri­ta­ting direc­ti­ve, to wit: “Don’t just stand there….DO some­thing!” The group, which has dedi­ca­ted its­elf to hap­pier living through inertness, would chan­ge it to: “Don’t just do something….STAND the­re!” Relaxation Club of America, it calls itself.

In 1954 the quo­ta­ti­on appeared in a gos­sip column anec­do­te that was simi­lar to one in 1945. An actress was cri­ti­ci­zed; howe­ver, the domain was shifted from thea­ter to tele­vi­si­on: 7

A TV direc­tor had to deal with one of tho­se young actres­ses of the new school the other day. She was flut­te­ring her hands, mus­sing her hair, and in gene­ral try­ing to be as much like Geraldine Page as pos­si­ble. The direc­tor final­ly shou­t­ed, “Don’t just do some­thing. Stand there!”

In February 1956 the U.S. poli­ti­ci­an Adlai Stevenson used the quip to bera­te his oppon­ents: 8

He said he had “figu­red out what the Republican ora­tors mean by what they call mode­ra­te pro­gres­si­vism.” All they mean, he said, is “don’t just do some­thing! Stand there!”

In May 1956 Leonard Lyons fea­tured the quo­ta­ti­on in his column once again. This time Lyons repor­ted on comments made by Adlai Stevenson who ascri­bed the remark to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Stevenson sta­ted that Eisenhower had joco­se­ly chi­ded his Secretary of State with the quip: 9

THE TRAVELER: Adlai Stevenson tells this sto­ry about John Foster Dulles: The President mana­ged to catch a glim­pse of Dulles while he was tem­pora­ri­ly in this coun­try. And the President said to the Secretary of State: “Don’t just do some­thing. Stand there.”

In June 1956 the “Los Angeles Times” repor­ted on “Screwball Signs” which sati­ri­zed inspi­ra­tio­nal signs hung in busi­ness offices. The fol­lowing was inclu­ded: 10


By August 1956 the sup­po­sed remark by made by President Eisenhower direc­ted at his Secretary of State Dulles was being labe­led a legend in the pages of the “New York Times”: 11

Such is the impli­ca­ti­on of a plea­sant legend. Eisenhower sum­mons Dulles to him, say­ing:“Foster, don’t just do some­thing; stand there.”

In January 1957 the pro­mi­nent colum­nist Walter Winchell remar­ked that the say­ing was being ascri­bed to Elvis Presley, but Winchell was skep­ti­cal. The spel­ling “coly­ums” in the fol­lowing excerpt was one of Winchell’s deli­be­ra­te sty­listic quirks: 12 13

The “latest” Elvis Presley quip making many coly­ums is late, inde­ed: “Don’t just do some­thing — stand the­re!” was used to tease actress Geraldine Page a few sea­sons ago.

In June 1957 the barb was reas­si­gned to ano­t­her anony­mous direc­tor and aimed at the famous actress Katharine Hepburn: 14

The movie direc­tor rever­sed a fami­li­ar say­ing by exc­lai­ming to Katharine Hepburn, “Don’t just do something…stand the­re!” That humo­rous remark is the key to Miss Hepburn’s personality…she is a woman of action.

In 1959 a news­pa­per in Oklahoma prin­ted an enter­tai­ning vari­ant of the expres­si­on: 15

Or to put it in simp­ler lan­guage: Don’t just do some­thing. Sit there.
—Tulsa World

In 1985 “Newsweek” maga­zi­ne prin­ted comments made by Clint Eastwood about the desi­ra­bi­li­ty of deem­pha­si­zing tech­ni­que while acting. Eastwood sta­ted that he heard the remark from his dra­ma coach: 16 17

I don’t like showing the tech­ni­que. I don’t like peop­le who say, “Here, I’m going to act, but first I have to boun­ce off this wall.” If you have to boun­ce off the wall, do it by yourself. Don’t fea­ture the tech­ni­que. My old dra­ma coach used to say, “Don’t just do some­thing, stand the­re.” Gary Cooper wasn’t afraid to do nothing.

In con­clu­si­on, Martin Gabel is cur­r­ent­ly the lea­ding can­di­da­te for craf­ter of this quip based on the 1945 cita­ti­on. The joke was repeated by others inclu­ding Adlai Stevenson. Reordering the words in an expres­si­on is a known mecha­nism for con­struc­ting wit­ti­cisms; hence, the quo­ta­ti­on may have been crea­ted inde­pendent­ly on more than one occa­si­on. Nevertheless, some of the anec­do­tes after 1945 appe­ar to be apocryphal.

