May 23, 2019

“Live fast, die young…”


“Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse!” 
        A saying popularized by the 1949 noir film Knock on Any Door, adapted from Willard Motley’s 1947 novel of the same name
        Sometimes cited as “Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse,” this saying is often associated with actor James Dean, whose wild lifestyle and death in a car crash at age 24 fit seemed to epitomize the first four words. Dean didn’t say the line in any of his own movies. But he was a fan of Knock on Any Door and Dean’s friend John Gilmore said Dean quoted it to him in conversations.
        In the movie adaptation, the line “Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse!” is said by actor John Derek. He plays the character Nick Romano, a young Italian hoodlum from the Chicago slums accused of killing a cop. The movie line comes directly from the novel. In the book, Nick says it several times and cites it as his motto.
        Though the novel and film helped popularize the saying, it was already in use when Motley wrote Knock on Any Door. Garson O’Toole, author of book Hemingway Didn’t Say That and the website, has found precursors dating back to the 1800s.
        For more background on this famous quotation, see the post on my site at this link.


“I wanna live fast, love hard, die young
And leave a beautiful memory.”

        Faron Young (1925-1966)
        American country music performer
        The refrain from his popular 1955 song “Live Fast, Love Hard, and Die Young,” written by Joe Allison
        Young committed suicide in 1996 at age 64. Live Fast, Love Hard was used as the title of a biographical book about him published in 2012.


“Live fast, die old.”
        Slogan associated with Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, frontman of the British heavy metal band Motörhead
        This phrase, which was used as the title of a 2005 documentary about the band, seemed to sum up Lemmy’s personal philosophy and was quoted in obituaries and comments about him when he died in 2015 at the age of 70.


“Live Fast Die Hot”
        Jenny Mollen
        American magazine writer, columnist for Playboy Online, book author and actress
        Title of a 2016 book collecting some of Mollen’s humorous articles


“Live Fast Die Pretty”
        Slogan on a women’s tank top sold by


“Live fast, die young, and leave a fat, bloated, ugly corpse.”
        A quip by Tom Servo during the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the so-bad-it’s-good biker movie Wild Rebels (1967), when the fat, ugly, biker character named “Fats” is shot


“You know that old thing, live fast, die young? Not my way. Live fast, sure, live too bloody fast sometimes, but die young? Die old. That’s the way. Not orthodox. I don’t live by ‘the rules’ you know.”
        UK actor/comedian/director Ricky Gervais, as the pompous character David Brent
        In the “Party” episode of the TV series The Office (Season 2, Episode 3, first aired in the UK in 2002).

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