A Playful Quote About Ginger Rogers Dances Its Way Back to the DNC

Texas Governor Ann Richards delivered it better.

There it is, this Thursday, crowning the official Ginger Rogers Facebook page: the quote “Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards… and in high heels!” But the posting date is June 27, 2013, and the man credited with the observation is Bob Thaves.

Thaves first dropped this great line into a Frank and Earnest comic strip in 1982. The remark was channeled six years later, in 1988, by Texas Governor Ann Richards at that summer’s DNC. (Richards, by the way, like last night’s featured speaker Tim Kaine, also sprinkled some Spanish into her remarks.)

The genealogy of the Rogers line doesn’t make it any less great in the context of President Obama’s wonderful speech last night. In fact, given that POTUS #44 is handing off to his former Cabinet partner and potential POTUS #45, it stands as a perfect reference.

But getting back to Richards’ fantastic, earlier speech. After noting at the top that “after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like,” she got to the Rogers line. She used the observation in in reference to herself and previous DNC female keynote speaker Barbara Jordan. “Two women in 160 years is about par for the course. But if you give a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire. She just did it backwards and in high heels!”

One intriguing difference between TV coverage of the 1988 DNC and today’s wall-to-wall cable news coverage is that live, close-up, multi-camera audience reaction shots were not as plentiful back then. So there does not appear to be any 1988 archive equivalent to this great reaction to Obama’s Ginger line from last night, by actress Debra Messing.

Poster courtesy: Warner Home Video