Fact Check

Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky!

Neil Armstrong supposedly offered a cryptic remark to a 'Mr. Gorsky' during the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Published Sept. 16, 1998

Neil Armstrong cryptically uttered "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" as he first stepped onto the moon

This item about the first manned moon landing, seemingly an obvious joke, began circulating on the Internet in mid-1995 and was picked up by the news media a few months later:

When Apollo Mission Astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind" statement, but followed it by several remarks, including the usual COM traffic between him, the other astronauts, and Mission Control. Before he re-entered the lander, he made the enigmatic remark "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, [they found] there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs.

Over the years, many people have questioned him as to what the "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" statement meant. On July 5, in Tampa Bay, FL, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26- year-old question to Armstrong. He finally responded. It seems that Mr. Gorsky had died and so Armstrong felt he could answer the question. When he was a kid, Neil was playing baseball with his brother in the backyard. His brother hit a fly ball which landed in front of his neighbors' bedroom window. The neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, he heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, "Oral sex? Oral sex you want? You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!"

The inclusion of specific details (e.g., the name of Armstrong's neighbor, the date of the press conference on which he revealed the meaning of his remark) apparently led some to believe the farcical story might have some truth to it.

At its most basic level, this tale is a humorous anecdote that plays on the stereotypical portrayal of Jewish wives as reluctant to engage in recreational (and especially oral) sex. In variant forms of this legend the last name of Neil Armstrong's neighbor is different, but the surname used is always a "Jewish-sounding" one, such as Gorsky, Seligman, Schultz, Lipinski, or Klein; the unusual word order employed by the wife in her refusal ("Oral sex you want?") is also a stereotypical speech pattern attributed to Jews. On another level, this legend can be seen as an attempt to humanize a cultural hero by associating him with a story that is both humorous and racy: Neil Armstrong, the world-famous astronaut, is made to seem like a "regular" guy.

Any doubts about the veracity of this legend are laid to rest by the NASA transcripts of the Apollo 11 mission, which record no such statement having been made by Armstrong. Armstrong himself said in late 1995 that he first heard the anecdote delivered as a joke by comedian Buddy Hackett in California.

Sightings:   When the space shuttle Columbia crew completed a repair mission on the Hubble Space Telescope in March 2002, chief repairman John Grunsfeld called out (in homage to this legend) "Good luck, Mr. Hubble" as the telescope drifted off.

Variations:   Sometimes the story is told with Armstrong uttering, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for Manny Klein," with the unfortunate Mr. Klein having received the same response from his wife as Mr. Gorsky had from his.


Pollock, Robert.   Good Luck Mr. Gorsky: Exploring Urban Myths.     New Zealand: Reed Books, 1999.   ISBN 0-7900-0686-3   (p. 149).

Quint, Barbara.   "Another 'Mr. Gorsky' Story."     Searcher.   April 1996   (p. 37).

Thompson, Tracy.   "World Wide Web: The Craziest Rumors Fall Through the Net."     The Washington Post.   21 February 21 1996   (p. B1).

Walker, Whitney.   "Tales from the Cyber Side."     [New York] Daily News.   14 July 1996   (p. 3).

Wheen, Francis.   "Wanting the Moon."     The Guardian.   15 November 1995   (p. T5).

Associated Press.   "Work on Hubble Scope Called Success."     Los Angeles Times.   10 March 2002.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.