Memorable Aging & Birthday Quotes from Famous People

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog article, Mary shares some of the interesting and/or funny quotes about birthdays and aging that she found in old newspapers.

While researching birthdays and aging in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I came across some delightful quotes from famous people. Some are modern, some are historical and others are just plain hysterical!

cartoon about birthdays, Omaha World-Herald newspaper cartoon 6 February 1898

Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 6 February 1898, section 3, page 23

Have fun using these quotes in blogs or while making “Happy Birthday” cards. If you have some of your own birthday quotes to share, please post them in the comments section of this blog.

Famous People Birthday & Gift Quotes

  • “I love a card. You know, cards? At birthdays? I collect them.” –Adele
  • “I binge when I’m happy. When everything is going really well, every day is like I’m at a birthday party.” –Kirstie Alley
  • “I like to go to anybody else’s birthday, and if I’m invited I’m a good guest. But I never celebrate my birthdays. I really don’t care.” –Mikhail Baryshnikov
  • “A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday.” –Erma Bombeck
cartoon about birthday gifts, Plain Dealer newspaper cartoon 19 April 1896

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 19 April 1896, page 26

  • “There are 364 days when you might get unbirthday presents…and only one for birthday presents, you know.”–Lewis Carroll (AKA Charlie Lutwidge Dodgson)
  • “I don’t pay attention to the number of birthdays. It’s weird when I say I’m 53. It just is crazy that I’m 53. I think I’m very immature. I feel like a kid. That’s why my back goes out all the time, because I completely forget I can’t do certain things anymore – like doing the plank for 10 minutes.” –Ellen DeGeneres who was born 26 January 1958
  • “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.” –Robert Frost
birthday cartoon, Omaha World-Herald birthday cartoon 20 April 1902

Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 20 April 1902, page 31

  • “In 1993 my birthday present was a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.” –Annette Funicello
  • “There is still no cure for the common birthday.” –John Glenn
  • “All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.” –George Harrison
article about birthdays in Hollywood, Evening Star newspaper article 26 August 1934

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 26 August 1934, page 49

  • “Money is appropriate, and one size fits all.” –William Randolph Hearst on suggestions for gifts
  • “The way I see it, you should live every day like it’s your birthday.” –Paris Hilton
  • “You know you’re getting older when the candles cost more than the cake.” –Bob Hope
  • “Your children need your presence more than your presents.” –Jesse Jackson
  • “My biggest hero, Gregory Peck, was my birthday present on April 14, 1973. I just sat and stared at him.” –Loretta Lynn
  • “Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.” –Phylicia Rashad
  • “I’m not going to be caught around here for any fool celebration. To hell with birthdays!” –Norman Rockwell
  • “I wish people would stop talking about my birthday.” –George Bernard Shaw
article about birthdays, Evansville Courier and Press newspaper article 31 July 1938

Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville, Indiana), 31 July 1938, page 18

  • “Love the giver more than the gift.” –Brigham Young
  • “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “You know you’re getting old when you get that one candle on the cake. It’s like, ‘see if you can blow this out.’” –Jerry Seinfeld
  • “The last birthday that’s any good is 23.” –Andy Rooney

Famous People Quotes on Aging

  • “It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.” –Brigitte Bardot
  • “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” –John Barrymore
  • “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be!” –Robert Browning
  • “Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” –Truman Capote
  • “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” –Fred Astaire

quote about aging from Fred Astaire

  • “I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.” –Lewis Carroll (AKA Charlie Lutwidge Dodgson) from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” –Maurice Chevalier
  • “We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” –Emily Dickinson
  • “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot
  • “I’ll keep singing ’till I die.” –Bing Crosby
quote about aging from Bing Crosby, Evening Star newspaper article 28 June 1933

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 28 June 1933, page 10

  • “All my possessions for one moment of time.” –Queen Elizabeth
  • “The years teach much which the days never knew.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “An old young man will be a young old man.” –Benjamin Franklin (AKA Poor Richard)
  • “At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.” –Benjamin Franklin (AKA Poor Richard)
  • “Youth is pert and positive, Age modest and doubting; So ears of corn when young and bright, stand bold upright, But hang their heads when weighty, full and ripe.” –Benjamin Franklin (AKA Poor Richard)
article about Benjamin Franklin, Daily Inter Ocean newspaper article 20 October 1895

Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), 20 October 1895, page 25

  • “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “Old age is fifteen years older than I am.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.” –Bob Hope
  • “Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” –Victor Hugo
  • “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” –Abraham Lincoln
  • “Whatever poet, orator, or sage may say of it, old age is still old age.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • “The older you get the stronger the wind gets – and it’s always in your face.” –Jack Nicklaus
  • “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” –Satchel Paige
  • “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” –Satchel Paige
  • “It takes a long time to become young.” –Pablo Picasso
  • “I was forced to live far beyond my years when just a child, now I have reversed the order and I intend to remain young indefinitely.” –Mary Pickford
  • “Youth is just wasted on young people.” –George Bernard Shaw
  • “To me, fair friend, you never can be old, For as you were when first your eye I eye’d, Such seems your beauty still.” –William Shakespeare
  • “In childhood be modest, in youth temperate, in manhood just, in old age prudent.” –Socrates
article about Socrates, Camden Mail and General Advertiser newspaper article 21 May 1834

