More Rim Shots From the Mossadegh Era (1950’s)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | January 21, 2021                         

In our continuing quest to become the #1 comedy web site on the internet, here’s an assortment of gags and jabs during the oil nationalization movement in Iran. Yuk it up!

May 2, 1951

Something new happened in Iran, where they struck oil by act of Parliament.

[Oil was nationalized on April 28, 1951.]

The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)

May 7, 1951

The Shah of Iran has authorized the nationalization of oil and the British, who have large interests there, think the idea is pretty crude.

The Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois)

May 14, 1951

“The new premier of Iran has a habit of breaking into tears.” Overcome with poignant sorrow for the taxpayer, perhaps. Uncle Louis will doubtless note, and heave a heartfelt sigh.

[Refers to U.S. technical aid to Iran via Point Four.]

Once Over Lightly by T.D.F. (columnist Thomas D’Arcy Finn)

May 15, 1951

The bones of “three pinheaded men” who lived 75,000 years ago have been dug up in Iran. So there were “pinheads” back in those days too!

[Not necessarily a “dig” on Iranians, but maybe.]

Once Over Lightly by T.D.F. (columnist Thomas D’Arcy Finn)

May 22, 1951

Little Iran is making loud and belligerent noises at Britain and US. Could it be the vodka talking?

[Innuendo apparently implying oil nationalization was Soviet-backed or inspired, though Iran also had its own vodka industry.]

The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida)

May 25, 1951

Oil and politics long have had affinity for each other. Something new in Iran is the mixing of oil and religion. Demonstrating Iranians threaten a “holy war” if necessary to nationalize the country’s oil industry.

The Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon)

May 28, 1951

NOT all Persians believe in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

When General Razmara, murdered predecessor of the present Premier, was asked what he thought of oil nationalisation he replied: “We couldn’t run even a cement factory by ourselves.”

[Ali Razmara opposed nationalization, but of course he didn’t say that]

Column 8 by “Granny”, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

June 11, 1951

They say this Mohammed Mossadegh, Iranian prime minister, is a whirling dervish. That training ought to fit him to deal with oil and international politics.

Iffy the Dopester, The Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan)

June 26, 1951

Iran now has a big oil plant, all right, and the Iranians are as well equipped to run it as the Eskimoes are to handle atomic energy.

[A major British and American talking point.]

The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)

July 1951

Our ambassador to Iran, Henry F. Grady, would like to be relieved of his duties just as soon as possible. Perhaps he feels that entirely too much oil has been poured on the troubled water.

[Grady resigned that September, at odds with his own government’s handling of the crisis.]

The Kansas City Times (Kansas City, Missouri)

July 9, 1951

Iran has proposed a stop-gap plan in the oil dispute, but more successful, perhaps, would be a stop-gabbing plan.

The Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois) on July 9th and The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Illinois) on July 16th

July 13-14, 1951

The grammarian who also reads the headlines wants to know whether Irate is the past tense of Iran.

The Old Paragrapher column as published in The Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois) and The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Illinois)

October 1, 1951

The Iranian press blasts the United States as the villain in its oil row. You stop to watch a fight, and look what happens.

The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Illinois)

October 10, 1951

New York

Dear Mohammed: YOUR oil is one of the most slippery subjects the UN has had to juggle.

Intercepted Letters, The Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan)

October 19, 1951

In this country a man with such prolific tear ducts as Premier Mossadegh almost inevitably would have become a great football coach.

The Globe-Gazette (Mason City, Iowa)

October 22, 1951

LAST MONTH THE IRANIANS drove the British out of Persia and now the Egyptians want to follow suit. It’s getting so that the sun can’t find a British Empire to set on.

.      .      .      .     .     .

WHEN PREMIER MOSSADEGH isn’t presenting Iran’s case in the UN, he spends his time in a New York hospital. His British acquaintances will be feebly cheered to learn that in both places he is doing as well as can be expected.

[While Mossadegh was in America]

Once Over Lightly by Robert Bendiner

October 24, 1951


Had a bit of cat and dog trouble a few weeks ago. Both the family pets “went west” in the one week. Now I believe we are to have the company of a Persian Kitten. An immediate name has been chosen. It is “Mossadeq”—the Persian gent who is causing the British so much bother. Don’t you think that “Mossy” sounds “oil” right.

[The phrase “went west” here means either the pets ran away or died.]

The Kiama Independent (New South Wales, Australia)

November 15, 1951

Having fanned out here, Iranian Premier Mossadegh is off for Egypt where he may sign with the Arab League.

Views on the News, The Pittsburgh Press (Pennsylvania)

December 3, 1951

Oil may be expected to pour more trouble on Mossadegh.

The Buffalo Courier-Express (Buffalo, New York)

January 5, 1952

Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh has been called the George Washington of Iran. In his boyhood, Mohammed may have chopped down a fig tree or maybe a eucalyptus.

[Refers to a line from the “Man of the Year” cover story on Mossadegh released that week.]

The Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois) and The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Illinois)

February 11, 1952

Doc Mossadegh has nothing to prescribe for the ills of Iran.

The Buffalo Courier-Express (Buffalo, New York)

April 26, 1952


“What makes Iran’s Premier Mohammed Mossadegh weep and faint in public?” asks Dr. C. H.

