Question: I often hear men say, "It's a piece of cake" when they've been asked to do something that they think will be easy. Where did the ex pression come from? I am a female, and I've never found cake making easy. -- J.E., Boston

Answer: "A piece of cake" is a term used to describe something that will be easy to do or a cinch to make. I don't think the phrase is making reference to the baking process, but the good feeling you have sitting back and enjoying a nice big slice of the fresh-baked goodie. Add to that a cloudless summer day with a cool breeze, and you have a slice of heaven.

The earliest mention of the phrase is from Ogden Nash's "Primrose Path" (1936).

As for my personal observation, I have built one porch and several decks on my home, all of which are in great shape. I have also attempted to bake several cakes and several pies, none of which were suitable for consumption by either human or animal.

Q: Where did the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished" origi nate?

A: The cynical phrase is generally credited to Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987), an accomplished journalist, editor, playwright, politician and diplomat. She was well known for her witty prose.

Several other celebrated personalities have been credited with its origin, including Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) and Andrew W. Mellon (1855-1937).


Q: W.C. Fields had a wife who was killed in a barroom fight. I think she was also the mother of his son. Who was she? -- B.K.W., Gallup, N.M.

A: W.C. Fields married Harriet "Hattie" Hughes, a fellow vaudevillian, in 1900. They had a son named William Claude Fields Jr. in 1904. Hughes wanted Fields to give up his day job, stop touring and be a stay-at-home dad. Fields said no, so the couple split -- though they never divorced.

In August 1917, Fields had another son with his girlfriend, Bessie Poole. Poole was a Ziegfeld Follies performer who met Fields while he was performing at the Amsterdam Theater in New York City. She was killed in a bar fight in the 1920s. Their son was raised in foster care.

In 1932, Fields began a relationship with Carlotta Monti that lasted until his death in 1946. Monti appeared in small roles in several movies with Fields. She also wrote a biography, "W.C. Fields and Me" (1971), which was made into a movie in 1976.

Q: Is Jim Nabors still alive? What is he doing now? -- M.U., Charles City, Iowa

A: James Thurston "Jim" Nabors was born June 12, 1930, in Sylacuaga, Ala. The singer and actor has appeared in dozens of TV shows, and he even hosted his own show. He is best known for his role as Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." Nabors recorded 28 albums; four of those albums have been certified either gold or platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

On Jan. 15, 2013, Nabors married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, 64, in Seattle.

Most recently, Nabors appeared at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to sing "Back Home Again in Indiana" during the pre-race ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500. Nabors missed last year's race due to heart surgery; he has performed in person at the race 34 times since 1972.

Nabors resides in Hawaii, where he runs a macadamia plantation.

Q: How many contes tants on "Wheel of For tune" have won a million dollars in the bonus round? -- B.T., North Mankato, Minn.

A: In 2008, at the beginning of the show's 26th season, the $1 million grand prize wedge was added. In October 2008, the first giant prize was awarded to Michelle Lowenstein. On May 30, 2013, Lady Luck was smiling again. Autumn Erhard won the million dollars, solving the final puzzle with only four letters revealed.

Q: My girlfriend and I share the same birthdate. On our special day we are going to get matching tat toos. Where does the word "tattoo" originate? -- W.L., Chester, Pa.

A: The word "tattoo" was brought to Europe by the explorer James Cook when he returned from his first voyage to Tahiti and New Zealand in 1771. In his journal, he describes a procedure called "tattaw," which came from the Tahitian word "tattau," meaning "to mark."

Q: What was President Harry S. Truman's middle name? -- R.J., Peoria, Ill.

A: President Truman did not have a middle name. The S was in honor of his grandfathers' names. His paternal grandfather was named Anderson Shippe Truman, and his maternal grandfather was named Solomon Young. The S was meant to satisfy both. Although he joked that the S was his middle name, not an initial, there is a wealth of signed documentation on which he used a period after the S when he signed his name. The period is also used by the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

Q: Can you tell me what the letters KPMG on golfer Phil Mickelson's hat represent? -- J. and C.H.

A: KPMG is one of the largest professional services companies in the world, offering expertise in areas of audit, tax and advisory issues. KPMG employs 145,000 people. While the current corporate structure was established in 1987, the company traces its roots to 1870. The initials represent the names of the four partners who merged their own independent accounting firms: Piet Klynveld, William Barclay Peat, James Marwick and Reinhard Goerdeler.

Q: As a child, I remember seeing a movie called "Flying Down to Rio" with the beautiful Delores del Rio as the star. Can you please tell me who her male co-star was in the movie? -- M.W., La Verne, Calif.

A: "Flying Down to Rio" was released Dec. 29, 1933. Along with Delores del Rio, the film also starred Gene Raymond, Raul Roulien, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The movie is available on DVD.

Q: I am inquiring about a TV movie I saw in the 1970s. It was a look into the future. It may have been called "Zero Population," or something like that. It starred Vera Miles and a dark-haired actor with a raspy voice. Do you know what it is? Is it available? -- A.P., Woburn, Mass.

A: I believe the movie you are referring to is 1972's "Z.P.G." However, Vera Miles was not a member of the cast. It starred Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin. The setting was a future where overpopulation caused the government to ban the birth of children for a generation. It is available in DVD format. ZPG stands for zero population growth.

UPDATE: Not long ago I suggested the longest one-syllable word was "screeched," with nine letters. I asked if anyone knew of a longer one. Bill W. wrote in and said it is "smiled," because there is a mile between the S and the D. Oh, cute.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.