Honesty, Faking And Misquotations: George Burns Or Celeste Holm

Today I am going to talk about honesty, faking and misquotations. Read the three quotations below:

“The most important thing is honesty. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

“The secret of success is sincerity. Fake that and you’re in.”

“Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Honestly, we are still in the dark as who is the authentic person who coined the original quote, as expressed in three different versions above.

Could it be Celeste Holm, George Burns or Ed Nelson (as Dr. Michael Rossi in Peyton Place)?

What I found in most well-established quotation sites and also books, they all attributed this quotation to the late American comedian, actor, singer and writer George Burns!

Honesty, Faking And Misquotations

George Burn Misquotations

In fact, the sources of the many so-called George Burn quotes are questionable.

Wikiquote site has a whole page dedicated to these unsourced quotations.

What I learned from Garson O’Toole aka Quote Investigator (Q.I), the origin source of this quote could be from an anonymous theater actor.

Personally I went all out to find the sources from the Internet and link them to share with my fellow readers.

From my own deduction, this popular line could NOT be by George Burns, as published in many established quotation websites, including Brainy Quotes, GoodRead, etc.

Honesty, Faking And Misquotations

Celeste Holm – 1962

It was a remark made by American stage, film and television actress Celeste Holm, as published in Laurence Journal-World in the column called “The Lyons Den” by Leonard Lyons.

It is on page 4 and published on Friday, April 6, 1962.

The line is this:

Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. invited a panel of Performers — including Celeste Holm and Shelley Berman — to discuss the trends In show business. Miss Holm spoke of the vogues in acting, and said she heard one actor say ‘Honesty. That’s the thing in the theater today. Honesty… and just as soon as I can learn to fake that, I’ll have it made.”


Here is the link to

Ed Nelson (played as Dr. the character Dr. Michael Rossi on the TV soap opera Peyton Place) – 1969

It was a write-up published in Life Magazine (25 April 1969).

The line is this:

… Ed Nelson (Dr. Rossi) summed up what he had learned in his five years on the show. “I’ve found that the most important thing for an actor is honesty,” he said. “And when you learn how to fake that, you’re in.”


Here is the link to the April 1969 issue of , where you can see the above quote.

George Burns – 1980

According to Q.I, the octogenarian comedian George Burns mentioned a similar line in his memoir titled, “The Third time Around“.

Honesty, Faking And MisquotationsWhile, I managed to seek out the actual quote from his other book “The Most of George Burn” published on 1991. It is on page 469.

The line is this:

And remember this for the rest of your life: To be a fine actor, when you’re playing a role you’ve got to be honest. And if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.


Here is the link to the page of “The Most of George Burns“, where you can see the actual above quote.

Furthermore, there are other claims, including the French novelist and playwright Jean Giraudoux in the humorous work “Murphy’s Law Book Two”, Hollywood film mogul Samuel Goldwyn, comedian Marx Groucho and even the talk show host Joe Franklin.

In conclusion, this quote could be by an unknown actor or by the Academy-awarded actress Celeste Holm.