"OH, THE HUMANITY!" Take Two: As everyone knows but me (where "everyone" means the two people who wrote me), the phrase "Oh, the humanity!" dates back to at least 1937. Iam Hamet of Banana Oil put it this way:
The earliest instance of it I ever encountered was the radio broadcast from the Hindenberg disaster when the commentator, at a loss for words and with genuine anguish cried out this very phrase. His reflexive usage makes me think it was a common phrase at the time.
Thanks also to Lynn Sislo, who's 99% sure the reporter was Edward R. Murrow. She's got a blog called Reflections in d minor which I'll be taking a look at.
Update: Alas, the 1% case came up. According to Stasia, the reporter's name is Herbert Morrison; she cites this site.Posted by Will Duquette at April 26, 2003 09:15 PM
The reporter was not Edward R. Morrow. The reporter in New Jersey was Herbert Morrison who stood there during the infamous explosion of the Hindenberg. He had a script to read from and the radio broadcast was an experiment on location, but when the Hindenberg suddenly exploded, Morrison had to suddenly used his own words. He became so upset and almost could not continue speaking. He uttered the phrase, "Oh, the humanity".