First Annual 39th Birthday Celebration

For some reason turning 39 make me think of Jack Benny. He had stopped performing regularly around the time I was born, but I saw him on specials and retrospectives when I was young. Every time someone would ask him how old he was, he’d say “39.” I wondered what the origin of that bit was, and thanks to the power of the web I got my answer…

From the FAQ at

Q: Why did Jack Benny always claim he was 39?

A: Jack claimed on one of the radio shows to be 36. It got a laugh, so they continued using it. Later he became 37, then 38, then 39. There were plans to have a big production for Jack’s 40th birthday show, but people started contacting him that he shouldn’t turn 40, as it was too big of a milestone. Thus on the 2-14-54 program, they celebrate Jack’s 40th birthday. Toward the end of the show, Jack gets a telegram from his sister, Florence, saying that Jack was actually born a year later than originally thought, making him…39. Jack phones home to Rochester, and asks him to get out his birth certificate. He asks him what is written in the spot that says “Date of Birth.” Rochester replies, “A hole.” “A hole?” exclaims Jack. “Yeah Boss, we erased it once too often!”

Jack also put it more simply in later years, saying that they stopped at 39 because it’s a funny number–40 isn’t.

Well since this is my “real” 39th birthday, I’ll have to wait until next year to make a gag out of it…

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  1. sheila mccarthy October 20, 2004
  2. Mona McCarthy October 20, 2004