Camden Mail and General Advertiser (Camden, New Jersey), 21 May 1834, page 4

  • “May you live all the days of your life.” –Jonathan Swift
  • “Too bad that youth is wasted on the young.” –Mark Twain.
  • “The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity.” –Mark Twain
  • “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” –Mae West
  • “Those whom the gods love grow young.” –Oscar Wilde
  • “My happiest memory of childhood was my first birthday in reform school. This teacher took an interest in me. In fact, he gave me the first birthday presents I ever got: a box of Cracker Jacks and a can of ABC shoe polish.” –Flip Wilson
  • “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” –Oprah Winfrey
  • “From our birthday, until we die, is but the winking of an eye.” –William Butler Yeats

Memorable Songs & Books

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

–Bob Dylan from the song “May You Stay Forever Young”

They say it’s your birthday
It’s my birthday too, yeah
They say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you

–John Lennon & Paul McCartney from the song “Birthday”

Time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is

–Jerry Ragovoy (AKA Jimmy Norman) from the Rolling Stones’ song “Time Is on My Side”

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

–Dr. Seuss (AKA Theodor Seuss Geisel) from the book “Happy Birthday to You!”

Related Articles:

Did Your Ancestor Live to 100? Centenarians in the Newspaper

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena writes about ancestors who lived to be 100—and how newspaper articles about them can help your family history research.

How old was your oldest ancestor? A 2011 Huffington Post article reported that the “Number of Centenarians Is Booming in U.S.” It went on to comment that the number of people who celebrate a triple digit birthday has doubled in the last 20 years and today numbers approximately 72,000 people. It is predicted that in the future the number of centenarians will likely at least double again.*

It’s no wonder that the number of people reaching 100 years of age is increasing; decreases in infant mortality, combined with better medical and preventative health care, have enhanced life expectancy. While there’s a greater chance of someone today knowing or being related to a centenarian, in an earlier time—lacking these modern improvements—living to be 100 years of age would have been something short of a miracle.

When one of our ancestors did reach the age of 100 it was a newsworthy event, most likely reported in the local newspaper. Searching through an online newspaper collection like GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives is a good way to find these centenarian articles—and they can be very helpful with your family history research.

Newspaper articles reporting these birthday milestones largely concentrated on the birthday celebration, often interviewing the honoree about historical events witnessed and their recommendations for longevity. Along with being interesting news stories, the added benefit to these articles is that they often include genealogically relevant information—including the date and place where the centenarian was born, their parents’ names, and other family information.

100 Years of History

One of the benefits of living a long life is the history that you witness. I like this article about Jabez Chapman, whose life was written up during his 99th year in 1895. This interview has him reminiscing about the War of 1812, the death of President George Washington, and his interactions with James Fenimore Cooper, the author of the classic novel Last of the Mohicans.

Near the 100 Mark: Jabez Chapman Ninety-nine Years Old, Idaho Register newspaper article 20 December 1895

Idaho Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho), 20 December 1895, page 3

If you want to know more about Chapman’s life, check out the timeline following him through federal and state censuses in the blog post titled Point of View: State Censuses Fill the Gaps, by Jean Chapman Snow. So you may be wondering: did Chapman make it to his 100th birthday? After finding his death certificate, Snow confirms that Jabez Chapman died at 100 years, 3 months and 16 days.

The Oldest Living Spinster

While some newspaper articles about those who are 100+ center around what history they’ve lived through or what famous people they met, in some cases it’s what the centenarians can still accomplish that is the biggest news. Consider this article from a 1905 Nebraska newspaper about Miss Eliza Williams. The article points out that she is in such good shape for her age that she is the first person up in the household and is able to dress herself. Once ready for the day she reads a hymn and a chapter from the Bible. The article gives the impression that she would do much more including sewing (which she gave up at 98 years of age), but her family persuaded her to “save her strength.”

Oldest Old Maid [Eliza Williams]: She Is Over 100 Years Old and Not Ashamed of It, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 23 August 1905

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 23 August 1905, page 7

Of course no discussion of those who have reached such a momentous milestone would be complete without getting some advice about what the centenarian’s secret is. Miss Eliza Williams replies to this question: “obedience to her parents, and not meddling with other people’s business when it could do her no good.”

What’s a Birthday without a Stiff Drink?

The great thing about being older is the ability to say what you want and not worry what people will think. That’s also what makes reading these articles about 100th birthdays so much fun. Consider this short but sweet newspaper article, including a photo, of the birthday “boy” John H. Whitmore, a former prison warden. Unfortunately, due to prohibition, he didn’t get the alcoholic beverage he would have preferred to celebrate with—but instead tried his first ice cream soda. Judging from his comments, ice cream sodas are not the preferred beverage of 100-year-old men.

First Soda on 100th Birthday, Miami District Daily News newspaper article 12 August 1919

Miami District Daily News (Miami, Oklahoma), 12 August 1919, page 5

Check Your Family Tree

Do you have someone in your family tree that lived to be 100 years old? It wasn’t too long ago that such a feat was rewarded with recognition in the newspaper. Just as we should research newspapers for milestone celebrations such as a 50th wedding anniversary, don’t forget to search for mentions of an ancestor who lived a long life or celebrated a milestone birthday.

Be sure to read our related Blog article: Find the Oldest People to Ever Live, as Reported in Newspapers and please share the names and ages of your centenarian ancestors in the comments.


* Number of Centenarians Is Booming in U.S. by Matt Sedensky. April 26, 2011. Accessed 29 December 2013.