Handy Nervous Breakdown Avoider

Irving Hoffman was a busy man in the 1950s and as a Broadway publicist, columnist for the Hollywood Reporter and cartoonist, he reportedly wrote and received hundreds of letters each week to and from all manner of people. However, he only had so much time. For those occasions when a personally written reply just wasn’t possible, Hoffman instead responded with one of these delightful “Handy Nervous Breakdown Avoider and Mail Answering Forms.” As form letters go, it’s one of the greatest.

Transcript follows. Image kindly supplied by the lovely folks at the Harry Ransom Center, who just recently wrote a lovely article about the illustrated letters in their collections that’s well worth a look.



No [ ] Yes [ ] Maybe [ ]

Congratulations [ ] You deserve a medal [ ]

Get well soon [ ]

Very funny [ ] Heh Heh [ ] Tch Tch [ ]

Thanks a million [ ] I appreciate you ever so much [ ]

You’re welcome [ ] Please return the enclosed [ ]

You’re a sweetheart

Don’t call me—I’ll call you Call me [ ]

Let’s both forget it [ ]

Hi from iH [ ]

I’ll meet you under the clock at Grand Central Station [ ]

Let’s meet in the lobby of the Astor Hotel, Hong Kong [ ]

Having a fine time wish you were here [ ]

It’s really regrettable that you’re going to pay a visit to your town for only 1 week. Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman just happened to have an out-of-town engagement during that particular week. (Sec’y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman is out of town. (Sec’y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman is out of the country. (Sec’y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman can be reached at……………………. (Sec’y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman is out of this world. (Sec’y to Mr. Hoffman)

This is Top Secret Security Information!

Loved your letter [ ] Did you see this? [ ]

Bon Voyage [ ]

More material coming later [ ]

Sorry, the only Kennedy I know is a bartender on 52nd Street [ ]

Where’s Sam Shaw? I’ve been hunting for him for months. If you run into him, tell him to contact me [ ]

Happy Holidays [ ]

I thought your book started out slow but it picked up tremendously on the last page [ ]

Keep in touch [ ] I’d rather not [ ]

All goes well…well that’s all [ ]

You’re an ass [ ]

You’re an ace [ ]

I got a kick out of this one [ ]

No hurry on this…we can foul it up later [ ]

Some nut wrote me an idiotic letter and signed your name [ ]

I was out when you called—just blind luck [ ]

Mr. Hoffman has been declared a mental incompetent. Your communication has been forwarded to his attorney [ ]

Mr. Hoffman has now retired from public life and is tending entirely to his private pursuits. To handle your problem you should get in touch with:

President Kennedy [ ] Dear Abby [ ]
George Solotaire [ ] J. Edgar Hoover [ ]

Madi$on Per$onal Loan [ ]

My Uncle Max Reibeisen takes care of all my insurance [ ]

What are you trying to say? [ ]

Out to lunch [ ] Lunch is out [ ]

English translation—Ken Cole is my friend and representative in Tokyo—not yours. Please do not bother him for hotel, restaurant, plane, train or travel reservations in Tokyo or for anything else during your stay in Japan. In plain English—go get your own Geisha!

You have paid me the highest compliment a woman ever paid a man—but I am not worthy of your love [ ]

Please enclose blood specimens with subpoenas in all paternity suits [ ]