The Proust Questionnaire was popularised by French writer Marcel Proust in the late nineteenth century, and eventually published in 1924. It has been used by Vanity Fair magazine since 1993, as a format for its interviews. The following are some of the more entertaining answers from interviewees.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Moses, who proved that it’s all about who you know. (David Steinberg, comedian)

What is your greatest fear?
– Converting kilometres to miles. (David Bowie)
– My lips are sealed. (Aretha Franklin)

What is your greatest extravagance?
– Thrift. (Fran Lebowitz)
– I’m a major shoe queen. (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

What is your favourite journey?
– Home, to my best girl, after winning World War II. (Conan O’Brien)
– That weekend I gave Buddhism a shot. (Martin Short, comedian)
– Italy through to North Africa. (Martin Scorsese)

What is your favourite occupation?
Watching a Billy Wilder movie while eating Belgian chocolates. (Joan Collins)

What is your greatest regret?
– Not having one. (Keith Richards)
– Most of my marriages. (Doris Day)

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Loyalty to his craft. (Arthur Miller)

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
I’m strongly urged by advisers not to say, “moral laxity”, so let’s say “sense of humour”. (Walter Cronkite)

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
– Being No. 19 on Nixon’s enemies list. (Paul Newman)
– Going to church and belonging to a faith. (James Brown)

When and where were you happiest?
Between marriages. (Hedy Lamarr; married and divorced six times, and had three children).

What is your favourite occupation?
The correction of other people’s errors. (William F. Buckley)

What is your most treasured possession?
English. (Fran Lebowitz)

What do you regard as the lowest form of misery?
– French. (Fran Lebowitz)
– A mirror. (Gore Vidal)
– Losing a child. (Barbara Walters, journalist)
– Sports. (John Waters, filmmaker)

What do you most value in your friends?
Their ability to pay their debts. (Walter Matthau)

Who are your favourite writers?
– Nineteenth-century Russians. (Dustin Hoffman)
– I’ll only mention the dead. Every live author you do not mention will never forgive you. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Stendhal, Melville, Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Proust, Zola, Mann, Goethe, Shakespeare. (Norman Mailer)

Who are your heroes in real life?
– My heroes in real life are firemen. (David Mamet)
– Teachers, who are underpaid but devote their lives to making sure our kids get a good education. It’s the best defence against gangs, violence, and drug use by kids – and the best chance to ensure their future. (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

What are your favourite names?
Fortescu Dalrymple, Tinky Pringle, and Sympathetic Hah. (George Carlin, comedian)

How would you like to die?
With my boots on. (Dennis Hopper)

What is your motto?
– “Never wear boots.” (Dennis Hopper)
– Kiss ‘em, slap ‘em, send ‘em home. (Sandra Bernhard)
– It’s better to be interested than interesting. (Jane Fonda)
– “The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” – Oscar Wilde. (Dustin Hoffman)
– “When blue, wear red.” (Maureen Dowd, columnist)

(Source: Vanity Fair)

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