When your first ghost walks
Posted: 02 February 2011 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2313
Joined  2007-01-30

From a serialization on the Vitaphone Varieties blog. (The studios in the late 20s would release serializations to the film mags based on the latest movie they were pushing. This one is in connection with the 1929 WB musical, Show of Shows - scroll down the blog page for background.)

(Leo has come to Hollywood desperate to get work in movies.  His friend Harry promises to get him a job, even a small acting role, although Leo’s no actor, and arranges a place for him to stay.)

On the sidewalk again, Harry prepared to take leave of his friend to keep an appointment. Eliciting from Leo the tidings that the latter had no place to sleep, and no baggage, he gives him a key to his bungalow, mentioning an address on Gower Street, just off Hollywood Boulevard.

“Move in until your first ghost walks”, he invited.

This has the air of an established usage and Google Book Search throws up an interesting parallel from Berlin Alexanderplatz.

The higher-ups oughta know we’re on the job all right, and then maybe one of those chaps wants to get an increase in salary, his wife needs a fur coat, and that’s why they nab people and pick out a Friday, when the ghost walks.

The phrase seems to mean then ‘when you get your paycheck’. I can’t find anything in OED; has anyone alse seen this usage?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 February 2011 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2817
Joined  2007-01-31

The final comment here describes it as theatrical slang for payday and says “It may have come from the possibility that the actor portraying the Ghost of Hamlet’s father could also be assigned to payroll duties during the long long stretch between appearances in Act I, Sc. 4 and Act III, Sc. 5. More likely, say Partridge and others, it’s a mid-19th C. theatricalism.”

Thus implying it’s covered in one of Partridges works on slang.

See also this googlebook result from Ferguson’s Dictionary of Catch Phrases
http://books.google.com/books?id=5eiCbrmVx6QC&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq="ghost+walks"+payday+theatrical&source=bl&ots=Fa81zb6DOr&sig=ga7EqQYa-Dgi1sHm9_sgIRFQ7p0&hl=en&ei=oMpJTcvLFI72gAeQ8KH7Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false

[ Edited: 02 February 2011 01:22 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 February 2011 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2313
Joined  2007-01-30

Fascinating, I wonder if it still has currency in acting circles. The speculation that the Ghost was perhaps played by the business manager sounds a far stretch, although I suppose one could add that Hamlet’s Ghost was one of the parts that tradition had Shakespeare himself playing and he could well be said, along with the other Globe shareholders, to be the business manager of the theatre. (Old Adam, the retainer in As You Like It, was another role said to have been played by Shakespeare. The tradition goes back to Thomas Betterton, a Restoration actor who claimed to have heard it from old players who had known and worked with Shakespeare.)

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Whiffenpoofs      HD: Archispeak ››