March 31, 2011 3:39 PM   Subscribe

I remember a supposedly true story about someone moderately famous that went something like this: One day, on a whim, he sent a one-word telegram "Congratulations!" to four or five of his friends, chosen randomly. Of them, only one replied asking why he had sent it; the remaining friends had all accomplished something moderately significant in their lives recently and assumed that was what it was about. Do I have this story right? Who was it about? Is it apocryphal?
posted by Johnny Assay to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I heard the story that the telegram said 'Flee, all is discovered', and that four of the five (not sure abouut the numbers) fled. Oscar Wilde?
posted by GeeEmm at 3:53 PM on March 31, 2011

"Flee - All is discovered": a telegraph message attributed to both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and elsewhere to Mark Twain.

Here's the message board on discussing this topic.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:06 PM on March 31, 2011

This might be so vague it's useless, but: I suspect you're conflating the old "Flee - All is discovered" story with a more recent quote. A celebrity (can't remember who, but maybe a comedian--maybe Seth Rogan?) was talking about how to schmooze with famous people and said that his strategy when he didn't know what else to talk about was to say, "Congratulations!" and the famous person would assume he was talking about whatever their most recent accomplishment was.
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:25 PM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I remember a similar story in which a man in France sent out thousands of blackmail letters saying just "we know your secret, pay us X amount of money or we'll tell" and became a millionaire.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:23 PM on March 31, 2011

The "all is discovered" version has also been attributed to Noel Coward.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:46 AM on April 5, 2011

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