Research Note: QI’s rese­arch on this topic was con­duc­ted in May 2011 and appeared on the ADS mai­ling list. Barry Popik con­duc­ted excel­lent rese­arch in this area inde­pendent­ly and shared his results in October 2011.

Image Notes: Publicity pos­ter for1951 film of Alice in Wonderland. See ratio­na­le for Fair Use under copy­right law given here. Image of Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image from U.S. National Archives

(Great thanks to Professor Jonathan Lighter who initia­ted a dis­cus­sion about this say­ing on the ADS mai­ling list in May 2011. Thanks to Dan Goncharoff who loca­ted the February 1956 cita­ti­on, and to the other dis­cus­sants. Special thanks to Daniel Gackle who also asked about this expres­si­on. Also thanks to Daryl Sng for men­tio­ning inde­pen­dent reinvention.)

Update History: On February 21, 2015 the 1985 cita­ti­on was updated to inclu­de a lar­ger excerpt and a direct Newsweek citation.


  1. 1945 August 31, Amarillo Daily News, The Lyon’s Den by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 10, Column 3, Amarillo, Texas. (NewspaperArchive)
  2. 1945 September 1, San Mateo Times, Editorial Page, Broadway Medley by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 8, Column 5, San Mateo, California. (NewspaperArchive)
  3. 1877, A Perennial Courtship; and Other Tales by Ephron (pseud­onym), A Perennial Courtship, Start Page 1, Quote Page 4, Charing Cross Publishing Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link
  4. 1878, Aunt Betsy’s Foresight by Mrs. Warren Creed, Page 8, Remington and Co., London. (Google Books Full View) link
  5. 1951, Film: Alice in Wonderland, Animation Studio: Walt Disney Productions, Adapted from Lewis Carroll’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”, Quotation Location: 21 minu­tes into total run­ti­me 1 hour 15 minu­tes. (Verified by viewing film)
  6. 1954 April 30, Boston Globe, Sitting in with Ted Ashby: It’s What the Man Said, Quote Page 21, Column 1, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)
  7. 1954 October 25, El Paso Herald-Post, Females 16 to 60 Aflutter Over Two Future TV Idols by Faye Emerson, Page 7, Column 3, El Paso, Texas. (NewspaperArchive)
  8. 1956 February 26, New York Times, “Stevenson Gibes at the President as Inept ‘Coach’” by Richard H. Parke, Start Page 1, Quote Page 65, New York. (ProQuest)
  9. 1956 May 21, Chicago Defender, Lyons Den by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 5, Column 4, Chicago, Illinois. (ProQuest)
  10. 1956 June 24, Los Angeles Times, “Screwball Signs: The old-fashio­ned ‘pep’ signs are com­ing in for some kid­ding in today’s offices” by Charles D. Rice, Quote Page 15, Los Angeles, California. (ProQuest)
  11. 1956 August 29, New York Times, Foreign Affairs: New Role for the Secretary of State by C.L. Sulzberger, Quote Page 27, New York. (ProQuest)
  12. 1957 January 22, Springfield Union, Walter Winchell On Broadway, Quote Page 18, Column 2, Springfield, Massachusetts. (Typo “Geralding” has been repla­ced with “Geraldine” in the excerpt)(GenealogyBank)
  13. 1957 January 23, Boston Daily Record, Walter Winchell On Broadway: More Red than Rosy, Quote Page 27, Column 3, Boston, Massachusetts. (GenealogyBank)
  14. 1957 June 30, Washington Post, Keep in Trim: Thin Girls Can Copy Katie by Ida Jean Kain, Quote Page F15, Washington, D.C. (ProQuest)
  15. 1959 July 31, Ada Evening News, Column of Comment, Quote Page 4, Column 2, Ada, Oklahoma.(NewspaperArchive)
  16. 1985 July 22, Newsweek, Movies: ‘Rebel in My Soul’, (Gerald Lubenow, San Francisco Bureau Chief of Newsweek recor­ded the words of Clint Eastwood), Start Page 54, Quote Page 54, Column 1, Newsweek, Inc., New York. (Verified on micro­film)
  17. 2006, Brewer’s Famous Quotations, Edited by Nigel Rees, Section: George Shultz, Page 430 and 431, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. (Verified on paper)(According to this refe­rence the Clint Eastwood quo­ta­ti­on appeared in the Newsweek issue of September 23, 1985; howe­ver, this date may be for the U.K edi­ti­on; the date of the U.S. edi­ti­on con­tai­ning the quo­ta­ti­on was July 22, 1985; see the sepa­ra­te cita­ti­on)

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