James Thurber


James Thurber with his dog


When The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Danny Kaye, became a hit movie, Sam Goldwyn decided that he wanted to add Thurber to his team of writers. He offered Thurber $500 a week but Thurber was very happy to continue working for Harold Ross at The New Yorker. After a decent interval Thurber wrote back to Goldwyn, declining the offer by saying “Mr. Ross has met the increase.” Goldwyn wrote back, raising the offer to $1,000 a week, then $1,500, and finally $2,000. Each time, Thurber responded that Mr. Ross had met the increase. Goldwyn lost interest but awhile later wrote again, this time offering only $1,500. Thurber replied: “I am sorry, but Mr. Ross has met the decrease.”

Biographical Note: 

James Thurber was a U.S. cartoonist, short-story writer, and humorist. He contributed to The New Yorker for many years and wrote such short stories as “The Catbird Seat” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” One of his children's books, The Thirteen Clocks (1950), was very popular. He also coauthored (with Elliot Nugent) a witty Broadway play, The Male Animal (1940). Perhaps his finest book is the autobiographical My life and Hard Times (1933). Thurber portrayed in words and illustrations the confusion and frustration of modern life. See the Paw Prints Quotes and Factoids Archives for some of his dog cartoons.