The American doctors who recently examined him in a New York hospital found nothing wrong except abnormally low blood pressure.

Some attribute, therefore, his tears and fainting to an almost insane hatred that gets the better of him every time he thinks about the British. Others believe that he is deliberately “hamming” in order to impress his extremely excitable compatriots. It is a fact that he did not weep or faint in public while in this country.

Edgar Ansel Mowrer (General Features Corp.) syndicated column

September 1952

Bait for Mossadegh

Truman failed to win Mossadegh with $10,000,000, but might tempt him with a few deep freezers.

From the Philadelphia Bulletin, referencing the influence-peddling scandals surrounding Gen. Harry Vaughan, a senior Truman aide and buddy.

September 13, 1952


IT has been said that much good value has been lost to the industrial and commercial world by the devaluation of a man’s work because he is a bit over the usual employment age. Well, how about 75-year-old Hjalmar Schacht, who was Hitler’s financial genius. How much of a hand he had in making a mess of Hitler I couldn’t say, but he has served his term as a war criminal and is going to Persia to help Mossadeq square accounts with Persia and the rest of the world. Some people wouldn’t employ Schacht, but Mossadeq is looking for a magician.

From a column in The Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania, Australia)

October 12, 1952

NO oil settlement in Persia yet, but Mossadegh says he’s in the best of spirits. Trouble with the best of spirits is that not a drop gets sold till it’s seven years old...

The Sunday Mirror (London, England)

August 15, 1953


PERSIAN police have arrested several people in Teheran alleged to have forged more than 1,000 false passports for Moslems wishing to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

They said the passports, which cost 10,000 rials (£42), were perfect except for the letters “P” and “R” in “passport.”

“Odd Spots From the News” column in The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (New South Wales, Australia)

August 19, 1953


Dear Mossy: NOW that you’ve got rid of the Shah and the Parliament, what’s left to divert public attention from those idle oil wells you seized from the British?

Intercepted Letters, The Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan)

August 19, 1953

Rimes and Remnants

“Phaw!” said the Shah,
“Things look quite blue,”
Jumped in his plane
And flew the coup.

The Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois)

August 30, 1953

“We need Texas to win the next world war just as much as England. Mark my words, if the British succeed in doing us out of Texas, it will be only a matter of time until we wake up some morning and find that Brooklyn also is missing. It’s a shame, but a nation has to keep everything nailed down these days.

England may get back the Anglo-Arabian Oil Co. and maybe not. [sic—Anglo-Iranian Oil Company] But in case the Shah doesn’t do so good with the Nationalists in Iran, Texas would be an ace in the hole, and the hole brimful of that lovely black gold known poetically as oil.”

Syndicated columnist Inez Robb (INS)

August 31, 1953

Mossadegh is in jail. The big problem was to get pajamas with black and white stripes.

Once Over by syndicated columnist H. I. Phillips

September 8, 1953

In the realm of world politics there is a very short distance between a political hero and a bum. Old man Mossadegh just a few days ago was one of the big wheels of the diplomatic world. Today he is just a bum in one of the Shah’s jail cells. Of course, by the same token, if his political fortunes should reverse and he should bingo he would change from a bum to a bigwig again.

High-Lights In the Headlines by J. Oliver Emmerich, a front-page column in The McComb Enterprise Journal (Mississippi). John Oliver Emmerich (1896-1978) also owned the paper.

November 11, 1953

It’s nice to think that Mossadeq
Is getting it right in the peg.

From the column DAY by DAY by Arthur Richards in The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia)

November 12, 1953

Deposed Premier

Dear Mossy:

FROM pictures and news accounts of your court-martial, it’s hard to tell whether you’re on trial for treason or having a physical checkup.

Intercepted Letters, The Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan)

November 13, 1953

Ex-Premier Mossadegh of Iran, the fiery gent who caused Britain and the U.S. so much misery and annoyance over oil matters, now on trial for defying the Shah and trying to overthrow the monarch, declared from the witness stand he would commit suicide if released and if convicted and sentenced to death will not appeal. The old boy seems to have bugs in his bonnet. In view of all the turmoil the belligerent old trouble-maker has created, the court might try turning him loose to see whether he would make good his word.

The Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

August 6, 1956

Premier Mossadegh has come forth from the Iranian prison after three years, still weeping, and saying, “It is not the same Teheran, Iran.”

[What passed for humor those days.]

SPOTLIGHT by H. M. Ivey, The Ukiah Daily Journal (Ukiah, California)

August 7, 1956

After three years in jail, Iran’s Mossadegh has come to realize that oil and teardrops don’t mix.


Edmund J. Kiefer in The Buffalo Courier-Express (Buffalo, New York)

Filling in the Gaps: How Newspaper Layouts Squeezed Every Last Inch
Filling in the Gaps: How Newspaper Layouts Squeezed Every Last Inch


Related links:

One Man’s Opinion: Radio/TV Personality Walter Kiernan on Iran

No Tears For Tearful Mossadeq | The Weekly Times, Sept. 2, 1953

Richard Murray’s Greatest Iran Quips | Sunday Times (Perth, Australia) column, 1951-54

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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