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Today, I consider myself the oldest man on the face of the earth.
When Lou Gehrig was 36 years and 15 days old, he delivered his famous retirement speech—“today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”—at Yankee Stadium. I know this because I heard a clip from the speech on Wednesday and, wanting to see the rest of it, found a recording on Youtube. My immediate reaction from watching the video was not, as it usually is, to be shaken by the wrenching tragedy of the moment, but to think, “Oh no, he looks young.” Lou Gehrig is supposed to be centuries old, a weathered patriarch, an elder statesmen, an iron man, a granite legend. He is not supposed to look suitable to cast in Too Hot to Handle.
I looked up how old he was during that speech: 36 years, 15 days. A couple weeks past my 36th birthday, an unsettling thought crossed my mind: How old am I? The answer, as fate would cruelly have it, was 36 years, 14 days. Which means the answer today, if my math is right, is now 36 years, 16 days.
Wrenching stuff, indeed.
So off I went, looking up how old other people were at important moments in their lives. Dozens of celebrities later, I found myself with an leaderboard of accomplishments and disasters, of crimes and deaths, of first appearances and new relationships, with me steadily climbing it, like LeBron marching up the all-time points list. Next up, James Madison drafting much of the Constitution at 36 years and 185 days old, and Blackbeard pirating his first ship at 36 years and 244 days old.
Until then, do your own calculus, and join me in making 101 comparisons that never needed to be made.
At 23 years old, Joey Chestnut won the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest for the first of fifteen times. At 44 years old, Alex Trebek first appeared as the host of Jeopardy! At 28 years old, Ann Boleyn married King Henry VIII. At 31 years old, Ann Boleyn was beheaded by King Henry VIII. At 37 years old, Marie Antoinette said, if she said it at all, "Let them eat cake." At 42 years old, Sarah Palin became the governor of Alaska.
At 36 years old, James Madison made significant contributions to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. At 34 years old, Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor of France. At 34 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr., published the "Letter from Birmingham Jail." At 33 years old, Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses.
At 33 years old, Stephen Colbert made is first appearance on the The Daily Show. At 32 years old, Sean Connery first appeared as James Bond in Dr. No. At 29 years old, Stephen King published The Shining, his third novel and first best seller. At 29 years old, Michael Lewis published Liar's Poker, his first of at least nine best sellers. At 29 years old, Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the song "Hamilton" at the White House. At 28 years old, Steven Spielberg directed Jaws, his first film to win an Academy Awards.
At 34 years old, Psy released Gangnam Style, the first Youtube video to reach 1 billion views. At 25 years old, Taylor Swift was named one of the 100 best songwriters of all time by The Rolling Stone. At 32 years old, Oprah Winfrey hosted the first episode The Oprah Winfrey Show. At 30 years and 240 days old, Sam Bankman-Fried was worth sixteen billion dollars. At 30 years and 247 days old, Sam Bankman-Fried had lost sixteen billion dollars.
At 39 years old, Tenzing Norgay became one of the first of two people to climb Mount Everest. At 33 years old, Sir Edmund Hillary joined him, also becoming one of the first of two people to climb Mount Everest. At 38 years old, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon (allegedly). At 27 years old, Aron Ralston cut off his own arm after a bouldering accident in Utah.
At 34 years old, Jackie Kennedy saw her husband, John F. Kennedy, get shot in Dallas, Texas. At 42 years old, Barack Obama gave a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that made him a presidential hopeful. At 30 years old, Joe Biden became a United States Senator. At 78 years old, Joe Biden became the President of United States. At 54 years old, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address. At 26 years old, John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln. At 30 years old, Nate Silver correctly predicted the results of 49 of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election.
At 32 years old, Larry Ellison founded Oracle. At 44 years old, Steve Irwin died. At 39 years old, Amelia Earhart disappeared.
At 32 years old, Florence Owens Thompson was photographed during the Great Depression in Migrant Mother. At 42 years old, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. At 51 years old, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
At 29 years old, Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call. At 35 years old, Al Michaels called the "Miracle on Ice" during the 1980 Winter Olympics. At 22 years old, Vin Scully called his first Dodgers' game.
At 40 years old, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain for the Americas. At 16 years old, Sacagawea began helping Lewis and Clark explore the Louisiana Territory.
