James Gordon Bennett

James Gordon Bennett

Instead of swearing, some people say “Gordon Bennett.” But why? Did he exist and, if so, who was he?

James Gordon Bennett (1841–1918) was an American newspaper proprietor who was so wealthy and enjoyed such a lavish lifestyle that his name became an exclamation. That is the nub of the answer, although it doesn’t explain why his name has become synonymous with an alternative with swearing.

So we need to do a bit more digging to discover :

In his lifetime, he spent a total of $40 million. (a phenomenal amount for over 100 years ago)
His after-tax annual income was in excess of one million dollars.
He once tipped a train porter $14,000.
In 1877, he got drunk at a party at his fiancée’s house and mistook the fireplace for a toilet (like you do).
His fiancée’s brother challenged him to a duel (neither man was hurt), but he fled to Paris.
In Paris, his favorite hobby was smashing up restaurants (and he wasn’t even a rock star)—although he always paid for the damage.
He once burned a wad of thousands of francs because all the notes in his pocket were causing him discomfort.
He built a yacht—the Lysistrata—which boasted, among other conveniences, a padded room for holding an Alderney cow to provide fresh milk.
He once went to a restaurant in Monte Carlo and found that it was full. So he bought the restaurant and instructed the head- waiter that he was always to reserve a table for him.
He was the man who sent H. M. Stanley to find Dr. Livingstone (as in “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”) in Africa.

All together now : “Gordon Bennett!”