What is the origin of the phrase, "up close and personal"?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Identifying the specific origin of a phrase is often impossible, though something can always be said about its history. But in this case we can do better. The phrase was popularized in connection with the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Difficulty of finding early uses in print
Search tools are unreliable. Google Book Search says the phrase was current as early as 1961, as evidenced by this excerpt from a crime novel:
However, Google Book Search is wrong; the book was published in 1995. There are various other GBS dead ends.
Connection to 1972 Olympic games
But there is an interesting true development in 1972. Sports-film producer Michael Samuelson writes:
And then Jim McKay, famous host of Wide World of Sports for ABC who covered twelve Olympic Games for ABC and introduced the phrase “the thrill of victory – and the agony of defeat” into popular memory, writes in 1973:
It was around this time that the phrase “up close and personal” began its rise to popularity. (See: Google Ngram Viewer chart.)
Popularization by ABC Sports
It turns out that Jim McKay did a series of ABC television segments consisting of interviews of 1972 Olympic athletes, and these segments were called “Up Close and Personal”. (For details start with: Google Search, [
The phrase is not original to Jim McKay, but he popularized it and it remained associated with him in the public mind for the rest of his life.
The name of the segment was apparently chosen by Don Foley at ABC, who later said:
Foley did not say where he got the phrase; neither did he say specifically that he invented it. But he is as close to an origin as we are likely to come.
"Up close and personal" came from a segment on ABC Sports where they would show an Olympic athlete in their everyday surroundings or whilst training for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich.
ABC sports and news broadcasting pioneer Roone Arledge came up with the concept and is sometimes credited with the term as well, but a 1984 article says ABC promotion executive Don Foley thought it up:
The earliest example I found is from August 1972, via Barry Popik:
Ted Koppel, anchor and managing editor of ABC News’s Nightline, wrote:
However, a 1984 Sports Illustrated article says Arledge came up with the concept, but an ABC promotion executive, Don Foley, came up with the term: