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Life begins at 40 from the 1940's

Posted by Bob on June 22, 2004

In Reply to: Life begins at 40 from the 1940's posted by ESC on June 18, 2004

: : : : : : HI. Thanks for your help.
: : : : : : I'm developing a thesis that midlife and midlife crises and the idea of a rich and meaningful middle years (35 to 60) really emerged in the U.S. only in the last 50 years. The 1900 census only considered peole in the age range 19-44!

: : : : : : so I am looking for when the phrase "life begins at 40" entered the culture. It seems to be a common cliche today. But when did peopel start saying it? Any help on this one?
: : : : : : Thanks again
: : : : : : Please write me directly.
: : : : : : Philip Belove.

: : : : : I think they started in January 2003 in preparation for November that year. At least that's what I noticed.

: : : : I'll check my references this evening and post if I find anything.

: : : "The 1900 census only considered peole in the age range 19-44!"

: : : What do you mean by this?

: : : As to the saying "Life begins at 40" I don't know that it is any more of a popular phrase than "at 50" or "at 60". In fact, I am sure I have heard it less than either of those two figures.

: : : My favorite was a sticker I saw that covered the lower half of a motorcycle's speedometer - "Life begins at 65"

: :
: : It means that in the 1900 census they didn't count people over age 44 or under 19. Perhaps it has something to so with mortality rates?

: : Life begins at 40, according to Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Catch Phrases, "was generated in the 1940's by a much-read book so titled - and by a popular song. I'm guessing this was the original that spawned the other "life begins at..." phrases.

: LIFE BEGINS AT 40 -- "Middle age marks the start of a welcome new stage of life. Maturity is the best time of life. Generally attributed to American writer W. B. Pitkin (1878-1953)...
: 1932: 'Life Begins at Forty' -- Title of a book by W. B. Pitking.
: 1937: 'Life begins at Forty' -- Title of a song by Jack Yellen & Ted Shapiro, sung by Sophie Tucker.
: 1990: Life may begin at 40, but so too does age discrimination, at least according to the law -- Daniel Moreau, 'Take Charge of Your Career.'
: 1991: All our age benchmarks, which used to seem solid as rocks, have turned into shifting sands. 'Life begins at 40? More like 60' -- New York Times..."

: From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). Page 214.

Somebody told me the other day that "Life does Not begin at 40. Life begins when the last kid moves out and the dog dies."