At 36 years old, Blackbeard committed his first major act of piracy. At 19 years old, Sean Parker committed his first major act of piracy. At 21 years old, Bonnie Parker, of Bonnie and Clyde, began a two-year crime spree. At 47 years old, O.J. Simpson tried on a glove during his murder trial.
At 42 years old, George R.R. Martin began writing A Song of Ice and Fire, which would later be made into Game of Thrones. At 31 years old, J.K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first Harry Potter novel. At 65 years old, Winston Churchill gave his "We shall fight on the beaches" speech during World War II.
At 30 years old, Brandi Chastain kicked the game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup. At 27 years old, Lance Armstrong won his first—now vacated—Tour de France victory. At 19 years old, Simone Biles won her first of seven Olympic gold medals.
At 31 years old, Marie Curie discovered radium, for which she won a Nobel Prize in Physics. At 27 years old, Stanley Milgram began his experiments in which participants thought they were shocking one another. At 25 years old, Phineas Gage suffered—and survived—an accident in which a large iron rod was driven through his head. At 22 years old, Charles Darwin began his voyage on the HMS Beagle.
At 26 years old, George Harrison recorded his final song with the Beatles. At 38 years old, Freddie Mercury performed at Live Aid.
At 40 years old, George Clooney appeared in Ocean's Eleven. At 35 years old, Brad Pitt appeared in Fight Club. At 33 years old, Helena Bonham Carter appeared in Fight Club.
At 22 years old, Steve Jobs launched the Apple II. At 30 years old, Bill Gates launched Windows. At 51 years old, Steve Jobs launched the iPhone.
At 46 years old, Jim Valvano gave his "Don't ever give up" speech at the Espy's. At 11 years old, Malala Yousafzai began blogging about her experience living under Taliban rule. At 17 years old, Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, its youngest ever recipient. At 66 years old, Frank McCourt published his first book, Angela's Ashes, which won a Pulitzer Prize, its oldest ever recipient for a debut novel.
At 47 years old, Joe Pesci appeared in Home Alone. At 47 years old, Brenda Fricker appeared as the Central Park Pigeon Lady in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
At 48 years old, Julia Child published her first cookbook. At 45 years old, George Orwell wrote 1984. At 35 years old, William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. At 30 years old, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote The Marriage of Figaro. At 28 years old, F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby.
At 34 years old, Thomas Andrews began designing the RMS Titanic. At 62 years old, Edward Smith captained the RMS Titanic into an iceberg. At 43 years old, James Cameron directed Titanic. At 22 years old, Leonard DiCaprio starred in Titanic. At 25 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Gisele Bündchen, who was 19 at the time. At 30 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Bar Refaeli, who was 20 at the time. At 36 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Blake Lively, who was 23 at the time. At 37 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Erin Heatherton, who was 22 at the time. At 38 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Toni Garrn, who was 20 at the time. At 40 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Kelly Rohrbach, who was 25 at the time. At 41 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Nina Agdal, who was 24 at the time. At 43 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio began dating Camila Morrone, who was 20 at the time.
At 28 years old, Ivana Zelníčková married Donald Trump, who was 30 at the time. At 30 years old, Marla Maples married Donald Trump, who was 47 at the time. At 34 years old, Melania Knavs married Donald Trump, who was 58 at the time. At 37 years old, James Gandolfini first appeared in The Sopranos. At 33 years old, Sarah Jessica Parker first appeared in Sex and the City. At 29 years old, Kelsey Grammer first appeared as Frasier Crane in Cheers. At 29 years old, Jason Alexander first appeared as George Costanza in Seinfeld.
At 22 years old, Tom Carvel founded Carvel Ice Cream. At 24 years old, Chuck Yeager became the first human to break the sound barrier.
At 30 years old, Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear.
“I would like a refund”
Are you here to read blog posts about data tooling and analytical best practices—like these bangers—not be reminded of your own looming mortality? Or of the infinite and meaningless abyss that those fragile lives are hurling through? Ok, fair enough—though there is data in this post, I’m guessing that the data that most people are after isn’t the ages of the actors in Home Alone.
In the spirit of year-end reviews and upcoming New Year’s resolutions, now’s your chance to complain about it! Send your feedback about this blog! Rate my driving! Yell into
the infinite and meaningless abyss a Google survey! The 99th caller wins a Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera and five rolls of film!
Tell us what you think. Help me, help you (at 34 years old, Tom Cruise starred in Jerry Maguire).